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    SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TEXAS

    Texas Ghost Town
    Wilson County, South Texas
    Hwy 87 at FM 539
    14 miles SW of Seguin
    20 miles E of San Antonio

    The population is given as 362,
    however "old" Sutherland Springs rounds out at 0.

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    History in a Pecan Shell

    Sutherland Springs was founded by a Dr. John Sutherland Jr. who set up a post office and stagecoach stop in 1851. It was officially designated the County Seat of Wilson County in 1860, but folks were busy during the Civil War and when it was over, some people preferred Floresville as county seat and so it was.


    When the railroad came in 1877, it became known as the "Saratoga of the South" for its waters.

    Sutherland Springs, Texas  cowboys
    Sutherland Springs Old Photos >
    Early 1900s photo courtesy James M Ziegler

    Sutherland Springs Today

    Today what was Sutherland Springs sits just South and East of the highway. Two buildings spaced far apart are all that is left of the Old Town, although there are street signs.

    One of the buildings is the former bank. Hackberry trees (and poison ivy) now grow in the middle of the roofless room and the vault is still there with its cast iron ornamentation around the door.

    Sod farms have become a part of the local economy and the owners of the old 52 room Hotel Sutherland razed it to have soil to grow more grass. The building had been closed since 1923.
    tree grows in bank
    Our Guide and Host, C.F. Eckhardt
    ghost town band ruins
    50% of what's left of downtown Sutherland Springs
    old building in old town Sutherland Springs, Texas
    The building that is not the former bank
    ghost town bank vault with tree
    Roofless bank building in ghost town Sutherland Springs

    L- The bank vault
    R- Back of bank building

    Old Town Sutherland Springs  panaramic view
    A Panoranic View of Old Town Sutherland Springs
    Polley Houst
    The Joseph Polley House (c. 1850)
    still stands on Highway 87 near Sutherland Springs

    TE photos, November 2000

    You have to look hard to find information on Sutherland Springs beyond what is found in the Handbook of Texas. To furnish our readers with more than this we turned to the excellent Taking the Waters in Texas: Springs, Spas and Fountains of Youth by Janet Mace Valenza. (University of Texas Press, 2000)

    Sutherland Springs was an extremely popular resort and there was a claim that within a very small area there were over 100 separate sulphur springs. The main bathing areas were by the river (Cibolo Creek) and the one with darker water was called "black springs" and was reserved for men while women used the "white springs". One legend has it that the waters of the Black Springs never froze.

    Attempts were made to bottle the water from Sutherland Springs and shares were sold; however no bottling plant ever materialized. The springs were popular with religious groups for holding revivals there and after 1917, the US Army contracted to have wounded soldiers from WWI recuperate there.

    Because of its isolation, trains were about the only way to visit the springs. During its heyday women and children would take a train to the springs during the week and then fathers/ husbands would join them on the weekend.

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    Sutherland Springs Related Stories

  • Tyrant's Gold by Mike Cox (Texas Tale Column)
    When General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna came to Texas in 1836 he left behind death and destruction -- and possibly gold.

  • Sutherland Springs Old Photos
    Early 1900s photo courtesy James M Ziegler
  • Our special thanks to Author and Raconteur C.F. Eckhardt who guided us to Sutherland Springs and suggested it be included in our Ghost Town series. Eckhardt is the author of several books on Texas Folklore. Today his columns are published here in Texas Escapes. - Editor

    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic photos of their town, please contact us.
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