San Solomon Springs, near Balmorhea, is an oasis in arid West Texas. It's the sixth largest spring system in Texas. The springs have provided water for travelers for thousands of years. Earlier the springs were called Mescalero Springs for the Mescalero Apache Indians who watered their horses along its banks. It is believed the Jumano Indians irrigated their corn and peach trees from the spring. The present name was given by the first settlers, Mexican farmers, who used the water for their crops and hand-dug the first irrigation canals. Today the springs are in Balmorhea State Park in Toyahvale, Texas, and the tremendous flow of the springs (22 to 28 million gallons a day) is used to feed a large swimming pool. It's the largest (two-acre) and nicest spring fed swimming pool in Texas after Austin's Barton Springs, so be sure to bring your swim togs.
The outflow of the springs forms a restored ciénega. The original desert cienéga that surrounded the spring’s headwaters was destroyed in the 1930's. Recently a restoration partnership between the park and numerous partners has recreated a cienéga ecosystem. After leaving the pool, spring waters now ebb slowly through the cattails, rushes and reeds of San Solomon Cienéga which serves as a home for abundant aquatic life
It's home to several rare freshwater animals including the Comanche Springs pupfish and the Pecos gambusia which are on the Federal endangered species list.
San Solomon Springs are in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. This region has been subjected to four major earth surface events: (1) an upheaval of an ancient mountain range that created the Ouachita & Marathon mountains during the Pennsylvanian geologic period about 300 million years ago, (2) splitting open of the Gulf of Mexico during the early Mesozoic through Cenozoic geologic periods, the last 250 million years, (3) continued upheaval resulted in volcanoes and lava flows and formation of the Davis mountains, and finally (4) two major faults causing the area between them to sink (called a graben), forming the Salt Basin.
The springs themselves are located in alluvial soil -- soil which was washed from another location and deposited here.
The source of San Solomon Springs' water has long been uncertain, but chemical analysis in a study published in 2004 showed that about 80% came from the Salt Basin north of Van Horn through fault channels in the Apache Mountains. Isotope analysis suggests this water accumulated during humid periods in the Pleistocene era, 10,000 – 15,000 years ago. Some sources of water are being constantly replenished by rainwater, but when water is taken from a source like this that is not being replenished and will eventually be used up, it's called "mining water." In effect these springs are mining water from the Salt Basin. A small amount of the spring water comes from the Davis Mountains. This flow increases during periods of heavy rain.
Requirements to Claim a Find
Please Read Carefully
To claim a find post a “Note” containing a picture holding your GPSr with the ciénega in the background. Please be sure your GPSr is clearly visible. And, send me an email with the answers to the following questions:
What is a ciénega? Use the definition given at the springs, not one taken from the internet.
What destroyed the original ciénega at San Solomon Springs?
Name three kinds of aquatic life that live in the ciénega. They cannot include ones mentioned in this cache description.
If you look around you will see two mountain ranges. The smaller/more distant range is the Apache Mountains -- through which most of San Solomon Springs water comes. What compass direction are the Apache mountains (N, NW, S, SE, etc.).
Please don’t post these answers in your log.
Post only a “Note” at first, then after you have received my okay, edit the note changing it to a find.
If you don’t get an okay from me in a week resend your email -- the first one probably got lost.