Guadalupe River (Texas)
A bluff at Guadalupe River State Park
|Region||Texas Hill Country, Texas Coastal Bend|
|Source||Kerr County, Texas|
|- elevation||676 m (2,218 ft)|
|Mouth||San Antonio Bay, Gulf of Mexico|
|- elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|Length||370 km (230 mi)|
|Basin||3,256 km2 (1,257 sq mi)|
|- average||34 m3/s (1,201 cu ft/s)|
|Website: Handbook of Texas: Guadalupe River|
The Guadalupe River runs from Kerr County, Texas to San Antonio Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. The river is a popular destination for rafting, fly fishing and canoeing. Larger cities along the river include Kerrville, New Braunfels, Seguin, Gonzales, Cuero, and Victoria. The Guadalupe has several dams along its length, the most notable of which, Canyon Dam, forms Canyon Lake northwest of New Braunfels.
The upper river, in the Texas Hill Country, is a smaller, faster stream with limestone banks and shaded by pecan and bald cypress trees. It is formed by two main tributary forks, the North Fork and South Fork Guadalupe Rivers. The upper Guadalupe is popular as a tubing destination where recreational users often float down the river on inflated tire inner tubes during the spring and summer months. East of Boerne, on the border of Kendall County and Comal County, the river flows through Guadalupe River State Park, one of the more popular tubing areas along the river.
The lower river begins at the outlet of Canyon Lake, near New Braunfels. The section between Canyon Dam and New Braunfels is the most heavily used in terms of recreation. It is a popular destination for whitewater rafters, canoeists, kayakers and tubing. When the water is flowing at less than 1,000 cu ft/s (28 m3/s) there could be hundreds if not thousands of tubes on this stretch of the river. At flows greater than 1,000 cu ft/s (28 m3/s), there should be very few tubes on the water. Flows greater than 1,000 cu ft/s (28 m3/s) and less than 2,500 cu ft/s (71 m3/s) are ideal for rafting and paddling. The flow is controlled by Canyon Dam, and by the amount of rainfall the area has received. It is joined by the Comal River in New Braunfels and the San Marcos River about two miles (3 km) west of Gonzales. The Guadalupe below the San Marcos River, as well as the San Marcos River is part of the course for the Texas Water Safari.
The San Antonio River flows into the Guadalupe River just north of Tivoli. Ahead of the entry into the San Antonio Bay estuary, the river forms a delta and splits into two distributaries referred respectively as the North and South Guadalupe Rivers. Each distributary flows into the San Antonio Bay estuary at Guadalupe Bay.
The Guadalupe River in Gruene, New Braunfels, Texas
Mouth of the South Guadalupe River at Guadalupe Bay
The river was first called after Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe by Alonso de León in 1689. It was renamed the San Augustin by Domingo Terán de los Ríos who maintained a colony on the river, but the name Guadalupe persisted. Many explorers referred to the current Guadalupe as the San Ybón above its confluence with the Comal, and instead the Comal was called the Guadalupe. Evidence indicates that the river has been home to humans for several thousand years, including the Karankawa, Tonkawa, and Huaco (pronounced like Waco) Indians.
Being led by Prince Solms, 228 pioneer immigrants from Germany traveled overland from Indianola to the site chosen to be the first German settlement in Texas, New Braunfels. Upon reaching the Guadalupe River, the pioneers found the river too high to cross due to the winter rains. Prince Solms, perhaps wishing to impress the others with his bravado, plunged into the raging waters and crossed the swollen river on horseback. Not to be outdone by anyone, Betty Holekamp immediately followed and successfully crossed the river. Thus Betty Holekamp is known as the first white woman to cross the Guadalupe on horseback.
The Guadalupe River gained national attention in July 1987 when a sudden flash flood on the river near Comfort swept a bus away at a flood crossing. At the time of the flood, the Pot O' Gold Ranch was hosting a church camp, which over 300 children were attending. On the night of July 16 and into the morning of the 17th, heavy rains quickly caused the Guadalupe to overflow its banks. The supervisors of the children at the ranch decided to evacuate the children before the river rose too high. While most of the buses managed to make it across the river, one bus and one van, both from the Balch Springs Baptist Church in Dallas, were swept away, along with Pastor Richard Koons, his wife Lavonda, chaperons Allen and Deborah Coalson, and 39 children. Rescuers managed to save all four adults and 29 of the children, but ten children, four boys and six girls, ages 13 to 17, drowned. The body of John Bankston Jr, the oldest of the victims, was never found.  In the summer of 1988, near the edge of the Guadalupe River and at the foot of the driveway to the Pot O'Gold ranch, a memorial plaque was dedicated to the children who died as well as those who survived. On April 18, 1989, the story of the deaths and rescues and this flood was aired on the pilot episode of Rescue 911 and it was later made into a television movie called The Flood: Who Will Save Our Children?.
The Guadalupe River is listed as one of the 100 top trout streams in the United States. In addition to fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout on the tail-waters of the Guadalupe River below Canyon Lake, anglers can catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, Guadalupe bass, white bass, and the Rio Grande cichlid.
Guadalupe River conditions can change rapidly. The Guadalupe River flow is set by the dam at Canyon Lake operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. It is highly regulated and well maintained to ensure safety. The Guadalupe River is, however, prone to severe flooding. During the rainy seasons the water can reach well above the banks of the river and exceed "normal" levels, in which case the Guadalupe river can become life threateningly dangerous due to swift currents. If the flow gauge exceeds 1,000 cubic feet per second at the Sattler Gage, the river is generally considered by local authorities as too dangerous for recreational purposes for all except expert kayakers and/or whitewater rafters. On October 31, 2013, the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, Texas, rose from 74 cfs to 33,500 cfs in one hour and fifteen minutes due to locally heavy rainfall.
Points of interest
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Guadalupe River.|
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: North Fork Guadalupe River
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: South Fork Guadalupe River
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: North Guadalupe River
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: South Guadalupe River
- Ransleben, Guido E.; A Hundred Years of Comfort in Texas; 1954
- 10 Lives Lost: The 20th Anniversary of the Guadalupe River Disaster | WOAI.COM: San Antonio News
- Guadalupe River from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Edwards Aquifer
- Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce
- TPWD Palmetto State Park
- TPWD Guadalupe State Park
- Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority: Flow and Lake Data, retrieved 2008-05-24
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Guadalupe River