Lago Vista, Texas
Lago Vista, Texas is located on the Northern shores of Lake Travis. The city extends over 8.7 square miles of land and 0.6 square miles of water. Residents and tourists absolutely love the abundant wildlife, scenery, and lake lifestyle that Lago Vista has to offer. Lago Vista is also home to several wineries, golf courses, marinas, and performing arts.
Access to Austin, Texas, is extremely accessible through the Cap Metro Metrorail system in Lago Vista. It is also home to the private Rusty Allen Airport. This airport was the center for Hurricane Katrina relief flights in 2005. The Lago Vista Airpower Museum can also be found at this airport.
Lago Vista regularly hosts a several annual events. In January, Jonestown & Lago Vista’s Chamber hosts a Casino Nite. A golf tournament is held in October where residents can play Chamber members. The Jonestown annual Cajun Cook-Off takes place every march. The Cook-Off is full of appetizing cajun food, music, and festivities. The annual La Primavera Bike Race is held on the first weekend in March. A kiddies bike race is also offered on Saturday.
There are five private lakeside parks in Lago Vista that offer swimming, a marina, a clubhouse, and a fitness area and activity area. The two golf courses in the area are The Lago Vista Golf Course and The Highland Lakes Golf Course. Both courses have amazing views of Lake Travis and offer a course for all skill levels to be challenged.
Lake Travis is a reservoir on the Colorado River in central Texas in the United States. The reservoir was formed in 1942 by the construction of Mansfield Dam on the western edge of Austin, Texas by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), and was built specifically to contain floodwaters in a flash-flood prone region. During its construction, after a severe flood in July 1938, the height of the dam was raised to add storage capacity for floodwaters. Serving principally as a flood-control reservoir, Lake Travis' historical minimum to maximum water height change is nearly 100 feet. In 2018 alone, it saw a 20-foot depth increase within a single 24-hour period of time. With 30 square miles of surface area, Lake Travis has the largest storage capacity of the seven reservoirs known as the Highland Lakes, and stretches 65 miles (105 km) upriver from western Travis County in a highly serpentine course into southern Burnet County to Max Starcke Dam, southwest of the town of Marble Falls. Besides being used for flood control and as a water supply, the lake is also used for electrical power generation and recreation.
The Pedernales River, a major tributary of the Colorado River, flows into the lake from the southwest in western Travis County.
Lake Travis is well-known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, including fishing, boating, swimming, scuba diving, picnicking, camping, and zip lining. Another recreational use, nude sunbathing and swimming, is permitted in Hippie Hollow Park. This picturesque park is located near the eastern end of Lake Travis and holds the distinction of being the only legal clothing optional park in Texas. Lake Travis is generally considered one of the clearest lakes in Texas. It is a vital water supply for the nearby city of Austin, Texas and the surrounding metropolitan area.
In ranking lakes in Texas for accidental fatalities, Lake Travis was in first-place in 2011 and tied for second-place for total deaths over the years 2000-2015. Six people drowned in Lake Travis in 2018, out of 29 total boating deaths reported across Texas that year.
Marble Falls was founded by Adam Rankin Johnson in 1887, a former Indian fighter and Confederate general, known as "Stovepipe" Johnson for his Civil War escapades, which included duping the Union army in Newburgh, Indiana, with fake "cannons," constructed from stovepipes and wagon wheels. Johnson had viewed the natural Marble Falls during his pre-war days as a Burnet County surveyor, and had dreamed of building an industrial city, powered by the tumbling Colorado River, not to be confused with the river of the same name in Colorado and Arizona. Despite a "friendly fire" incident which blinded him near the end of the Civil War, General Johnson followed through with his dream, facilitating the construction of a railroad to nearby Granite Mountain in 1884, then (with ten partners, including one son, one nephew and two sons-in-law) platting the townsite and selling lots, beginning July 12, 1887. Johnson built a fine home, a college (soon to be home of the "Falls on the Colorado Museum") and a large factory near the falls. The town grew to a population of 1,800 within ten years.
Marble Falls made history in 1917 by electing Ophelia Crosby "Birdie" Harwood as the first woman mayor in Texas, three years before women were allowed to vote.
