The land where this naturally forming grotto is hidden was originally owned by Morgan C. Hamilton. Sold to a cattle ranching family during the 1880s, the legend goes that the son of the new owners discovered the stunning natural phenomenon by chance while exploring his family’s new land. Although the grotto posed a danger to the family’s cattle, they recognized its tourism value and they opened it for recreational use soon after – naming it Hamilton Pool after the land’s first owner.
As the city of Austin grew, so did the popularity of the grotto. During the ’60s and ’70s Hamilton Pool was overrun with visitors. In an attempt to save this natural wonder, the land was purchased by Travis County where it is located. There are now strict visiting rules in place to protect it from further damage, and most of the original flora and fauna have returned.