Petal Peepers and History Creepers

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It’s that time in central Texas- wildflower days. This morning was sunny and the air was cool, and I took my mom on a little wildflower drive. According to my mileage app, we drove 90.1 miles. We left Dripping Springs, going west on U.S. 290 and turned north on U.S. 281, traveling through the edge of Johnson City, heading through Round Mountain and on to Marble Falls.

Favorite

Traffic jam in Marble Falls due to construction, but that didn’t stop the intrepid Austinites. Mom recalled living in Marble Falls in the 1920’s, when she was in elementary school. We turned around at Gateway North before crossing the Colorado River and I asked her who had owned the land under us. She said it had belonged to the Micheles, the family who owned the drugstore and the opera house in town. She pointed out the hillside where the Michele house had stood.

In 1927, Mom’s family had been leasing and living on the Lacy Ranch, a hilltop domain on the north side of the river. She remembers standing there, looking down on the little city, watching as a fire consumed a great part of downtown. She recalls that Miss Mattie Houck, the milliner, threw her trunks of hat décor out the second-floor window in order to save her inventory.

Frank in front of porch
Frank Alexander in front of the Lacy home and ranch he was leasing. Marble Falls, Texas, circa 1927

Mom also reminisced about the beautiful falls on the Colorado River that flowed over marble slabs, after which the town is named. Those were buried underwater after 1951, when Max Starcke Dam created Lake Marble Falls.

We backtracked a bit, going south on U.S. 281 until we returned to Round Mountain and went left onto Ranch Road 962 East. Mom recalled the string of stores on the south side of that road that used to make up Round Mountain; a few little buildings are still there. One, very close to the road, was a shoe repair shop. The Round Mountain Store was a long stone building, set back from the road, but it was eventually torn down and the stones were taken to Austin for some other purpose. The Baptist Church was on the other side of North Cypress Creek from the rest of the town.

The Alexander Ranch, established by Mom’s grandparents, where Mom lived before the family moved to the metropolis of Marble Falls for better schools, was north of Round Mountain, close to Cypress Mills, adjoining the Croft Ranch. The Goethes and Wenmohses also lived in proximity, as did the Fuchs.

Below is a photo of the Alexander Ranch house in about 1910, or so.

Women are Effie, Mamie, and Hassie.
Women are Effie, Mamie, and Hassie.

By the way, part of this ranch, along with parts of several other old ranches make up 178 acres with a beautiful modern home that is currently for sale. If you are interested in a magnificent ranch land purchase, this would be it, and I would be glad to help you buy it.

Traveling to Austin by horse and wagon, or by Model T car, was an arduous affair, but on the few occasions the kids went along (to see a circus!), the family made the best of it, camping near the Pedernales River’s low-water crossing. Mom recalls her father walking alongside the truck, chocking the wheels on the narrow, unpaved road as Grandmother drove, to keep the car from sliding back down the muddy slope on the east side of the river. This is very close to what is now Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve. 

Here’s a Dodgen family camping trip on the Pedernales, about 1915:

group swimming in Pedernales-1

Two women and one man on Pedernales-1Dodgens in river-1

Somewhere along the way, the road name changed to Hamilton Pool Road. We came back to Dripping Springs along this route. Mom said that when she was a child, Hamilton Pool Road eventually came into a precursor to U.S. 71, and they followed that to Oak Hill and on into Austin.

In 2017 you can use these links to find your best wildflower route:

http://texas.wildflowersightings.org

http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/maintenance/wildflower-program.html

https://www.facebook.com/TexasWildflowerReport/

 

 

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