BRACKETTVILLE, Texas — Just two hours from San Antonio, located in the heart of Kinney County you’ll find Fort Clark Springs which hosts one of the largest spring-fed pool in Texas.
Neighbors in the small town of Brackettville call it a hidden oasis.
“This pool has such historical value, community value. It's such an icon,” said Fort Clark Springs resident, Annabell McNew.
Tucked away beneath the vast trees on the grounds of Fort Clark Springs is the Las Moras Springs that feeds the third largest spring-fed pool in Texas.
But it’s not just the water that flows through these springs that makes Fort Clark a tourist destination.
“The Fort was established in 1852 and continued to the end of World War II, and it's just amazing the history that has taken place at this location, not just this pool, but all over the 2,700 acres that comprises Fort Clark,” said Chris Hale, who leads up the Las Moras Restoration Committee.
While in operation, Fort Clark housed most of the troops assigned to the U.S. Army’s Cavalry Unit.
The iconic pool was first created as a horse trough, but over the years, the spring-fed sanctuary is now in need of dire restoration.
“We've been working for about two and a half years on saving this historic pool,” said Hale. “And, it had developed some very serious problems over the last almost hundred years.”
This week, upgrades to the historic pool are now under way after Fort Clark Springs was awarded a $50,000 from T-Mobile through the Hometown Grant program.
“In the next five years, T-Mobile is committed to give about $25 million in Hometown Grants,” said Art Alaniz, Rural Market Manager with T-Mobile. “I am so excited that Brackettville, which is part of my market, got selected.”
Since the inception of the Hometown Grant program, T-Mobile reports giving $7.8 million to 175 rural communities across 41 states.
Upgrades will include structural improvements in the pool, and upgrades to other parts of the swim park, including the restrooms.
“What this T-Mobile grant does is allows us to cross the finish line of all the work that is needed to be done and upgrade the swim park and make it assured of being an incredible place for generations to come,” said Hale.
McNew, a member of the team who wrote the grant application, said the community came together in support of applying for the funding.
Brackett ISD Superintendent, Eliza Diaz and Brackettville Mayor, Erik Martinez, also wrote letters of support for the application.
Other Texas cities who've recieved the Hometown Grant include, Cleveland, Falfurrias, and Plainview.
McNew said they hope the upgrades will attract new visitors to Fort Clark Springs, so they can share their hidden oasis with others.
“We're walking sort of a very fine line of not wanting to give away our secret, but also wanting to share it with everybody because it is so wonderful and it's such a neat place to be,” said McNew.
The swim park at Fort Clark Springs and other amenities, including a hotel, RV Park, and Museum will be open all summer.
“The history here is so stunning. George Patton swam in this pool. Jonathan Wainwright swam in this pool not long before he went to the Philippines and spent four years as a prisoner of war during World War II. The Four black Seminoles Scout Soldiers Medal of Honor winners are buried adjacent to Fort Clark,” said Hale.
For more information about Fort Clark Springs, visit their website Fortclark.com