Mount Alamo -
The City That Never Was
Alamo was designed to be a model city and a grand resort high in
the Guadalupe Mountains. When completed it would rival the resorts
of the Adirondacks of New York and the Rockies of Colorado. Promoters
called Mount Alamo the Saratoga of Texas - after Saratoga Springs.
As soon as engineers plotted the route for a railroad through the
dreamers and schemers began laying plans to build resort towns in
the scenic hills along the way. In 1913, as preliminary work began
on the railroad between Waring and Fredericksburg,
a group of businessmen, many from San
Antonio, focused on a spectacular piece of real estate, 56 miles
north of the Alamo city, adjacent to the "big hill," near the Gillespie
and Kendall County
Investors formed the Mountain Townsite Company and began raising
money to make their dream come true. Because they hoped to sell
summer homes to prosperous San
Antonio families, they called their resort Mount Alamo.
showing Mt. Alamo
Courtesy Texas Transportation Museum, Hugh Hemphill, Director.
The plan to
build the resort began with colorful stories planted in major Texas
newspapers. The stories accurately described the 1,500 acre site
as one of the most beautiful places on earth. It was a mountain
paradise with a commanding view of the Hill
Country. It was 2,300 feet above sea level, reported to be the
highest point in the Guadalupe range, and 600 feet above the valley
floor. The site was 500 feet higher than Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga
and as picturesque as the Cumberlands in Tennessee.
The beauty of Mount Alamo was obvious to anyone who saw it, but
other claims were a little hard to swallow. Mount Alamo, promoters
alleged, had a naturally delightful climate. The air stayed cool
all summer long. Bacteria could not live in the altitude of Mount
Alamo. Even insects could not survive in the cool mountain air.
An article in The San Antonio Light described Mount Alamo
as a fantasy land from Greek mythology. "Garbed in rustic beauty,
it is an enchanted spot. On its summit is a fountain of pure water,
coming as if directed by the will of the Creator. It forms a natural
reservoir that is not unlike the fabled Parnassus where Apollo located
after searching the world for a place of perpetual youth and where
he and the 9 muses dwelt eternal."
Officials of the Mountain Townsite Company, hoping to attract investors,
organized automobile trips to from San
Antonio to Mount Alamo. After the railroad to Fredericksburg
was completed, special excursions brought in potential homebuyers
by the trainload.
As investors came on board, and lots began to sell, specific plans
for Mount Alamo took shape. The nucleus of the resort was to be
an 18-hole golf course covering 100 acres. At the center of the
golf course would be a luxurious 80-room clubhouse for renters and
weekenders- each room with a private bath and a screened in sleeping
Developers promised a town with "all the modern conveniences." There
would be a waterworks system, a sewage system and an electric plant.
These modern systems would be constructed while carefully preserving
the natural charm of the countryside.
Everything about Mount Alamo would be built to a grand scale. The
narrowest streets would be at least 80 feet wide. Some streets would
be 150 feet wide. The main street, Berlin Boulevard, would be 200
feet wide with a 100 feet parkway in the middle.
County 1920s map (from Texas state map #10749) showing Mt. Alamo
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
But as in any
ambitious project, dreaming is easy. Making dreams come true is
hard, dirty work and requires a different set of skills. For Mount
Alamo to succeed, the dreamers had to step aside and the doers had
to take control. But that never happened.
Some streets were laid out and a little dirt moved. Other than that,
Mount Alamo never got off the ground.
As columnist Charley
Eckhardt wrote in 1994, "Nothing, today, is left of Mount Alamo
except the bare rocks of the hilltop and the cedar and live oaks
that grow there."
© Michael Barr
15 , 2017 Column
"Dexter Writing History of Texas' Banks Growth," Galveston Daily
News, October 30, 1913.
"'Beauty Spots,' make Gillespie County Famous," The San Antonio
Light, November 16, 1913.
"Pleasure Resort Will Be Built in Scenic Guadalupe Mountains," The
San Antonio Light, August 31, 1913.
"With Some Doing, Fredericksburg Had Railroad in 1913," The Seguin
Gazette-Enterprise, January 6, 1994.