William Barton settled near a springs west of the mouth of Shoal Creek in the 1830’s. He left a canoe on the north bank of the Colorado River so that people in the new settlement of Austin could visit his namesake. Barton’s canoe remained the only transportation across the river until the establishment of ferries in the late 1840s.
John J. Grumbles set up a regular ferry at Shoal Creek, at the western edge of the city, where William Barton kept his canoe. Shoal Creek remained one of the most important river crossings until the construction of permanent bridges.