When the Max Starcke Dam was completed in 1951, the marble falls which had given the town its name were submerged under the new Lake Marble Falls. While the town's economy struggled through the drought of the 1950s, a new economy based on tourism and retirement began to grow in the 1970s. During the last thirty years, Marble Falls has grown into the retail and entertainment center for the Highland Lakes area, and continues to attract tourists, retirees and new businesses.
Lake Marble Falls is part of the Highland Lakes on the Colorado River, the largest chain of lakes in Texas. It hosts one of the largest drag boat races in the United States each August.
Granite Mountain is a solid dome, also known as a bornhardt, of pink granite (pink granite is also known as Sunset Red) rising over 860 feet one mile west of Marble Falls, Texas. Since quarry operations began in the late 19th century, the distinctive pink-red colored rock has been used in the construction of the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, and also for the construction of the Galveston Seawall. The mountain no longer looks like a geographic feature because of the heavy mining, which has fully covered its surface. A similar but much larger area known as Enchanted Rock State Natural Area can be seen in its undisturbed state west of Marble Falls near Fredericksburg, Texas.
Dead Man’s Hole
The Civil War between the Union and Confederacy famously raged in Congress and on the battlefield. Less documented were the clashes between partisan groups in small neighborhoods and communities. For some unlucky Union sympathizers the war fatally ended in a gaping Texas sinkhole.
Dead Man’s Hole, as it would be baptized, was discovered in 1821 by Ferdinand Leuders, an entomologist observing nocturnal insects. He recorded his findings without taking much note of the spacious cavity. He had no idea he had stumbled upon what would become a notorious burial ground for ideological murders and lynchings. The hole, located in southern Burnet County, Texas is caused by a buildup of natural gas pressure. It measures 7 feet in diameter at the surface and has a cavernous depth of about 15 stories.
As the Civil War brought destruction and death to the United States, groups of vigilante secessionists materialized in the South wreaking havoc on anyone associated with the Union. These anarchic gangs, colloquially known as bushwhackers and fire-eaters, harassed, robbed, and murdered those with different political and ideological views. One such victim was John R. Scott, a New York born judge living in Burnet County. Despite having four sons serving in the Confederate army, Scott was deemed guilty of espousing Union sympathies and was threatened anonymously. As he fled to Mexico, Scott was assailed by a group of bushwhackers who shot him and jettisoned the body in the fateful Dead Man’s Hole.
Similar narratives fill local chronicles. Union sympathizers were either killed on the spot and thrown down the cavern or dragged to it and murdered after a hasty trial. It is thought that 17 bodies in total ended up in Dead Man’s Hole. A mysterious epilogue to the hole’s gruesome history occurred after sacks of bones were collected from the sinkhole. Awaiting a proper burial in the Burnet County Courthouse, the bones disappeared, never to be recovered.
Granite Shoals was incorporated as a city by a vote of area residents in 1966. The original city comprised various sections of the Sherwood Shores subdivision, which was at the time the largest platted subdivision in the state of Texas. The Sherwood Shores subdivisions were created from the Phillips, Naumann and Ebeling ranches in 1962. In November 2005, residents voted to adopt a home rule charter to govern the city. In 2006, the city hired its first city manager.
The major industry in Granite Shoals is granite mining, and the city is popular with lake enthusiasts with its 18 city parks, 14 of which are located on Lake Lyndon B. Johnson. The city's municipal complex is home to the Andy Roddick Foundation International Tennis Center, a planned center of 18 adult courts and at least two QuickStart courts for kids. The QuickStart courts became operational in 2010, and fundraising events are in place for the remainder of the center. In 2011, the city received a grant to fund the Leonel Manzano Hike, Bike and Run Trails at its municipal complex, which will have 2-mile and 1/2-mile trails. Leonel Manzano grew up in Granite Shoals. The city is undergoing strong growth with the opening of a new bank and several new stores.
Martin D. King with J. M. Trussell purchased the land that would become Kingsland in 1877. The name contributed by Martin.
In the 1880s a cotton gin was operating on site and that drew other businesses to form the nucleus for a community. In 1892 the Austin and Northwestern Railroad connected to Llano through Kingsland, essentially putting the town “on the map.”
The 1907 population was reported as a substantial 750 residents, but a fire in the early 20s caused a steep decline to only 150 people by 1925.
After the 1960s, the area became known as a retirement haven, boosting the population and establishing a firm economic foundation.
