map showing Bankersmith (near Gillespie County Line)|
& nearby Fredericksburg
Courtesy Texas General
History in a Pecan
history began with the arrival of the San
Antonio, Fredericksburg and Northern Railroad in 1913. The route was between
Fredericksburg and Comfort
and the uneven terrain necessitated a tunnel
– one of two in the state.
The unusual name was for Temple D. Smith, who
was indeed a banker. As president of Fredericksburg’s
first bank, Mr. Smith knew the opportunities that a railroad
offered and became an ardent supporter (and financier).
The town received
a post office in 1914, but it was sometimes unclear in which county it was listed.
Depending on the abode of the postmaster, it was sometimes in Kendall County and
sometimes in Gillespie.
Bankersmith reached its apex in the 1920s when it had a population nearing 50
people. By 1930 the number of residents had fallen to a mere 10 residents. Five
years later the railroad had gone broke and the post office closed its doors in
people left in search of better-paying work and the number of residents fell to
only 20 people. The most noteworthy feature around Bankersmith is the old
railroad tunnel – a man-made sanctuary for thousands of bats.
the Old Railroad TunnelFrom
Fredericksburg & Northern Railroad by C.
"Today, if you follow FM 1376 from San
Antonio to Sisterdale, then take FM 473
west and go beyond the road to Waring, you'll find
where an old but still paved road forms (or used to form) a T intersection with
473. If you turn north and follow the road and the bed of Black Creek, you will
be paralleling the route of the F&N, and just about the time you reach the ghost
town of Hillingdon you'll see, crossing the creek, the remains of the F&N's longest
trestle. Just north of that the road crosses almost directly over the top of it
and there is an historical marker you'll find the hill country's only railroad
The tunnel is still there, all 920 feet of it inhabited, in
the fall, winter, and spring, by millions of bats. The bat flight from the tunnel
at dusk resembles rising smoke. During late spring, summer, and early fall, it's
home to more rattlesnakes than you'll ever want to meet in one place again."
The light at the end of the tunnel...and about a million bats!|
Jeanson, November 2007