San Solomon Springs have provided water for travelers for thousands of years. Artifacts indicate Indians used the springs extensively before white men came to the area. In 1849, the springs were called Mescalero Springs for the Mescalero Apache Indians who watered their horses along its banks. 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.
Situated about four miles west of Balmorhea, Texas, the 45.9-acre Balmorhea State Park was constructed by Company 1856 of the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, between 1936 and 1941. The CCC was established as a New Deal program by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression as a way to employ people who would have otherwise been out of work. Many of the state parks in Texas were developed during this time.
Other CCC structures in the park include a limestone concession building, two wooden bathhouses, an adobe superintendent residence, and San Solomon Springs Courts, an early expression of the modern-day motel, constructed of adobe bricks. All of the CCC buildings are constructed in a Spanish Colonial style with stucco exteriors and tile roofs.
Visitors to Balmorhea State Park can enjoy a swim in the CCC-constructed pool and, if staying overnight, may choose to relax in one of the historic rooms at San Solomon Springs Courts. The lobby of the park office includes several photographs of the CCC at work in what is now Balmorhea State Park. When visiting the park, take time to see what the park property looked like in the late 1930s and what it looks like today.
The Balmorhea State Park Cienega Project, which recreated a desert wetland in West Texas, won a 1998 Texas Quality Initiative Award for "innovation" from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and its cooperative partners. The Balmorhea Cienega Project conceived by the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) was awarded the TQI award for its unprecedented cooperative effort among the local farming community, and a host of state and federal agencies. The project spearheaded by TPW fisheries biologist Dr. Gary Garrett brought together such diverse interests as the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Environmental Protection Agency with the Texas Department of Agriculture, TxDOT, Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Reeves County Water Improvement District #1.