was just a small county seat town barely three generations removed from its founding
by German immigrants when civic leaders first began to understand the importance
In the early 1920s, during the administration of Gov. Pat
Neff, the Legislature created a state park commission and funded Texas’
first state park. Thinking that having a state park would be a good thing for
community members raised money to buy a tract of land with the intention of donating
it to the state for park development and operation.
at that time was beginning to come into the limelight as a mecca for tourists,”
noted a booklet compiled by Fredericksburg Publishing Co. in 1928 called “Most
Important Happenings in Gillespie County during 1927.”
While not the snappiest
title to ever grace a publication, the booklet is a snapshot of the community
at the height of the so-called Roaring Twenties, a decadent decade (at least compared
with the one before it and the one that would follow) about to end with a calamitous
stock market crash.
The first two-thirds of the booklet are devoted to a month-by-month summary of
significant local news like silver wedding anniversaries, the rare accidental
death, weather extremes, sports news, and other events. In May 1927, for instance,
Walmar Hohmann got more than 10 pounds of wool from a yearling goat and sold it
for 70 cents a pound and the Stein & Metzger Creamery began operation.
rest of the publication is devoted to what amounts to a Chamber of Commerce report.
In fact, the booklet notes that the chamber had been organized that year with
225 members and a total budget of $4,750.
According to the organization’s
lists of goals, the chamber hoped Fredericksburg
would gain another railroad line (never happened), intended to help the volunteer
“fire boys” find a new home, planned to push for better highways and “Get more
publicity for our town and more tourists to visit Fredericksburg.”
To that end, the booklet devotes more than a page to what was called the Fredericksburg
Tourist Park. While the park had been started under the assumption the state would
take it over, when the legislature did not appropriate any money for it, “the
people of Fredericksburg
immediately got busy and organized an association, giving each donor a share of
stock for each $5 subscribed.” By the time “Most Important Happenings in Gillespie
County” came out, the park had some 150 share holders and a board of directors.
Located 1.25 miles from town off Highway 9 (modern U.S. 87), the park
covered 34 acres dotted with oaks and pecans. In addition, a man identified only
as L. Vorauer of the Fredericksburg Nursery donated 30 cottonwood trees in February
1927. The booklet did not say what direction the park was from downtown, but reading
between the lines, a good guess would be that it lay near the old fair grounds
since Baron’s Creek ran through it.
Park amenities included “two wells,
tank, shower baths, 12 neat and up-to-date camp cottages, with and without garages,
a nine-hole golf course, concrete swimming pool, 60 by 110 foot caretaker office,
electric lights, campsites with tables, benches, cooking grates, etc.” The swimming
pool had been excavated in April 1927 and was open in time for summer.
Fredericksburg Park and Golf Association kept two caretakers on the payroll that
first summer, one to oversee the park, the other to operate the swimming pool.
Visitors paid 50 cents a day for a campsite, $1 for a cabin and $1.25 for a cabin
with a garage. Firewood, water, baths and electricity were furnished “without
Those wishing to play golf had to pay a 25 cent green
fee, though association members could get nine holes in at a rate based on the
amount of shares they held. For the younger set, the park also had swings and
According to the 1928 booklet, the park had already
been visited by thousands of people, “all of whom are unstinted in their praise
for the way the park is kept and the accommodations which it offers.”
park made it through the worst days of the Depression. An ad in the San Antonio
Express in June 1935 notes it was under new management and offered “comfortable
furnished cabins, swimming pool, fishing, dancing, restaurant, [and] beautiful
scenery.” An article in the San Antonio Light two years later, a decade
after the locally run facility had begun operation, noted the park then had 20
cabins, including some with screened sleeping porches. By then the park also had
a refreshment stand that sold “beer, ice cream, tobacco, candles, etc.”
A web site with thousands of digitized, searchable back issues of U.S. newspapers
shows no further mention of the Fredericksburg Tourist Park after 1937. And typing
the words “Fredericksburg Tourist Park” into the world’s most powerful search
engine produces nothing about the park. What an internet search does show is that
has no shortage of amenities for tourists, including two nearby state parks.
Mike Cox - May
10, 2012 column
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