In the pages of history, you’ll find stories of inventions or structures that took on a role different from what was originally intended. For example, childhood favorite Play-Doh was originally marketed as a wallpaper cleaner! Closer to home, the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin was constructed to be...well, a bridge. It serves that purpose, of course, but today it’s also home to up to one-and-a-half million bats.

When it comes to water slides, Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels sets the standard. They opened in the summer of 1979, and have been known for the fastest, the longest; you name it, they’ve engineered it. However, Schlitterbahn’s water slides were all designed for that purpose. We’d like to turn our attention to one of the Hill Country’s most popular water slides that earned that reputation by accident.

To get started, we need to take a time trip back to 1956, 23 years before Schlitterbahn even existed. The folks of Ingram needed to address an issue: the Guadalupe River, which flows through town, was prone to flooding, and a solution was needed to help control its rate of flow. Kerr County authorities asked engineer George Dahl of Freese & Nichols to design a dam. The Ingram Lake Dam, as it came to be known, was opened in 1956, forming Ingram Lake behind it. Since then, it has performed admirably at controlling the Guadalupe’s waters.

The creation of Ingram Lake opened up opportunities for water-based recreation. Almost immediately, it became a popular swimming hole and sailing spot. There’s nothing remarkable about that; the potential for recreation goes hand-in-hand when a new body of water is created. What’s fascinating about Ingram’s specific case is what happened next.

Unfortunately, it’s been lost to history who first discovered the Ingram Dam made a mighty fine water slide. It tilts downward at a 45-degree angle, and water flows over it at a mellow rate, where a person can easily stand. Over the years a thin layer of algae has grown on the dam, which has created the perfect slippery surface. For the past 60-some years, people have used tubes, mats, and nothing more than their rear ends, to enjoy the dam as a water slide.

Local business people took notice of the dam’s popularity, of course, so there are numerous food and drink vendors, as well as other shops, within easy walking distance of the lake’s shores. The lake, dam, and water slide come together to create the most popular recreational water site in Ingram! We’d like to think the folks who originally designed and built the dam would have a smile of satisfaction on their faces in reaction to what it’s become.

The Ingram Lake and Dam, along with its water slide, is open to the public, and there is no admission fee to enjoy your time on the water. We would like to emphasize there are no lifeguards on duty at the dam, so your enjoyment of the river and lake are completely at your own risk. Keep an eye on children and people who aren’t strong and able swimmers, and help them to stay safe. Shoes with non-slip treads are highly recommended, as the dam’s surface is slippery underfoot. In short, watch out for one another, so everyone can have fun safely!

Once you’ve enjoyed the unique water slide at the Ingram Dam, there’s a lot more to do not only in Ingram, but the rest of the Hill Country, too! When you use the free download of the Texas Hill Country Travel App, over 2,300 business and attraction listings in over 30 towns are at your fingertips!