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Walsh Landing a bit of informal lake culture in Tarrytown

Michael Barnes

You never know who will be relaxing in the heavy shade of live oaks and bald cypresses at Walsh Boat Landing. An elderly gentleman reading a newspaper. A young couple taking their dog for a swim. Fishing parties, water skiers or picnickers using the 4-acre City of Austin park as a boat launch.

The landing was originally part of the 1915 Walsh Place subdivision, the oldest residential district in Tarrytown. Though it looks out on multimillion-dollar homes across Lake Austin, it retains a marvelous small-town feel, like a roadside park, or one of those quiet pocket parks managed by the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Architectural historian Kim McKnight points out that the restroom facility — often the most important structure in any park — was designed in the modernist International Style, similar to ones found in Reed Park, Emma Long Park and Rosewood Park.

Yet it fits an ongoing and informal lake culture dating back to the 19th century, when the first of three dams impounded the Colorado River in the canyon that now confines Lake Austin. Catastrophic floods destroyed the first two dams before the Highland Lakes improved flood prevention upstream.

Walsh Boat Landing — just beyond Oyster Landing and its popular oases, such as Mozart's, Hula Hut and Abel's on the Lake — is one place locals visualize when they say "I remember the lakes and hills before they got fancy."