Monday, August 29, 2011

Calling all history detectives -- again!

Several weeks ago I wrote about "historical remnants," a term I made up myself for a stationary object one could walk right by and not realize it had any historical significance.  I gave several examples, including an old fencepost on Clay Street, a wooden post from the old mill dam that once stood below downtown Kerrville, even the Spring Street street sign.
In that column I also asked for suggestions from readers for other "historical remnants," and I'm glad to say I've gotten several so far.
Several readers mentioned the old electric line crossbar and insulators nailed to a cypress tree just downstream from the Francisco Lemos street bridge.  About halfway across the river, where a small island separates two channels of the Guadalupe River, you can see the old crossbar in the tree.  It's even easier to see from the new bridge, since it's higher than the old bridge.  I have always assumed that tree served as the electric pole for service to what became the Kerrville State Hospital.
Power line crossbar in cypress tree
Before it was a state hospital though, it was the site of several other institutions.  I think it started out life as "My Ranch," a sort of dude ranch.  Later it was the Thompson Sanatorium, which served as a regional hospital for the treatment of tuberculosis.  Later it was a state sanatorium serving black patients, and later still it became the Kerrville State Hospital.
If you look down below the bridge, and in a line with the old electric line, you'll see another historical remnant: a bridge completed just before the big 1932 flood.  My long-time friend Rachel Whitton pointed out the ruins of that bridge to me.  The 1932 flood completely destroyed it and it wasn't rebuilt until after World War II.  I'm sure the community just south of the river there was disappointed, having waited a long time for a bridge only to lose it so soon after its construction. The large bridge -- the Sidney Baker Bridge -- wasn't completed for several more years.
Damaged plaque, Charles Schreiner Bridge
Speaking of the Sidney Baker Bridge, most people don't notice the little plaque near the town side of the bridge, another "historical remnant," but it was noticed my friend Joseph Luther. It's a broken plaque reading "Dedicated to Captain Charles Schreiner, a pioneer in citizenship, philanthropy, and highway building in the hill country."  The plaque originally hung on the old two-lane bridge with the overhead trusses, and was broken when it was removed to be placed on the current bridge.  I suppose, from this 1930s-era plaque, the bridge should be called the Captain Charles Schreiner Bridge.
Another long-time friend, Mark Mosty, reminded me about the Knapp Road bridge which is now submerged by the lake behind the water-treatment dam.  If you're at Chili's restaurant and notice the little boat ramp going into the river, you might not realize that ramp continues under the water and leads to the old bridge.  There was a Dr. Knapp long ago (who, coincidentally, delivered my friend Mark), and I think this road led to his house.
If you find any more "historical remnants," please let me know about them.  Drop me a letter here at the newspaper, 429 Jefferson Street, Kerrville.
Until next week, all the best. 
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who likes to amble in Old Town Kerrville.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times August 27, 2011


  1. Since we consider bridge remains, how about L A Schreiner's bridge to his home, now G Street. This bridge has remnants on both sides of the river just down from the rebuilt (a couple of times) "old" G Street bridge. L A Schreiner's original bridge also served as a small dam backing up to form the deeper water for City Lake (?). Also there are remnants of Gus Schreiner's bridge that you discovered some time back. This bridge was located across from Glen Rest and was Mr. Gus's access to his home now Riverhill Country Club. Both of these bridges were washed out in 1932. Gus's was not rebuilt but L A's was after given over to the County. Was the maintenance of these bridges and roads formation of the Schreiner Road and Bridge Fund? My impression is that it was.

  2. I believe Dr. Knapp's house was partially underground or at least "burmed". I visited there a time or two as I knew his daughter. At the time, I had never seen a house like that.

  3. I know of one other item that may be considered a remnant.

    If you stand on the observation point, that was constructed above the old red brick building at the ice house, you can see something of interest.

    While facing the river, turn to your right and look to the right of the old building.

    In the brush you will see a concrete device that has a "U" shaped top.

    When the ice plant was in operation, the ice vaults were kept cold by liquid ammonia gas being pumped through a network of pipes.

    In the "engine room" were the pumps that forced the gas through the pipes. The pumps were turned/operated by electric motors, but the motors were not directly connected to the pumps.

    Instead, there were very long and very wide conveyor belts rotating around the electric motor pulleys and the compression-pump pulleys.

    The pump's pulley rested on the large concrete device that is now resting to the right side of the observation point.

    The pulleys may or may not have been utilized before the electric motors were put into operation. If they were, then they would have somehow been connected to the horizontal water wheel that powered the grist mill. This particular question I cannot answer.


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