Rocks, Gems and Minerals
in the Texas Hill Country
Hunting - The Granite
Highlands of Llano and Burnet Counties cover about three thousand square miles.
Located in Llano County, Enchanted Rock [ photo above] is the second largest grainte dome
in the U.S. About one square mile in area, the main dome is, like the tip of an
iceburg, the exposed portion of the Enchanted Rock Batholith which is over one hundred
square miles in area and is the hard core around which the land mass of Texas
formed. Over one billion years old, this is some of the oldest rock on earth.
This area is also known as the Central Mineral Region of
Texas. The abundance and diversity of minerals in this area are unequaled in the state.
Rock hunters often search below the dam for rocks and minerals such as quartz, granite,
gneiss, flint, schist, feldspar and limestone.
Abovet: Map indicating the Llanite deposits (dark areas inside
dashed line). Public access is available on the Right-of-way near Babyhead Mountain
opn Hwy 16. (Map by Ira Kennedy)
FROM PANNING FOR TEXAS GOLD
by Ira Kennedy
...In the Central Mineral Region, legends and rumors of lost mines have been circulating
since the Spanish discovered silver on Riley Mountain near Llano back in 1756. Eventually
the rumors brought with them a tide of prospectors who braved the elements and the Indians
to find the fabled riches of gold and silver.
In 1838 the New York Mirror published an account of a
prospecting trip on the San Saba River that included mention of an "Enchanted"
or "Holy Mountain" near the headwaters of Sandy Creek. That same year, Comanche
Chief Buffalo Hump camped at Enchanted Rock with the White captive Ms. Webster and her two
children. After her escape two years later, she told of gold and silver mines, and
brilliant stones the Indians possessed that looked like diamonds. The 'diamonds' were
actually quartz crystals which were found in the area and were, for the Indians, sacred
objects. Mrs. Webster's stories simply confirmed what the Texans already believed: there
was gold and silver in the Texas hills.
While many adventurers left San Antonio in search of lost Spanish
mines, British diplomat William Kennedy visited San Antonio to mine the rich vein of tales
regarding the mysterious frontier. Kennedy's book, Texas: the Rise, Progress, and
Prospects of the Republic of Texas, published in 1841, was so well received in Germany
it became the catalyst that shaped the destiny of the Texas frontier. In his book, Kennedy
retold the rumors of lost gold and silver mines. Although he noted he was relying on local
lore, in print the stories carried the weight of fact.
Back around the turn of the century a newspaper article was
published in San Antonio which was typical of the many legends of lost mines in the area
of Llano and San Saba Counties. According to the article D.F. Brooks, "says he has
discovered on Riley Mountain, west of the Packsaddle group in Llano County, an old Mexican
or Mormon gold mine, and the remains of an old smelter a half mile west of Honey Creek and
three miles west of the Packsaddle Mountains. The ledge, he says, is a true fissure,
forty-five or fifty feet deep. The mine has a six-foot entrance, and both the foot and
hanging walls are "pockety". In the center an eighteen inch pay streak of
decomposed sugar quartz is yellow as gold itself."