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Sand Springs at Waterloo Lake by Denison

Sandstone crag
Generations of teenagers have carved their names into the sandstone outcrops surrounding Waterloo Lake.

One of the most historic places in Grayson County, Texas is Waterloo Lake in Denison, fed by Sand Springs, a natural watering hole. The fresh water from the springs enticed people for hundreds, if not thousands of years into the area.

Recorded history explains that Sand Springs watered travelers on the California Gold Road (today, the old TX 56) and also those on stage coaches, including the Butterfield Overland, the first transcontinental stage in the Southwest.

The railroad is always mentioned as the impetus for Denison's founding, and while it's true, the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway wouldn't have picked the site in 1872 if there hadn't been a good water source, and Sand Springs, which fed Pawpaw Creek, proved to be the ticket. The creek flooded often due to the copious springs, so as the town was built into a city, the creek ended up routed underground, and Sand Springs was dammed into Waterloo Lake. It provided water to the city, which secured its continued prosperity.

When Waterloo Lake was built, the prehistoric and historic campsites were drowned. But the sand stone outcroppings still rise over the old watering hole. Today, Waterloo Lake is a city park with a walking trail that leads to the bluffs, where generations of visitors have memorialized themselves. I didn't find any 19th century inscriptions when I visited, but you may be luckier if you decide to go.

Sand Springs, which feeds Pawpaw Creek, which is the reason that Denison was built, has been dammed into Waterloo Lake.

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