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Sunday, December 30, 2018

The five most popular Kerr history columns of 2018

As 2018 ends, it's time to look back over the last 12 months to learn what readers enjoyed most.
While each column takes about the same amount of research and effort, some are more popular than others, as measured by page views on my blog, www.joeherringjr.com.
This year's top five most-viewed columns were viewed over 30,000 times, with the highest having almost 8,600 page views. I'm always surprised by these numbers, considering the column is about the history of one small town in the Texas hill country.
Here are the top five columns of 2018:
Bandera Pass photographed in 1905
Bandera Pass, 1905
Number Five: The fifth most popular column in 2018 was "A newly discovered photograph of Bandera Pass," published in February, 2018.
A kind reader brought by a box of old family photographs, and tucked in the box was a small photograph of the pass which was labeled 1905. While the photograph shows a gap in the hills which is familiar to travelers today, it lacks a paved highway. A pair of dusty wagon wheel tracks can be seen, jogging among the trees and shrubs.
Automobiles were not very common in our area until around 1908, and so the photograph shows the pass as it appeared for several hundred years, when the only vehicles rolling that way were wagons drawn by animals.
I have another very old photograph of Bandera Pass in my collection, but it's not dated, so I cannot tell which was taken first.
Charles Schreiner Bridge Kerrville Texas 1971
Charles Schreiner Bridge, Kerrville, 1971
Number Four: "A well-remembered bridge in Kerrville," which was published in March.
The bridge crossing the Guadalupe River in downtown Kerrville has several names. Most call it the Sidney Baker Street Bridge, but a small plaque at the southwest end of the bridge says it was "Dedicated to Captain Charles Schreiner: a pioneer in citizenship, philanthropy and highway building in the hill country." That plaque was placed on the bridge in 1935, back when the bridge was originally constructed as a steel truss bridge, with three large spans supported from above by steel.
That old bridge was distinctive and many locals remember it fondly. It was featured in many photographs from the era.
In the 1970s the bridge was widened from two to five lanes plus a pedestrian sidewalk, the steel structure was removed and replaced by pre-stressed concrete girders. In the process, the bridge went from 22 feet wide to 60 feet, and the improvements cost around $1.1 million. When construction was complete, the plaque from the old bridge was moved from the northeast end of the bridge to its present location on the opposite end.
Ice Plant Tunnel, Kerrville, 2018
Number Three: "At least one of the tunnels in downtown Kerrville," published in April.
There are persistent stories of tunnels in the downtown area of Kerrville. In at least one case, the stories are true.
At one time there was an Ice Plant in the 800 block of Water Street, on the river side of the intersection of Water and Washington Streets. Parts of the old plant still exist, and beneath the driveway of One Schreiner Center a tunnel and subterranean room can be found.
Ed Hamilton was kind enough to share photographs taken during an engineering survey of the tunnel.
Woolls Building, Center Point, around 1902
Woolls Building, Center Point, around 1902
Number Two: "Where was Zanzenburg, Texas? (Hint: Kerr County.)," which was published in August.
Zanzenburg was the original name of Center Point, Texas. The original name was given by a landowner there, Charles de Ganahl, who named it for his ancestral home in the Austrian Tyrol. The name was changed to Center Point in 1872 by Dr. G. W. Harwell, who was postmaster at the time. There are several stories about how Center Point got its current name, but the one that seems to make the most sense was it was a trading center roughly in the halfway between Kerrville and Comfort, and halfway between Fredericksburg and Bandera.
Freight wagons, west of Kerrville,
around 1900, from the collection
of Jeff Blakely Sr.
Number One: The most popular column in 2018 was "From Kerrville to Junction by Wagon," which appeared in January.
This story, about freighters carrying goods between Kerrville and Junction was a surprise hit, carried mainly by the wonderful photographs loaned to me by Jeff Blakely Sr.
Travel between Junction and Kerrville was slow and occasionally dangerous. There were 13 creek crossings between Mountain Home and Ingram alone. There were many very steep inclines between here and Junction, and occasionally a robber or two.
Stage travel between Kerrville and Junction took most of a day, and hauling freight between the two towns took even longer. Travel today, in our air-conditioned automobiles, is comfortable and fast, taking about an hour.
Thanks so much for your kind words about my column this year. I appreciate your support and encouragement.
Until next year, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who wishes you a healthy and happy 2019. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 29, 2018.

My new book about Kerrville and Kerr County is available online, at Herring Printing Company and at Wolfmueller's Books.





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