Tag Archives: Small Towns

‘Going To School’ In Texas

Cherry Mountain School. Driving tour of 12 historic country schoolhouses in Gillespie County, Texas

After one day in Fredericksburg, Kathy & I decided we had seen enough cowboy art and turquoise jewelry, the wineries were busy and charged more for tastings than for a bottle of wine, so we stopped by the visitor center to see what else we might do. The woman there mentioned a driving tour of one room school houses in Gillespie County, the area surrounding Fredericksburg.

Pecan Creek School House
Cherry Spring Schoolhouse
Outhouse at Cherry Spring Schoolhouse
St. John Lutheran Church, next to Crabapple School
Crabapple School

Better than I can tell it, here is a bit of history about the schools from The Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools:

As many as 44 rural schools were in operation around Fredericksburg, the county seat of Gillespie County, in the early 20th century. German immigrants had poured into the area that became known as the Texas Hill Country in the mid to late 1800โ€™s, starting with the settlement of New Braunfels in 1845 and Fredericksburg in 1846. As families moved onto land more distant from town, the earliest rural educational efforts normally involved hiring a teacher to educate the children in private
homes.

Eventually land was donated by a family in the area and a community school was built taking names descriptive of nearby natural landmarks such as Cave Creek, Crabapple, Pecan Creek or Lower South Grape Creek. The German heritage of Gillespie County is evident in other names like Luckenbach, Meusebach, Rheingold and Nebgen.

The Gilmer-Aikin Law of 1949 resulted in the consolidation of most rural schools in Texas, bringing a close to this era of public education. Remarkably, the main buildings at only two of the 44 rural schools in Gillespie County were demolished over the decades. In the 1950โ€™s, community clubs were organized and maintained some of the rural school properties in Gillespie County using their own funds, even though they were owned by the Fredericksburg Independent School District (FISD).

Short histories of the schools can be obtained at the Visitor Information Center in Fredericksburg, located at 302 East Austin Street, at each school and on our website: www.historicschools.org

Rheingold School
Rheingold School
‘Modern Facilities’ at Rheingold School
‘Not So Modern Facilities’ at Rheingold School
Willow City Schoolhouse

The tour resulted in a very nice day, and quite a collection of interesting, albeit very documentary, photographs. It’s ultimately the way we prefer to spend our time, rather than trudging up and down the main street in a town, wandering through shops with no intention or interest in buying. When there is a bakery or ice cream shop, however…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Nebgen School
Cave Creek School
Cave Creek School

We’re off to Ohio in a few days in hopes of catching the eclipse. I do plan to take some pictures, but not of the eclipse. I just want to watch it myself and let those with the patience and proper equipment make photos I can see later. I do hope to get lots of pictures of people wearing those awesome glasses, though! ๐Ÿ™‚

A Stop In Fredericksburg, Texas

Former Buick dealership now a winery. Fredericksburg, Texas

After our stop in Shiner we arrived in Fredericksburg, where we stayed for a few days before heading east toward Florida. The draw for Fredericksburg is that it is in the heart of Texas wine country. We drove through Fredericksburg on a previous trip but only spent one night. Ironically, despite being in the middle of wine country we didn’t visit any wineries! We did manage to drink a bit of Texas wine, did a little shopping and some sightseeing.

Fredericksburg, Texas
Fredericksburg, Texas
Fredericksburg, Texas
Fredericksburg, Texas

I was really taken with the public library. Housed in the former Gillespie County Courthouse that was built in 1881-1882 and used until 1939, the building was subsequently converted to the current use as the library. The limestone exterior, high ceilings and wooden trim are a reminder of the days of fine craftsmanship. The library even has a card catalog, although the drawers are empty now.

Public Library in Fredericksburg, Texas
Public Library in Fredericksburg, Texas
Public Library in Fredericksburg, Texas
Who knows what this is? Public Library in Fredericksburg, Texas
Public Library in Fredericksburg, Texas
Public Library in Fredericksburg, Texas

The town of Fredericksburg is like a lot of small towns these days, just with a Texas twist. Instead of antiques and country crafts there is cowboy art and turquoise jewelry. Lots of interesting restaurants, though. We had several really nice meals during our stay.

The Hangar Hotel in Fredericksburg, Texas
The Hangar Hotel in Fredericksburg, Texas

We stayed in a really cool hotel located at the Gillespie County Airport. Named the Hangar Hotel, it is styled after a WWI aircraft hanger, complete with an Officer’s Club, the name of the lounge. It was fun watching all the planes coming and going, and made for some interesting photography.

