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PHOTO BY IRA KENNEDY

 

Rocks, Gems and Minerals
in the Texas Hill Country

 

LlaniteMap2.jpg (28338 bytes)Rock 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."

 

 

 

 

 

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Website and Photos by Ira Kennedy