The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 25, July 1921 - April, 1922 Page: 130
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The Southwestern HIistorical Quarterly
however, a masonry wall, or wasteway, was provided in the lower
bank of sufficient size to permit all the storm water to spill over
at that point, thereby not endangering the canal with wholesale
The water-wheel was another irrigating device which, in its
multiplicity, added to the picturesqueness of San Antonio in the
old days. These wheels were installed in the canals themselves.
They were of the undershot kind and had trough-like buckets fixed
at intervals around the periphery. The energy of the water flow-
ing in the acequia was utilized to turn these wheels, and so to lift
water for irrigating plots of ground lying higher than the canal
itself. Here again we detect the hand of the Moors. For, it
was that people who had originally appropriated the old Persian
wheel with rows of jars on its circumference and had taught its
use to the Spaniards.
About 1790 the missions of San Antonio were secularized. The
spiritual guardianship of the community was entrusted to the
parish church at Bexar; the canals and the farms they watered
became the property of the converted Indians and the settlers;
while the missions fell into ruins. The canals of the old padres
have now nearly all disappeared, but, where the encroachments
of modern times have not entirely obliterated them, we still find,
here and there, two parallel mounds of earth tracing the course of
the earliest furrows of civilization in Texas.
We see that the original policy of Imperial Spain with respect
to Texas practically failed. The noble efforts of the Franciscans
to convert the Indians to the faith, having been always att-nded
by great discouragements, ended at last in dismal failure. But
not so their enterprises in irrigation, for the net result of their
agricultural engineering can be called a success. The missionaries
solved the problem of surviving in the arid Southwest by digging
their acequias. That problem is fundamentally the same today.
The Spanish pioneers, two centuries ago, pointed the only way by
which Southwest Texas may hope to become a populous land.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 25, July 1921 - April, 1922, periodical, 1922; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101082/m1/136/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.