Workers began to dismantle Aquarena Springs in San Marcos Thursday. Remnants of the one-time amusement park will be removed so the area around the headwaters of the San Marcos River can be restored to its native state.
Among the items cleared Thursday was an iconic sculpture called “Morning Glories." Wimberley artist Buck Winn created the piece, which shaded guests as they boarded the park's sky tram.
The sculpture was taken by helicopter to Winn Ranch in Wimberley, where the artwork will get a second life. Winn’s family plans to restore the piece and give it a permanent home where the public can continue to view it.
"It's amazing, there's been so much planning going on in this process and you never know how it's going to turn out until it actually happens and this is game day, it's the super bowl for us," Winn's grandson Andrew said. "There are no words for what it looks like watching my grandfather's artwork fly across the hills from Aquarena and land in our field."
Beginning this fall, the old buildings, the tram and the underwater theater at the springs are all going to be removed.
"We're seeing the first step in probably the most significant environmental restoration project in the country which is the restoration of the San Marcos Springs," Andrew Sansom with River Systems Institute said.
Next year, when the restoration is complete, the glass bottom boats will return to the water, but the river will be restored to its natural state.
"I'm going to be very nostalgic over the next several months at the disappearance of the last remnants of the amusement park era because it was such a huge part of our life in Texas over the last half of the 20th Century," Sansom said.
The Aquarena Center will remain open through September.
The restoration project is the result of collaboration between Texas State University and the Army Corps of Engineers. More than 100,000 people visit the center each year.