Roadtrip: Little Blanco Road

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by Kristy Watson

Take a Sunday drive down a beautiful little one-lane country road.
You will cross the water several times and there are numerous cattle guards keeping in the livestock that you may see crossing the road.

Start your journey at the old Bergheim General Store (Soon to be the Bergheim Meat Market) at the crossroads of Hwy 46 and 3351. Drive north on 3351 to Kendalia. At Kendalia, turn right on 473 for a few hundred feet, just past Edge Falls Road, then turn left, going north, onto Crabapple Rd (Hwy 104). You’ll see the Kendalia Library and Community Center at the corner. The Kendalia store a little further west on 473 is a good place to buy snacks. They will even make you a hot sandwich, but you won’t find gas there, so fill up in Bergheim first.

 

About two miles north on Crabapple Road turn right heading east onto Old Blanco Rd (Hwy 102). This is a confusing intersection, so just remember to keep to the the right. About two miles up Old Blanco Road, you will find Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation (WRR). WRR is not open to the public and the animals are never placed on exhibit. You can however, get a glimpse of some of the exotics and domestic animals being cared for as you drive by. WRR provides permanent care for non-indigenous wild animals who have been victimized by the exotic pet trade, rescued from roadside zoos, or retired from research facilities. Indigenous wild animals who are deemed-non releasable due to serious injury are also given permanent care at the sanctuary.

Take a right on Hwy 101 Little Blanco Road. You’ll cross a cattle guard right away and notice that the road is only a one lane width. This is where you roll the
windows down, because at 20 miles per hour, you’ll want to take in the scenery and the breeze.

You’ll notice an old German rock fence on your right. After the pioneers had built their cabins and cleared the land for farming, they found that farming was not an easy task in the rocky Hill Country. With the introduction of cattle to the area, the grass situation worsened. The cattle were eating the grass that had been holding the thin Hill Country’s soil in place. The bed rocks were the reality. It had taken many centuries to bury them but only a few years to reveal them. As the grass grew sparse, more rocks were exposed. The pioneer now had another problem to contend with—erosion. But even the rocks were put to good use. Fences were built of wood as late as 1859 with cedar the preferred material. Soon the Germans of the area began building fences of flat stones. Entire families labored for months or even years to build stone fences on their farms.

There is a tidy old homestead coming up on the right. You can see the old barns still in good working condition. Several rusty old implements are arranged in front of a cedar log corral. A little farther up the road you come across the first of the Holt compound. I stop for a picture by the Holt Oaks ranches belonging to Peter Holt and his family. Not only is Peter Holt known for his Spurs basketball team, but he also owns HoltCat and his great grandfather invented the Caterpillar tractor over 100 years ago. It was designed with track type wheels to go over the mucky soils of California.

You’ll notice an old red barn with a couple of interesting circular Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs. Traditionally, hex signs are painted on barns, stables and houses for protection against lightning, to ensure fertility and protect animal and human occupants alike from becoming ferhexed, or bewitched. Symbolism is revealed in these designs. Oak leaves: long life, strength and endurance. The scallops around the edges: Ocean waves for smooth sailing in life. The rain drop: water, crop abundance and fertility. The heart: true love, lasting love, and love for others. The Birds of Paradise: friendship, camaraderie, peace, purity and happiness. Two distelfinks (birds): double good luck and happiness. I find an old gas pump in the barn and notice that the gauge is stuck on 24 cents for a gallon. How nice that would be now!

The Little Blanco River rises twenty miles northeast of Boerne in eastern Kendall County and flows east for twenty-two miles, across Blanco, Comal, and Hays counties, to its mouth on the Blanco River. Along the streambeds the landscape has a “stair step” appearance due to limestone benches and steep slopes. The vegetation consists mainly of stands of live oak and Ashe juniper, with mesquite and grasses.

“The Little Blanco Road crosses the river 6 times.” That’s what a gentleman told me as he pulled up in his convertible. I didn’t need any help, like he thought, I was just taking pictures. Maybe he thought I was up to something – or maybe he was just trying to be friendly. I asked if he lived on this road and he said he did about three miles back. Anyway, I told him what a nice road it was and he replied, “not when it rains”. So, take this with a little grain of thought – if it is raining cats and dogs, don’t come down this road.

At the end of Little Blanco Road is Twin Sisters. Not really a town, but more of a community with a dance hall. It was named for a pair of prominent nearby hills, which form a landmark visible for miles around.

Little Blanco Road is probably worth driving back through again. My friend, Fred Adams, once said, “If you go the opposite direction, you will notice waterfalls by the cliffs that you won’t notice going the other way. So take this road in both directions if you have the time.”