Marker No: 17085
Aluminum 27 x 42 Subject Marker
Geographic: 29.705200, -98.131699
Location: 133 Landa Street, New Braunfels
Marker Text: In 1847, William Hunter Meriwether, a native Virginian and plantation owner, purchased 480 acres of land in the Comal Springs area from Maria Antonio de Veramendi Garza and her husband, Rafael C. Garza, and 200 acres from the German Emigration and Railroad Company for the purpose of developing a milling industry. In 1847, he dammed the Geyser Springs, locally called Las Fontanas, and used slave labor to dig a mill race canal from the Comal Springs to the Comal Creek. This created water pressure to run a grist mill, cotton gin and sawmill. The only domestic structure that remains on the original property is the small Meriwether mill house, across from the mill pond.
In 1859, Meriwether and his wife left New Braunfels, selling their holdings in the Comal Springs tract to Joseph Landa. The purchase included the existing businesses and water rights. Landa and his son, Harry, expanded the milling operation to include a flour mill, cottonseed oil complex, ice plant and hydroelectric plant. The Landa industries continued to operate until the family began to liquidate their assets in the mid 1920s. In 1936, after being bought by the city, much of the original Meriwether property became the beautiful recreation area known as Landa Park.
The canal has provided hydrological and hydroelectric power for the early mill operations as well as electrical power generating plants. Meriwether was the first entrepreneur to develop the springs, opening up the area for industry. His work coincided with the rapid, permanent development of New Braunfels, evident in the fact that it became the fourth largest city in Texas in 1850, just five years after its establishment. (2012)