Among Kingsland's notable places is the 1901 Victorian-style Antlers Hotel, a railroad resort in Kingsland that fell into disrepair in the early 1900s, but was purchased and restored in the 1990s and reopened as the Antlers Hotel, with the Grand Central Cafe Restaurant in Queen Anne architecture and an historic railroad district. The house where The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was filmed (the Texas Chainsaw House) is located here and has been restored as a restaurant. It was moved here from Round Rock, Texas, from the site of what is now the La Frontera development in Williamson County in the 1998 by the owners of the hotel, and completely renovated to become an on-site restaurant.
"The Slab", where the road traverses the clear Llano River as it crosses over granite slabs and boulders, hosts residents and tourists to bask in the warm sun and swim or wade in the clear water running over the granite.
Lake Buchanan was formed by the construction of Buchanan Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority to provide a water supply for the region and to provide hydroelectric power. Work on the dam itself began in April 1931, but was suspended a year later. Work resumed in 1935, with the dam completed three years later. However, deliberate impounding of the reservoir began in May 1937. Buchanan Dam, a structure over 2 mi (3.2 km) in length, was completed in 1939. Lake Buchanan was the first of the Texas Highland Lakes to be formed, and with 22,333 acres (34.9 sq mi; 90.4 km2) of surface water, it is also the largest. The surface of the lake includes area in both Burnet and Llano Counties. The lake is west of the city of Burnet, Texas. Initially, the dam and resulting reservoir project was known as Hamilton Dam and Reservoir, but its name was changed to honor Texas State Representative James P. Buchanan upon the completion of the project; Buchanan had been responsible for securing the funding for the project. The flooding of the lake forced the community of Bluffton to relocate 5 mi (8.0 km) westward. The abandoned community was soon inundated; however, a drought in 2011 caused Lake Buchanan's water level to drop significantly, exposing the remains of the town.
Inks Lake is a reservoir on the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country in the United States. The reservoir was formed in 1938 by the construction of Inks Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority. Located near Burnet, Texas, the lake serves to provide flood control in tandem with Lake Buchanan and features the smallest hydroelectric power plant on the Highland Lakes chain. Inks Lake was named for Roy B. Inks, one of the original board members of the Lower Colorado River Authority, and serves as a venue for outdoor recreation, including fishing, boating, swimming, camping, and picnicking. The other reservoirs on the Colorado River are Lake Buchanan, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, Lake Austin, and Lady Bird Lake.
In December 1847, a company of the Texas Ranger Division commanded by Henry E. McCulloch established a station at the site of present-day Burnet for the protection of frontier settlers from Indian raids. In March 1849, the station was chosen as a federal fort and named Fort Croghan.
A town was founded next to Fort Croghan in 1852, when Burnet County was established. The town was originally named Hamilton after John Hamilton, who owned a league and labor of land nearby. In August 1852 a post office was established in Hamilton and named Burnet Courthouse. In 1857 thirty-five residents of the town petitioned the state legislature to change the name of the town to Burnet since there was another town in Texas named Hamilton. The name was changed in 1858. Major growth occurred with the arrival of the Austin and Northwestern Railroad in April 1882, when Burnet became the railhead for the area to the west. After the railroad was extended to Llano in 1892, Burnet declined as a supply point and became a farming and livestock center. The City of Burnet was incorporated in 1933. The Burnet Bulletin newspaper has served the community since 1873 and is the official paper of record for the city and Burnet County.
For his services in the Texas Revolution, John Burleson received 1,280 acres (5.2 km2) of land and established a permanent settlement in the 1850s. The city was first named Burleson; however, the name was gradually changed to Lampasas Springs because of the existence of seven mineral springs. When the county was created in 1856, the law specified "The county seat shall be same name as the county." The city of Lampasas was officially incorporated in 1883.
Several theories attempt to explain how the name Lampasas came to be. The Texas Almanac states the word came from a Spanish word for "lilies" found in nearby streams. Another source states the word comes from the Spanish name Lampazos. The name was given to the local river by the Spanish Aquayo Expedition in 1721. It is believed the name was inspired by a Mexican town that also had beautiful springs. The town was also the location of the birth of the Farmers' Alliance, founded in 1876.
