FORT STOCKTON, Texas — When you drive by Fort Stockton, it's hard to miss the big sign that welcomes you. Historic Fort Stockton has a back story to why it has its name but you might be surprised that it was once called Spring City.
Joe Lopez has been living in the area for as long as he can remember. He took his niece to see the canal for the first time.
"It's exciting for the people here," said Lopez. "It's nice to see but sometimes it decides to hide."
He's heard stories from his grandmother about when it used to flow all year-round. He said it was a place for families to come together.
Not only was it a fun gathering place, this was something that farmers needed.
Kirby Warnock's family has lived in Fort Stockton for over 103 years. His grandfather, Roland Warnock owned an Alfalfa farm east of town back in 1919. The family made a living bailing hay all year-round.
"My father always liked to say it established a good stable economy because they always knew they were getting water," said Warnock. "They can count on crops every year, they always had a sale source for them. Ranchers bought they hay."
Things were going great until the Alfalfa farm couldn't get any more water.
"My grandfather just said when he came to Fort Stockton, he was 22-years-old and the more he looked around, he figured he could do better here than anywhere else so he set roots here," said Warnock. "But my father and grandfather took it hard when the springs dried up."
That took a toll on the Warnock family. They were one of the nearly 150 families affected. Once the springs dried up, so did their alfalfa farm which later turned to mesquite. Then, the family lost their way of making a living.
'When the springs first returned in 1986, that was the first time they flowed since '62," said Warnock. "Our dad was telling us the flock of birds that used to come here every year because the creek was here. There were mallard ducks. To see flocks of ducks in Fort Stockton is amazing but my dad was touched by that. To see that happen and how much it affected my father, just to think of the possibilities again of what if we had flocks of ducks coming back in here."
That's part of a long-term plan. Comanche Springs flows for a while before it dries up again.
For now, it's the time for folks to see for themselves a glimpse of what Fort Stockton used to be.
There will be a celebration called SpringsFest on Saturday, March 12 in Fort Stockton. The community will be coming together to celebrate the springs. It's from 2-5:30 p.m. at the Annie Riggs Museum.