Clear and icy, these springs over the years have drawn Indians, pioneers, and tourists to this spot. The waters are brought from the limestone strata to the surface by the Balcones Fault, which bisects Central Texas. Average flow is 27,000,000 gallons daily.
During 1730-1731, Spanish friars located three missions here. Colorful settler William "Uncle Billy" Barton patented the land about 1837, naming two of the springs for his daughters Parthenia and Eliza. His two tame baby buffalos soon began to attract sightseers to his place, in spite of constant danger from Indian attacks.
As the place gained in popularity, one astute Austin merchant installed a merry-go-round here and rented bathing suits to swimmers. In 1871 he and several others built ice-making machines at the springs. In addition, flour mills, sawmills, and a quarry appeared along the creek banks.
About 1875 the riverboat "Sunbeam" ran excursions to Barton's at 50 cents a round trip. At one period a ferry was located here on a main road to Austin.
Between 1901 and 1913 A. J. Zilker, leading merchant, bought this land and in 1918 and 1931 deeded it to the people of Austin for use as a park.