The Mother's Day Flood of 1957 had Sulphur Creek, a local river, strike the city in devastating flash flood which claimed five lives and destroyed many homes, businesses, and other property around downtown Lampasas. In the aftermath, a series of levees and reservoirs was constructed to prevent damage from future catastrophes.
Since 1972, Lampasas has held an annual fair called the Spring Ho festival each July.
Like nearby Mineral Wells, Lampasas has mineral springs health spas which once claimed to cure "everything". The 25-bed Rollins Brook Community Hospital in Lampasas was established by two physicians in 1935: Herbert Bailey Rollins, originally from Pineville, Kentucky, and W. M. Brooks. In 1958, Rollins Brook was the smallest accredited hospital in Texas. In 1981, Rollins was sold to a for-profit health care provider in Houston. Over the next decade, the hospital passed through a succession of owners. In 1991, the hospital declared bankruptcy and closed its doors without notice. Thereafter, citizens, unable to locate government or foundation grants, raised some $600,000 in community fund-raising activities to reclaim the facility. When it reopened on July 21, 1991, Rollins Brook became the only community hospital to survive bankruptcy. The story was broadcast by ABC News with Peter Jennings. In 1997, the hospital was sold again, this time to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 2005, Rollins Brook opened a new surgical section.
The town of Evant was first a settlement called "Langford Cove", settled by Asa Langford and his family in 1855. Langford served as postmaster in the first post office, named "Cove", established in February 1876. By the late 1850s, Langford had built a general store, a blacksmith shop, and a sawmill near the current site of the town.
An Alabama man named Evant Brooks purchased some 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land from Langford in the late 1870s. In 1881, Brooks donated 60 acres (240,000 m2) of land "for sale and settlement as a town", and by 1884 the growing community changed its name to "Evant" in Brooks' honor. In the 1890s, the community had a cotton gin, three general stores, a gristmill, and a hotel. Its population was around 10 residents.
Evant continued to grow, reporting a peak population of 550 sometime in the 1950s. The town was formally incorporated in the mid-1970s. Its population at the time was 540 and has continued to shrink. According to the 1990 census, the town's population was 444, and by 2000 it had dropped to 393.
Hamilton and Hamilton County's history is studded with anecdotes and characters worthy of several books. Many of the first settlers relocated from Southern States -(particularly South Carolina and Mississippi) before the Civil War.
Both county and town were named after James Hamilton who was a former Governor of South Carolina. After moving to Texas he became part of Texas' fledgling diplomatic corps. In 1857 he drowned off the coast of Galveston during a maritime accident after first giving his life-vest to a woman and child.
This spirit of selflessness is also reflected in local 19th Century heroine Anne Whitney - a schoolteacher who died protecting her charges when Comanches attacked her one-room schoolhouse.
1858: County organized
1861: post office opened
1896: Population reaches 1,100
1899: Hamilton is flooded. Wide spread destruction - slight loss of life
1907: The Stephenville, North and South Texas Railway entered Hamilton
1954: another flood causes greater damage than the first
1980: population reaches high water mark of 3,189
The town motto is "Where Everybody Is Somebody!” Named for its founder's unincorporated hometown in Calloway County in southwestern Kentucky near Murray, just north of the Tennessee state boundary, Hico's original location was on Honey Creek. When the Texas Central line (part of the historic Katy Railroad) was built nearby, the citizens moved 2.5 miles (4.0 km) to the rail line. Hico was incorporated in 1883 and became the Hamilton County shipping center. Over the years, it became a cattle and cotton market. Today, ranching and tourism dominate the local economy.
"Brushy Bill" Roberts and Billy the Kid
Ollie P. Roberts, usually known as Ollie L. Roberts, "Brushy Bill" Roberts, or William Henry Roberts, a resident of Hico during the late 1940s, claimed to have been the outlaw Billy the Kid. Hico has capitalized on his infamy by opening a small Billy the Kid Museum, where visitors can decide whether Brushy Bill was indeed William H. Bonney. Brushy Bill claimed to have been born in Buffalo Gap south of Abilene, Texas. The museum offers a taped video presentation of Fox News, narrating a documentary about Brushy Bill's claim. There is also a replica of a 19th-century jail in the museum and other artifacts of the period.
