Preservationists push to save spring that quenched Dallas settlers

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on May 15, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 10:34 AM

Pemberton Spring

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DALLAS — Support is growing to preserve a small natural spring near a proposed equestrian center by the city of Dallas.

Preservationists worry that Pemberton Spring — also known as White Rock Spring — could be jeopardized by plans to build the $12 million Texas Horse Park.

“Clear water from the ground has gotten to be a rarity,” said Bill Pemberton, whose family once owned the spring that now bears his name.

Pemberton’s grandfather settled the area in the 1880s, and relied on the spring’s water. Before him, its waters nourished early pioneers and Native Americans, he said.

Legend has it Sam Houston even once drank from its cool waters quietly seeping from the ground.

“I think it’s beautiful, especially for Dallas County because it’s unique,” Pemberton said. “I think God did a good job creating beauty.”

Pemberton says the water is still pure enough to drink, and encourages visitors to take a sip.

“It is just pristine water,” the 75-year-old said as he gulped a handful of its water. “That tastes very good!”

The city of Dallas now owns the spring, but Pemberton still lives nearby. City leaders soon plan to build a riding center as part of its sweeping Trinity River Corridor Project, which includes not only an equestrian center but also an accompanying 18-hole golf course.

Pemberton and others hope the spring can be preserved, and possibly opened to the public. A Facebook page, Save Pemberton’s Big Spring, was launched and has been posting updates and photos of surveyors working nearby.

“It’s a very special spring,” said Bill Holston, a nature enthusiast who has visited the spring and written about it. “In fact, it’s the only thing like it I know in this entire region.”

In a memo issued last week, Dallas’ Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan assured City Council members the city will not disrupt the spring.

“This project does not include the area surrounding the natural spring,” Jordan wrote. “A fence will be installed around the perimeter this month and interpretive signage will be developed to mark this unique asset.”

Pemberton found the assurance encouraging, but hopes the city leaves as much of the area alone as possible.

“We would hope this small area can remain as is,” he said, as goats grazed on pastures nearby. “Let’s not just bombard the spring!”

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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