a Pecan Shell
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 the 1940s.
After WWII 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.
Traffic Jam in Bankersmith 8-15-20
by Michael Barr
"... For 50 years Bankersmith was a ghost town.
Then in 2013 Austin businessman Doug Guller saw Bankersmith for sale
on Craigslist. He bought it hoping to turn the place into a tourist
destination. Guller remodeled some rustic buildings and renamed the
town Bikinis, Texas after his sports bar and restaurant chain."
Smith by Michael Barr
"Banker Smith is best remembered as the driving force behind
the Fredericksburg Railroad. He spent years of his life and a considerable
part of his wealth, bringing the railroad to town.
The railroad honored Banker Smith by naming a stop after him. The
town of Bankersmith... once had a depot, post office, store, lumberyard,
garage and dancehall." Read
to the Old Railroad Tunnel
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 tunnel.
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."
light at the end of the tunnel...
and about a million bats!"
Jeanson, November 2007
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