Barton Springs, page 3
Park is often called 'the Central Park of Texas'. It is less than half the size
of Central Park but has more acres per person. New York's Central Park is 843
acres but 20 million people use it every year. Zilker Park is 485 acres and only
one million people use it annually. Zilker Park was recently added to the National
Register of Historic Places in recognition of its architecture and historical
significance. The park has a playground, nine soccer fields (which used to be
spinach fields), one rugby field, two multiuse fields, and a nine-hole disc golf
course. Numerous picnic areas dot the park. Two historic log structures, the Esperanza
Schoolhouse and a Swedish Cabin, can be seen in the Botanical Garden.
Both structures were moved from outside of Austin.
Zilker Park even has a fallout shelter, a relic from the 1950s. The park is the
site of numerous baptisms, weddings, and memorial services. The Zilker Clubhouse
was originally the Boy Scout lodge and is now used for community functions.
The sixty-acre Botanical Garden has a series of trails of flowers
and succulents, a Japanese garden, a butterfly garden, and the Mabel Davis Rose
Garden. The Garden is home to many indigenous plants and animals. Tours of the
Garden are offered every Saturday between May and Thanksgiving.
some old-fashioned fun take a ride on the Zilker Zephyr, a three-mile miniature
train ride. For almost fifty years the Zephyr, formerly known as the Eagle, has
been chugging around the park. The train was privately owned for much of its history
by attorney Charlie Beall and wife Carlene. They contract with the city but own
the tracks, train, and ticket booth. There has been only one accident in all these
years when the brakes failed and a passenger jumped out in fear. The train only
goes eight miles per hour. Rides are available year-round, weather permitting,
from 10:00 A.M. to dusk. Souvenirs are available.
Zilker Hillside Theatre was developed by Beverly Sheffield, who selected
the site. The theater has recently been renamed for him. Originally, the theater
was just a tiny stage with a trellis of moonflowers blooming at night. Today,
it thrives and hosts Shakespearean plays, jazz concerts, and Broadway musicals
during the summer. Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic.
The eighty-acre Austin Nature Center is a sanctuary for raccoons, foxes,
deer, and many other animals. Located within Zilker Park at 301 Nature Center
Drive, the Nature Center features exhibits on science, natural history and botany.
The most interesting feature is over one hundred dinosaur tracks which are estimated
to be 99 million years old. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
McBeth Recreation Center is especially designed to serve individuals with
disabilities. The center has programs throughout the year, and visitors can use
the multipurpose room, kitchen, computers, and picnic areas, or take part in crafts
Beverly Sheffield Education Center/Splash! Into the Edwards Aquifer is an
interactive exhibit about the geology and biology of the Edwards Aquifer. Learn
about the habitat of the Barton Springs salamander, how watersheds and aquifers
work, and more.
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