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"Hindsights"

Looking back at:

Pontiac Climbs Enchanted Rock

By Michael Barr
Michael Barr

From a distance the Pontiac "big six" 2-door sedan crawling slowly up the bald granite face of Enchanted Rock, looked like a gnat on an ice cream cone. The vehicle made several stops on its way to the summit, not because of any problems, but to give photographers a chance to snap a few black and white glossies of the famous climb.

On Saturday, June 22, 1929, Enchanted Rock opened as a tourist resort called Enchanted Rock Park. Management wanted to host a spectacular event to publicize the opening. Having a car climb Enchanted Rock seemed like a great way to attract attention and draw a crowd.

Hildon Bradshaw of Llano drove the car. Skeptics believed the local Pontiac dealer installed special gears and safety equipment in the car, but The Llano News reported that such statements "are without any foundation."

"This is a regular stock car," the newspaper stated, "carrying the same motor and other equipment found in all Pontiacs and is the same car in which Mr. Bradshaw made his one hundred hour non-stop drive some few weeks ago. The car carried absolutely no special gearing." Apparently it came right off the showroom floor.

The driver had confidence in his machinery. "He felt no uneasiness in attempting the climb," The Llano News reported. "He knew what his car could do and felt sure it would make the round trip without a bobble, all of which it did."


Bradshaw drove the car to the foot of the Rock at 2 pm that Saturday afternoon. After a pause for dramatic effect he shifted the car into low gear, gunned the engine and started up.

Tate Moss, owner of Enchanted Rock, wanted a good seat for the show. He rode along on the front fender, his feet resting on the bumper, holding tightly to a chrome bust of Chief Pontiac that served as the radiator cap.

The event attracted a big crowd. The San Antonio Light estimated the gathering at 4,000. Some of the spectators followed the car on foot from a safe distance. The rest watched from the shade trees along Sandy Creek.

Although the stunt came off without a hitch, there were a few anxious moments along the way. The San Antonio Light reported that "at times the driver was forced to place four running board passengers on the high side of his Pontiac when the sharp angle of the rough trail threatened to overturn the car." At one point the vehicle crawled along a ledge less than 3 ft. from a 100 ft. cliff.

The vehicle made several planned stops on the way up so photographers could take pictures and the MGM Newsreel Service could film the climb. Movie theaters showed the film to audiences around the country.

Many of the spectators that day had never been to Enchanted Rock. One cameraman, a first-time visitor, described the view from the windy summit as "like sitting on top of the world."

After spending some time enjoying the view, the Pontiac started back down. At the bottom driver Bradshaw splashed across Sandy Creek and stopped next to several one-room cottages, a spacious new dance pavilion and a 100 ft. long ranch-style barbecue pit.

"Here's where we feed the 4,000," Tate Moss joked.


Since that first climb back in 1929, at least one other vehicle has scaled Enchanted Rock. On May 21, 1964 Clinton Fiedler of Fredericksburg drove a GMC 4 wheel drive V6 pickup to the summit.

Five brave passengers went along that day including Leola Behrend of Behrend Garage, K. L. Reynolds - District Manager of GMC Truck Division of San Angelo, Francis Markle of the Fredericksburg Radio Post, Art Kowert of the Fredericksburg Standard and local Humble dealer Gilbert Kaderli who supplied the gasoline.

It is interesting that while both climbs demonstrated the power of modern technology, they also affirmed the idea that there are places where modern technology doesn't belong. Several witnesses noted that an automobile looked intrusive and out of place on the timeless granite mountain, and that in the future Enchanted Rock should be limited to pedestrian traffic.

Michael Barr
"Hindsights" September 18, 2023

Related Articles:

  • The Sermon on the Rock by Michael Barr

  • A Couch Potato's Guide to Climbing Enchanted Rock by Michael Barr

  • Enchanted Rock by Clint Skinner

  • Enchanted Rock Haunted History cartoon by Roger T. Moore

  • "Hindsights" by Michael Barr

  • LBJ's Cousin Oreole 9-1-23
  • The Sermon on the Rock 8-15-23
  • Lady Bird's Gift to St. Barnabas Church 8-5-23
  • The Girl Scout Cabin 7-15-23
  • News from 1919 7-1-23

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