Bachelorette party. Vaudeville Restaurant in Fredericksburg, Texas

Along The Way: Shiner Texas

K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas

On our journey across Texas we made a quick stop in Shiner, Texas to visit the K. Spoetzl Brewery, home of Shiner Beer. We had some gen-u-ine Texas brisket, toured the brewery and had some Shiner Beer before heading off into wine country.

K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
Texas BBQ at the K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
Texas BBQ at the K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas

The Spoetzl Brewery started in 1909. It was originally named The Shiner Brewing Association (SBA) and was founded by German and Czech immigrants who had settled around the central Texas town of Shiner. Unable to find the type of beer they had known in their home countries, they decided to brew their own. It is the oldest independent brewery in Texas and one of the oldest independent breweries in the U.S.

K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas

In the 1970s and 1980s, the brewery’s Shiner Premium Beer and Shiner Bock accounted for less than 1% of the Texas beer market. In 1983, Spoetzl produced 60,000 US beer barrels of beer; in 1990, only 36,000 US beer barrels. Sales improved after Carlos Alvarez of San Antonio acquired the brewery in 1989. Production grew to 100,000 US beer barrels in 1994, and over the next 10 years production nearly tripled. The company now has 120 employees and as of 2012 it was the fourth-largest craft brewery in the United States.

Tap Room at the K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
Tap Room at the K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
1959 Ford F-100 pickup at K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas

It was a good visit, and some of the Amber Bock even made it home for us to share with our friends, neighbors and family! ๐Ÿ˜‰

K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas
K. Spoetzl Brewery & Distillery in Shiner, Texas

Along The Way: Columbus, Georgia

Eagle and Phenix Mill in Columbus, Georgia

We made an overnight stop in Columbus, GA, a former mill town on the Chattahoochee River along the border with Alabama. The Eagle & Phenix Mills Buildings have been converted into apartments and condominiums, and much of the downtown area has become a dining and entertainment area.

Eagle and Phenix Mill in Columbus, Georgia
Eagle and Phenix Mill in Columbus, Georgia
Eagle and Phenix Mill in Columbus, Georgia
Eagle and Phenix Mill in Columbus, Georgia
Eagle and Phenix Mill in Columbus, Georgia

We spent only a brief amount of time in Columbus, but on the morning of our departure I managed to do a little photography on the way to and from breakfast.

Along the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia
Along the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia
Machinery in a former power plant along the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia
Machinery in a former power plant along the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia
Machinery in a former power plant along the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia
Eagle and Phenix Mill in Columbus, Georgia

Postcard From Passau, Germany

Alleyway with colorful cobblestones marking the way to artists’ studios. Passau, Germany

One of the notable features of Passau is the many narrow alleyways, with cobblestones painted to direct visitors to artists’ studios. Many of the shops were closed at the time of our visit due to the artists being on holiday, but the alleys themselves were interesting to explore.

Taking Jim’s Picture

Triangular. Abandoned train trestle supports in Staunton, Virginia

A few weekends ago, Kathy & I visited Staunton, VA to meet up with our friends Jim & Lisa, who drove down from Pennsylvania. We like to find interesting towns to visit for a few days when we have a chance to meet up. Last summer we met in Lewisburg, WV, and we’re planning a trip to Kentucky for later this year.

Staunton (pronounced STON-ton) is a pleasant and vibrant town located along I-81 just north of Roanoke and is about halfway between Jim & Lisa’s home in Pennsylvania and our home in Charlotte. In addition to a nice downtown with good restaurants and interesting shops, Staunton is home to the American Shakespeare Center, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Mary Baldwin University. Oh, and the Camera Heritage Museum.

We spent a few days walking around the town, saw a play at American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse, had some good meals and visited some interesting shops. We were there on St. Patrick’s Day and enjoyed a dinner at a restaurant with a live Celtic band.

Triangular. Abandoned train trestle supports in Staunton, Virginia

One afternoon we were walking around town, and at some point came across these old railroad trestle supports. I don’t remember the words, but Jim asked me if I thought they would make a good photograph. I had seen them but hadn’t responded to them yet, so Jim’s question woke me up. Yes, they were quite interesting, and as it turned out I was able to make a few photographs that prove the point.

Just like with the photos of Bill’s tree in my last post, sometimes it is someone else’s eyes that discover the photo, and my job is to do somethingย  with it. Looks like I may have to make another print! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Triangular. Abandoned train trestle supports in Staunton, Virginia