Monday, December 31, 2018

The Best Waterfall in Texas is in Fort Worth - Sunday, December 30, 2018

Our drive to Fort Worth this morning had very little traffic and on-again-off-again rain. It was a quick trip. So quick, in fact, we arrived at the downtown Sheraton an hour early for the 11:30 a.m. Volksmarch meeting time. No problem, across the street is the Ft. Worth Water Gardens. 

Because we are so enamored with the Water Gardens, this blog is totally dedicated to this downtown wonder. I will write a separate blog about the rest of downtown Fort Worth next. 

It's hard to believe that what we were about to see was, in the late 1800s, "Hell's Half Acre," an area of dance halls, bordellos, saloons, and gambling parlors. This area finally ceased to exist in the 1960s when the area was cleared to make room for the Tarrant County Convention Center.

Upon entering the water garden, our mouths dropped open and we were in awe. For two people who love waterfalls, the Active Pool made us go, "WOW!" I told Bob it reminded me of an Escher painting.

Active Pool (steps into the depths are
the diagonal line from left down to right).
Bob going down the steps.
Bob at the bottom of the Active Pool.
The totally scary steps (no handrails!).
I made it down (and back up).
Surrounded by 360 degrees of falls.
Each area of the Water Gardens has a sign with the "Philosophy," "CanYou See?," and "Statistics" of that section of the park. For example, the sign for the Active Pool had this to say under "Philosophy:"
"The Active Pool expresses exuberance, exemplifying architect Philip Johnson's sense of play. In an interview about the park, Johnson described how he designed the Active Pool to appear like a canyon lined with rushing water. He arranged descending viewing platforms so that water travels beneath visitors as they walked to the bottom level.
"Unfortunately, on June 16, 2004, four visitors -- three children and one adult -- died when one of the children fell into the central pool and the other three rushed in to rescue the child. Those who died are Myron Dukes, Lauren Dukes, Christopher Dukes and Jauntrice Deadman. The pool was closed immediately and a new design was constructed in 2005-2006 to make it safer.
"Scenes from the 1976 movie 'Logan's Run,' starring Michael York, were filmed at the Fort Worth Water Gardens."
The sign had this to say under "Can You See?"
"The noise level in this part of the garden is intentional. Johnson designed the Active Pool as a mirror of the Quiet Pool -- the all encompassing peace and silence of the Quiet Pool is as absorbing as the noise of rushing water in the Active Pool. The sound of rushing water also wraps itself around the visitor, washing away reminders of the city lying just outside the garden's walls."
  • Pool is 38 feet below ground level.
  • 710 feet of hidden troughs feed 10,500 gallons per minute into the central pool. 
All of this brought about Bob's comment, "This is the best waterfall in Texas!" I must admit it's pretty spectacular. Even though it was 38 degrees at noon, many people were exploring the Active Pool. 

A busy day at the Active Pool.
There are signs posted everywhere no swimming is allowed. It sure seems like it would be easy to fall into that structure of rushing water. I was SUPER careful when I went down to the bottom!

Next, in the Water Gardens, we came to Mountain, a cluster of stacked blocks that are each 20" high. Even though there are signs posted that say "No Climbing," many people were climbing to the top, including Bob. I would have gone up too, but my knee started hurting yesterday and, after I tried one step on this "mountain," I said, "Nope, no way."

The creators of the Fort Worth Water Gardens, Philip Johnson and John Burgee, "designed the gardens as a series of micro-environments, each stimulating to the senses. The mountain was designed to give visitors the sense of the real thing. The 20-inch steps cascade into one another, creating the sensation of mountainous topography." The mountain is 20 feet above ground level.

When Bob climbed to the top of the mountain, he wanted me to go up because he had a view of all the parts of the park from up there. Since I couldn't get up there without seriously hurting my knee, we continued to see the rest of the park on the normal walkways and stairs.

The Quiet Pool was a total surprise. Steps dropped down 16 feet into another awesome space. The 22' high brown walls around the Quiet Pool are topped by a 650'-long trough (like an acequia/aqueduct) that spills 450 gallons of water a minute down the walls into a small moat below. This all gets recirculated by pumps under the Quiet Pool.

Looking down into the Quiet Pool.
Bob descending to
the Quiet Pool.
Bob with bald cypress trees.
The Quiet Pool with 22'-high walls of
cascading water lined with bald cypress trees.
If you make it here, be sure to read all the signs. There's a lot about the inspiration for this place.

From the Quiet Pool, we came upon the Aerated Water Pool which sits 40' below ground level. Here, 38 special nozzles spray 871 gallons of water per minute.

Aerated water pool.
The space we saw last was Central Square. The sign here relates Johnson and Burgee designed the Gardens as "a playground for the senses." The gardens different areas remove visitors from the harshness of the city. Johnson designed the "processionals," or pathways, to lead visitors from one experience to the other, to have different experiences in each area, but not get lost in the Gardens...all paths pour into the Central Square.

Statistics about the whole park:
"Over 500 species of plants and trees are found in this park. The Fort Worth Water Gardens cover a four-and-a-half block square, or roughly four acres, in downtown Fort Worth. Every minute, 19,000 gallons of water move through the Garden's 10 miles of pipes and flows past seven miles of retaining walls."
In our experience's traveling, this is a highlight...a must see. We spent 45 minutes here. 

Now it's time to meet the Volksmarchers and do our 10k (6.2 mi.) walk. 


  1. You certainly do find some interesting places when you VolKsmarch.

    1. Yes, we always say we'll never know what we're going to find. A week and a half ago, Bob and I were doing the Mission San Jose to Mission Concepcion Volksmarch here in San Antonio when we came upon a State Crossover Bicycle Race Championship in a park we walked by. I got some good photos of the bike races. You'll see them when I get that blog written.

      We plan to be in Corpus/Port Aransas from Jan. 5-9, but we won't be at Gulf Waters. I'll PM you. We'd love to have you come over for dinner.

      Susan & Bob


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