Parthenia Spring, the fourth largest spring in Texas, is fed by the Edwards Aquifer and discharges as part of Barton Creek. Before western colonization of the area, the Native Americans used the springs as healing grounds. Until it burned down at the end of the 19th century, a flour mill utilized part of the spring-fed creek. In 1917, Barton Spring was designated a city park. At the time, only manmade rock dams were built to create a pool for swimming, and after every flood, the dam would have to be rebuilt. In 1929, a permanent lower concrete dam was constructed, and the upper concrete dam followed only three years later creating Barton Springs Pool. A concrete tunnel beneath the north sidewalk of the pool bypasses all creek water from upstream of the pool (except during flood events), discharging the creek water into Barton Creek downstream of the lower pool dam. Although Barton Springs Salamanders inhabit Barton Springs Pool, it is open to the public year round with little to no human disturbance to the salamanders or their habitat.
Individual salamanders are usually observed around the main spring outflows, hidden within a 1 to 6" deep zone of gravel and cobble overlying a coarse sandy or bare limestone substrate. These areas are noticeably clear of fine silt or decomposed organic debris and appear to be kept clean by the briskly flowing spring water. Salamanders are also occasionally found around minor spring outlets within the limestone fissures.