Over the centuries, all who found their way to this area have been blessed by the river and the abundance of life that its water has provided. For the native American hunters and gatherers, the numerous deer, bear, mountain lions, alligators, raccoons, squirrels, cats, coyote and javelinas provided ample meat along with fish and water fowl. The Spaniards, exploring their way north out of Mexico through deserts and semi-arid South Texas, found the timber, fertile soil, and clear water well suited for their purposes of settlement and colonization. The river, first named St. Anthony de Padua, was soon diverted into channels and acequias for irrigation of fields and household use. The first bridge built to span the river was here at Commerce Street. The priests at the Alamo were afraid the easy access by the soldiers from the garrison would endanger the women of the mission. The bugle call of "El Deguello", from Santa Anna's army came from these banks. It signaled, no quarters, utter destruction, and no mercy for the defenders of the Alamo. As the mission period gave way to a more established society, the river was used for numerous bath houses natatoriums, breweries, and mills. San Antonio began a romance with the river with festivals, fairs, parties and picnics on the banks. The restaurant founded in 1946 by Alfred F. Beyer, sits on land first granted title in 1777 by the King of Spain. The Spanish Colonial period hacienda became the core of the new business. The cedar door and window lintels, the fireplace, and thick rock walls, are still evident inside the building. Casa Rio was the first San Antonio business to open its doors to the River and take advantage of the River's setting. Canoes, gondolas, and paddle boats, evolving into tour and dinner boats, began here and helped create the Riverwalk of today.
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