Along the Old Post Road from San Marcos to Buda
April 4, 2012 § Leave a comment
Last week I trundled down I-35 down to San Marcos for a doctor’s appointment (Where he leads, I will follow.). Rather than face a return drive along I-35’s unrelenting ugliness, as well as stop-and-go traffic beginning south of the Hwy. 71 interchange (now a standard feature any weekday beginning about 11 in the morning, I decided to toodle up the Old Post Road, past Kyle and through Buda, before taking refuge along the brief stretch of toll road that leads from just north of Buda to US 183.
The pristine, 1950s-era stainless steel train passenger coaches are still resting in their open-sided shed on a spur of the old IGN tracks as you leave San Marcos. I have never mentioned these classic cars in Hill Country or what is now is Central Texas, for fear that they would disappear from the scene (I hate it when I put something in one of the books and then it goes away before the next edition, making me look stupid.), but maybe I will now since they’ve been here for well over a decade and I am putting more of a railroad emphasis in the next editions of both books.
As I have noted before, development has encroached farther and farther out from San Marcos over the last three decades, pretty much to the Blanco River low-water crossing, which, thankfully, hasn’t been replaced, as is also the case with the massive, high, limestone-pier, IGN railroad span bridge across the Blanco, which, I believe is the original bridge built in the early 1880s.
I have reported on this drive on my blog before, and nothing much has changed in the intervening months, but I must make a few corrections, one of which is flat-out embarrassing. In Central Texas, I give an accurate description of the historic Kyle cemetery, but in best brain-fart tradition, I place it approximately 0.3 miles north of the entrance road to “Claiborne Kyle Log House” (2400 S. Old Stagecoach Rd.) , instead of its correct location, 0.3 miles south of the cabin entrance. The Skyview cemetery is located 0.3 miles north of the Kyle log cabin entrance; it has some graves dating to the 1880s but lacks the historical pedigree of the Kyle cemetery.
I parked at the entrance to the cabin and ducked under the gate for the brisk 5-minute walk to the cabin grounds, which are fenced in by a high wire-mesh fence. Bluebonnets, verbena, winecups, and a couple of Indian paintbrushes were in bloom along the dirt path.
Soon I was at the 4-way intersection with Cypress Rd. to the west, and the road into Kyle, which becomes Center St. once in town.
As long-time readers of Hill Country/Central Texas know, Cypress Rd. leads eventually to the old Ezekiel Nance homestead and mill. Contrary to what I state in the current edition of Central Texas, Cypress Rd. is not closed to the public beyond the gate; the Nance family property owners just want you to think so. The road is county owned all the way to its dead end, so feel free to open the gate, drive through, close the gate, and drive on to see and enjoy the old Nance homestead. The gate is just there to keep the cattle from straying off their property. But don’t trespass along the way; stick to the road and you’ll be OK.
Once in Kyle, a brief look at the old Auction Oak reveals that it is not too much worse for wear from the drought.
One of Kyle’s most historic structures has been heretofore excluded from previous editions of Hill County/Central Texas, because, I suppose, of its altered features. But what the hell, I’m mentioning it now, and it will be included in future editions. This being the old D.A. Young building, one-story, built from rough-cut limestone blocks, notable for being Kyle’s first permanent store, built in 1881 by David Alexander young who had come from Tennessee in 1857 and settled in Hays County. He and his wife moved here from Mountain City with the coming of the railroad. The chief alteration consists of a three-bay wing with three roll-up doors, leading me to suspect it once housed the fire department. It is located at the corner of Burleson and Miller streets, one block south of Center Street. Turn right at the Burleson Street traffic light, just after passing the Porter house.
The old IGN depot by the tracks is about to undergo restoration, as previously described.
On my last trip through Buda, the old stage stop house and post office were still undergoing renovation and were closed to the public. Work has been completed, and though the tiny post office is locked up, the house is open to the public and quite a pleasant little visit. The original look has been mostly restored, but as it serves as parks and visitor center office, it sports all the necessary modern conveniences. Several display cases are full of local artifacts and a variety of local history books, booklets and calendars are for sale, as well as free tourism pamphlets and such.
If you want to see the original IGN bridge across Onion Creek, built in 1881 and similar to the bridge that crosses the Blanco river, take a left on the gravel road just before you cross the railroad tracks as you leave “old” downtown Buda. Go past the park pavilion and facilities, and before long, you come to the bridge. The road dead ends soon after, so there’s no chance of getting lost.