few road and street signs are all that's left of Cain City, a commercial
center and resort town once known to thousands, now all but forgotten.
Cain City began as the dream of an ambitious Kansas businessman
and promoter named Joseph Stinson. In 1913 Stinson, then living
in San Antonio, heard
about a railroad being built from Comfort
He traveled the proposed route looking for a place to build his
dream city, and in the hills 6 miles south of Fredericksburg,
he found it.
| The view from
Cain City overlooking the Pedernales River Valley.
July 2016 photo courtesy Michael
324 acres on a rise overlooking the Pedernales Valley. The country
to the west, extending down through Stonewall
and Hye, was then and still is
the most productive farming region in Gillespie
County. Stinson envisioned his city as the shipping point for
Pedernales Valley produce.
The name of Stinson's city came from a fundraising contest. The railroad
company promised to name a community along the route after the person
who raised the most money for the project, and Charley Cain, manager
of the Peden Iron and Steel Works of San
Antonio, was that person. Stinson's dream town became Cain City.
| Cain City old
Courtesy Fredericksburg Standard
|By 1914, a year
after the Fredericksburg & Northern Railroad came through, Cain City
had a depot, a general store, a lumber yard, a two-story hotel, a
filling station, and a farm produce warehouse. The bank came along
in 1917 followed by a drug store, a barber shop, and a dancehall.
There was a telephone exchange, a post office, a blacksmith shop,
and a church that doubled as a school.
Cain City had the first, and for a while the only, municipal water
system in Gillespie
County. Joseph Stinson built a storage tank high up on a hill
behind the hotel. A pump filled the tank with water, while gravity
provided ample water pressure to the town below.
Then a curious thing happened. Wealthy Texans, looking to escape the
crowded streets of San
Antonio and smelly air of Houston,
discovered Cain City. They caught the train to the Hill
Country and "summered" at the Mountain Home Hotel.
| Cain City's
Mountain Home Hotel
Courtesy Fredericksburg Standard
from the San Antonio Express July 1, 1922
in deck chairs on the breezy gallery where the air was sweet and
the scenery spectacular. The beautiful Pedernales Valley stretched
out before them like an Irene Klein painting, with the spires of
visible to the north.
For a time Cain City thrived. In its second year of existence, the
town shipped 300 train cars filled with produce worth half a million
But its glory days were brief. By 1920 automobiles and improved
roads gave Cain City consumers quick and easy access to Fredericksburg
with bigger stores and a greater variety of goods and services.
As business slowly evaporated, Cain City was caught in an unfavorable
economic cycle, and the drop in business and population became a
steady and irreversible trend.
Joseph Stinson saw the signs. In 1922 he sold out, moved back to
San Antonio, and
went into the real estate business.
Dwindling deposits caused the bank to close on January 11, 1927.
The main highway from Fredericksburg
to San Antonio was
rerouted through Comfort,
ending the shortcut through Cain City. The Great Depression hit
like a Joe Louis right hand. The general store caught fire on December
4, 1929. There was no city fire department to save it. The railroad,
never profitable, went out of business in 1942, leaving Cain City
high and dry.
By 1950 Cain City was a place on a map, but the town no longer existed.
showing Cain City, Texas (in southern Gillespie
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
Fredericksburg Standard, May 9, 1946, "Founding
of Cain City Came With Railroad in 1913," p7.
Fredericksburg Standard, April 9, 1919, "Cain City," p5. c1.
Kerrville Daily Times, January 9, 1988, p3.