A marker devoted to Brushy Bill, located on Pecan Street in downtown Hico, reads: "Ollie L. 'Brushy Bill' Roberts, alias Billy the Kid, died in Hico, Texas on December 27, 1950. He spent the last days of his life trying to prove to the world his true identity and obtain the pardon promised him by the governor of the state of New Mexico (Lew Wallace). We believe his story and pray to God for the forgiveness he solemnly asked for [sic]." The NBC television series Unsolved Mysteries did a segment on "Brushy Bill" Roberts' claim.
According to Jan Canup, several relatives, including a son and grandson, of former Sheriff Patrick F. Garrett claim that their kinsman never killed Billy the Kid. There were no reliable witnesses to what body was actually placed in the Kid's grave, according to this line of argument. The Garrett family contends that Sheriff Garrett and Billy the Kid may have even plotted to collect the $500 reward offered for the capture of the outlaw. Roberts' grave has not been revealed, thus preventing DNA authentication of the remains.
Next to the Brushy Bill marker on North Pecan Street is a large statue by the sculptor James Rice of Billy the Kid firing his gun. Downtown Hico, focused upon the Billy the Kid Museum on South Pecan Street, is a restored Western community with businesses appealing to tourists. There are antique stores, gift shops, a drink shop, restaurants, and a gourmet popcorn shop.
Hico has a small diner with a regional reputation: the Koffee Kup Family Restaurant, located at the main town intersection of Highway 281 (north-south) and Texas State Highway 6 (east-west). From the outside the restaurant appears small, but it can seat 116 and is open for all three meals. Owned by Lynn E. Allen (born 1947), a former Hico School Board member, the Koffee Kup is known throughout the region, having been featured on Bob Phillips's Texas Country Reporter syndicated television series. The restaurant is particularly known for its chicken-fried steak, strawberry pie, and other custard pies. Adjacent to the Koffee Kup is the historical home of photographer Frank Rufus Wiseman (built 1903), which houses antiques and a chocolate company.
Each July, Hico hosts Old Settlers Reunion at City Park. During the week the "Citizen of the Year" is recognized. Hico High School, which maintains a popular football team under Coach Randy Thornton, holds its homecoming observance at the same time as Old Settlers Day. Hico claims that its Old Settlers gathering, which dates to 1882, is the oldest of its kind in Texas. It has been held each year since 1882, except during World War II.
Hico has maintained a post office since 1861, and the first mail was carried by horseback. An early Hico business was Hico Ice and Cold Storage, which began in 1905. In time, it developed a major shipping market for eggs, chickens, and turkeys. The weekly newspaper, released on Thursdays, is the Hico News Review, edited and published by Jerry E. McAdams (born 1951). The publication is a Texas Press Association Award winner.
Across Highway 281 from the Hico News Review is the First Baptist Church, one of several congregations in the community. The historic First United Methodist Church, also on Highway 281, was organized in 1881, with some 25 charter members. Six area churches later merged to become the Hico Methodist body. The current yellow brick sanctuary dates to 1903. The church is known for it support of both Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts.
Ranch life, including horseback riding, hayrides, and camping, can be experienced at Timber Creek Ranch some 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Hico on Texas Highway 6. Hico hosts the Annual Texas Steak Cookoff in May. It boasts thousands of guests every year.
Stephenville is named after John M. Stephen, who settled there in 1854, and donated the land for the townsite laid out by George B. Erath when the county was organized in 1856. In the first two years of its settlement, the townsite was successful; by 1858, the population reached 776. However, the townsite was located in Comanche territory and raids were common. Also, the hardships of the American Civil War forced citizens to leave. The population declined until 1871, when it grew after Stephenville became an agriculture and livestock center. Coal mining also became important to the area in 1886, and was a major segment of the economy for the following three decades.
Stephenville was incorporated in 1889, with the arrival of the Fort Worth and Rio Grande Railway. In the 1890s, many of the buildings around the town square were built, Tarleton State University opened, and the community's two newspapers merged to become the Empire-Tribune, which is still in existence. In February 1907, the Stephenville North and South Texas Railway was chartered by Stephenville and Hamilton business interests which later sold the line in 1910 to the historic St. Louis Southwestern Railway of Texas system. In the 20th century, industry became an important part of Stephenville, and the population has steadily increased since the 1920s.
Stephenville is among several communities that call themselves the "Cowboy Capital of the World”.