Photos: Remember San Marcos’ Aquarena Springs? After closing, it was a ghost town

The underwater theater, gondola rides, and famed swimming pig Ralph that comprised the “waterful wonderland of sights and thrills” of San Marcos’ Aquarena Springs haven’t thrilled visitors in years. And after the park closed, it really looked like it.

7/19/99 photo by Rebecca McEntee/AA-S

While the park, which entertained families for some 40 years before closing down in the 1990s, is now without the attractions and mermaids that drew its 250,000 annual visitors, the spot briefly had a new sort of lure for one Texas photographer.

Andy Heatwole took a series of haunting pictures between 2005 and 2012, showing the springs, which had since grown increasingly reclaimed by nature, in a state of “crumbling sidewalks, fallen trees and the few decaying remnants of the park.”

“As a photographer, I’ve always been drawn to abandoned places. There’s often a palpable silence that hangs over them. That silence is present here too,” Heatwole said of photographing the springs.

READ: Mermaid trend splashes into Austin

Take a dip down memory lane here.

Though the amusement park is long gone, its former site now hosts the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. Still a source of wet wonders, though more educational.

Correction: An earlier version of this post did not reflect that the photos in question were taken between 2005-12. The former site of the amusement park is now home to The Meadows Center.

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