New Kerr County History Book Available!

Sunday, May 22, 2022

A packet of Kerr County photographs from the 1950s

A packet of photographs, to be sold to tourists,
from Kerr County in the 1950s.
Click on any image to enlarge.

We Kerr County residents often get used to the natural beauty of the Texas Hill Country, not realizing how special it is. For many visitors, a trip to our area is a real treat. The hills, the Guadalupe River, the many activities and events offered – this has been an ideal place to relax for more than a century.
700 block of Water Street, Kerrville
A kind reader mailed me something this week – a little 3.75x3 inch envelope with 8 tiny black and white photographs enclosed. It was an item manufactured by the W. M. Cline Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee, meant to be purchased by visitors to an area. It was an inexpensive memento for tourists, to help them remember their visit here.
I’ve seen other examples of this same product, but this one is different. Though several of the images are familiar to me, most of them are photos I haven’t seen before. I thought you might enjoy seeing them, too.
Even the three familiar images are interesting. There’s a photo of the 700 block of Water Street, taken from the 600 block, just past Sidney Baker. This image helps us date the image – since Sid Peterson Hospital was completed in 1949, it has to be after that date. 
Ski boats in Louise Hays Park
An image of ski boats churning the water by the Louise Hays Park dam offers another clue – there were ski shows offered down in that narrow ‘lake.’ Without the improvements made by the Kerrville Jaycees, in 1954, these ski shows would not have been possible; the Jaycees dug a ‘canal’ at the upriver end of Tranquility Island and made other improvements with the express purpose of providing a venue for “speed boats” and water-skiing exhibitions. So, at least that photograph dates from the mid-1950s. I noticed, like you, the name of our river is misspelled in that photo’s title.
The other familiar image was taken from the top of Tivy Mountain, to the east of downtown Kerrville.
Kerrville from Tivy Mountain

It shows a small town beneath a wide sky. From the top of Tivy Mountain, the distant hills shown in the photograph demonstrate how flat our area would be – if it hadn’t been for eons of erosion and the work of rivers and creeks. The two large buildings in that photograph are the Blue Bonnet Hotel and the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital, both now gone.
In the small packet are images which I’ve never seen before:
A nice photo of the V. A. Hospital, after a snowfall. This hospital began around 100 years ago – originally an American Legion Hospital, built to treat wounded veterans from World War I. (That’s why the area around the hospital is called ‘Legion’ on older maps.)
Johnson Creek, Kerr County
I haven’t seen the photo of Johnson Creek before, but the bluff there looks about right. Forgive me for being a little skeptical on the titles the Cline Co. placed on the photos – you’ll see why in the next few.
The ‘Lake at Hunt’ photograph looks a lot like Ingram Lake to me. It’s interesting to see how few structures can be seen along Highway 39 to Hunt. I think I recognize the two-story structure across the lake in the image, and Ingram Dam in the lower right of the photo.
The image of the diving board at Louise Hays Park is another shot I haven’t seen before, though I’m old enough to remember seeing the hardware for a diving board in that spot. Today the River Trail, after going under the Sidney Baker Street Bridge toward Tranquility Island, comes very near the spot shown in the photograph. You can still see the curve of the old swimming area, with a single curving step down to the level of the river. The swimming hole itself filled in with gravel decades ago, and now it would be extremely unsafe to dive there!
I don’t remember seeing the photo of the Jaycee Rodeo before. For many years that club sponsored a big rodeo over the July 4th weekend. Here’s an interesting tidbit – the rodeo was held on the Tivy Football field. I’m not sure how they repaired the field after the rodeo, but it was certainly before the artificial turf we have today.
I’m very thankful to the kind reader who sent these my way – and shared them with our entire community.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects old Kerr County photographs and historical items. If you have something you’d share with him, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 21, 2022.

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