SAN ANTONIO – Government Canyon State Natural Area was once considered a hidden gem, but now encompasses more than 12,000 acres within the borders of San Antonio.
"It's not uncommon to have people feel that it's associated with Camp Bullis, or one of the military organizations, or that it's off limits to the public, because it has the word 'government' in it," said park ranger John Koepke. "But, you know, a rose by any other name."
Government Canyon State Natural Area is not the catchiest name, but it's open to the public, and there is a story behind the name.
In the 1850s, new cavalry posts were going up west of San Antonio, including near Bandera, and the military needed a way to get there. So, Fort Sam Houston officials decided they should cut through what was then, rough Apache country.
"A small military survey crew was put together, led by Col. Joseph E. Johnston," Koepke said.
Around 20 men followed a well-known creek for water, taking months to complete the job. A few years later, those living near the military route gave it a name.
"In the description of the land, they talk about it being located on the Joseph E. Johnston Route that cuts through the government's canyon," Koepke said.
The route is essentially gone, as is any military affiliation, but the name stuck.
In the 1980s, a coalition, which included the city of San Antonio, bought the land to protect the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. The land purchase created a virtual oasis in the midst of a sprawling city.
Government Canyon State Natural Area first opened to the public in 2005.
Below is a map that shows the unique Texas town names KSAT’s Justin Horne has covered in the past. (Click here if you can’t see it.)