intothemodern.jpg (35711 bytes)


littlerock.jpg (189499 bytes)

As the twentieth century approached Enchanted Rock was becoming a recreational destination. The Moss family was instrumental in closing the chapter of the old ways and the opening of the new.

Discovery of gold in California in 1849 precipitated a rush of emigrants seeking their fortune. Fredericksburg became the last supply stop for the forty niners until they reached Hueco Tanks located near El Paso. A member of one of the wagon trains, C. C. Cox, was assigned to hunt game for the group. Upon reaching Enchanted Rock, though not mentioning it by name, he said it was a granite hill some "two hundred feet high". Cox noticed a hollow sound beneath the granite caused by his horse’s hooves. "The surface of the mound had the appearance of petrified sand," and Cox attempted to break through into what he imagined would be a large cavern beneath. He finally abandoned the task once he realized there was no cave, but only a small hollow hear the surface.

Special mention should be made of an individual who was most likely Enchanted Rock’s most permanent resident. Rafe Maner, an emancipated slave was born in a log cabin between the base of the Rock and Sandy Creek in 1850. He lived in the cabin until his death in 1920. The cabin was later moved across the creek where, some years later his birthplace was demolished.

The last recorded conflict between Indians and whites in the Hill Country occurred in 1873. Known as the Fight on Packsaddle Mountain, it was precipitated when a cow on the Moss ranch (in what is now Llano County) came into the ranch house with an arrow sticking out of its side. A party of eight ranchers, including W. B. Moss and his two brothers, was raised to pursue the Indians. They found approximately twenty one Indians encamped on Packsaddle Mountain. In the ensuing fight at least three Indians, probably Apache, were killed and three of the ranchers wounded. So closed the last account of Indian warfare in the region. With the lands surveyed, and settlements springing all along the frontier, the Indian tribes were rapidly becoming a relic of the past. Many of these settlers found their fortunes not in gold, but cattle.

In October of 1841, Anavato Martinez sold his headright certificate, which included Enchanted Rock, to James Robinson, who held title of the property for three years before selling it to a business associate, Samuel A. Maverick. The term maverick comes from this man. As stray cattle were plentiful in Texas, Maverick refused to brand his cattle. Consequently, any unbranded cattle were said to be Maverick’s. The term was later expanded to include any person who acts independently.

Maverick really wasn’t a cattleman, but an entrepreneur, essentially, who bought Enchanted Rock, speculating on its potential for mineral wealth. When Maverick’s widow sold the property around 1880 to N. P. P. Browne, she retained all the mineral rights. In 1886, Enchanted Rock was purchased by John R. Moss, who sold it in less than a year to J. D. Slaytor, and C. T. and A. F. Moss. In 1896 the Moss family bought out Slator’s interest, which was inherited by Tate Moss in 1927. Albert Faltin purchased Enchanted Rock in 1946, selling an undivided half interest to Charles H. Moss the following year. For decades afterward the Moss family continued the tradition of operating Enchanted Rock as a private park.

As the twentieth century approached Enchanted Rock was becoming a recreational destination. The Moss family is central to the closing chapter of the old ways and the opening of the new.

Although ownership of Enchanted Rock changed hands frequently, a constant throughout the twentieth century has been its use as parkland. At the outset of this century Enchanted Rock was frequently open to the public for picnics, dances, parties, and numerous other events, including religious services held on its summit by the Reverend Dan Moore ("On this rock I will build my church.").

Enchanted Rock officially opened to the general public as a privately operated park on June 22, 1927. The event was celebrated by thousands of visitors, including Governor Dan Moody, who dedicated Enchanted Rock as "Texas most wonderful summer resort." The highlight of the day, however, occurred when a celebrant named Bradshaw drove his brand new Pontiac to the summit. This was not the only roadtrip up Enchanted Rock. A local Chevrolet dealer in Llano occasionally used the massive dome to demonstrate the performance of his autos.

Finally, in 1978 the Moss family decided to sell Enchanted Rock and diverse offers came in—from granite quarry operations to a Dallas developer who planned to build high dollar townhouses. Another offer came from Lincoln Borglum who proposed using Enchanted Rock to sculpt a monument in honor of Texas heros in the spirit of Stone Mountian with its Confederate heros, or to Mr. Rushmore. Lincoln, the son of Gutzon Borglum who designed Mt. Rushmore, is credited for completing his fathers work.. It is to the everlasting credit of Charles and Ruth Moss that they decided to reject those offers in favor of an offer from the Nature Conservancy in 1978. That organization held title for Enchanted Rock until the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department could allocate funds to purchase the tract a month later. Enchanted Rock was accepted on the National Registry of Archaeological Sites on August 24, 1984.

So it was that this ancient sacred landmark became one of the state’s most remarkable natural & cultural treasures, attracting over 350,000 visitors annually.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is located 16 miles north of Fredericksburg on Ranch Road 965. From Llano take Texas 16 South 16 miles, turn right on Ranch road 965. Enchanted Rock is 8 miles to the south.

Opened year round, the park offers 46 tent sites for overnight campers with tentpads, picnic tables, overhead shelters, barbecue pits, and fire rings. An attractive playground and modern restroom facilities complete with solar-heated showers are available to walk-in campers.

For adverturesome back packers, the park has three remote camping areas and each of the remote areas is equipped with composting toilets.

There are 63 picnic tables, a playground and restrooms located in the area provided for day visitors. Campers should make reservations two to three months in advance. If you can’t get a reservation at the park, camping is available nearby at Crabapple Crossing (915-247-4260). Day visitors should arrive early—before noon—as the park frequently fills up and parking is unavailable until after 4:30 or 5 p.m. For more information phone 915-247-3903



  PART 8:

(c) 1999   Ira Kennedy   All rights reserved