LBJ Ranch and Fredericksburg

Trip Start Feb 09, 2013
Trip End Jun 30, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

1.      We left Johnson City around 8:30 am headed west on 290 for about 15 miles to the second section of the LBJ Historic Site the LBJ ranch.  If you ever travel this way this is a must stop.  We spent over 3 and a half hours touring this ranch.  You first start out in the Visitor Center and get a permit to drive on the ranch.  The roads are very well marked where to go and there are pull overs, signs and animals along the way.  We saw Buffalo, Longhorns, Herefords, baby cows, pigs and goats.  The Wildflowers are not in bloom yet another three weeks and then they die out in the late spring.  Everyone raves about the colors and wildflowers.  On the drive you make stops at the Sauer=Beckmann Living History Farm with interpreters, Junction School (LBJ's first school), Lutheran Church,  LBJ’s Birthplace (house restored), Johnson Family Cemetery (LadyBird and LBJ have the biggest stones), Sam Ealy Johnson, SR Farmhouse (LBJ’s) grandfather’s home, Show Barn (where a ranger talks about Johnsons Ranch over 2000 acres and at one time much higher and shows the newborns and animals found on the farm), and the LBJ’s hanger where one airforce one is located and then finally a tour of the ranch.  

          It is beautiful with the big Live Oak Trees on the property and the Pedernales River meanders along in front.  One of the driveways to get out of the farm is through a waterfall (closed to the public) where LBJ used to shock his visitors by going under the water.  This is still a working farm.  Lady Bird and LBJ turned over about 700 acres to the National Park Service in 1973 four years before he died.  Lady Bird was allowed to live on the farm until she died over 30 years later.  It seems they never told the girls about this when they deeded it to the NPS until after everything was signed.  Linda and Lucy both support the NPS but Lucy will tell everyone they were not happy to lose the ranch, the barn and animals around the house.  The two daughters did get the remaining land about 2000 acres which is maintained and run by a cousin as a working ranch.  I can see why LBJ did this though because with estate taxes would the daughters been able to preserve the whole ranch?  He and Ladybird would be proud to see what the NPS has done and all the visitors that come here everyday.  Seeing how LBJ lived here it really gave us a new respect for this man.   He grew up with nothing and was a self made man but Lady Bird was the one with the money after buying the radio station so they traded their house with an aunt who owned this property.  LBJ added land and at one time he had 9000 acres and also leased other farm land.

     Many of the bills that LBJ pushed through Congress came from his experiences living in this part of Texas – Clean Water Bills, Dams, Headstart programs, Civil Rights and the bill for Elementary and Secondary Education (he had been a teacher in the beginning of his adult life).  He felt that education was the key to everything.

    The ranch house is exactly how it was when he lived there.  The one thing he did not take care of was his health – smoked 4 packs a day and did not exercise much!

    After we left the ranch we headed west to the town of Fredericksburg that was founded by German immigrants and their influence is everywhere – on the farms, stores, design of houses etc.  It is considered one of the quaintest villages in the hill country.  Driving along 290 west we also passed by 29 wineries and planned to stop at two the Fredericksburg and Grape Creek vineyards.  These vineyards don’t always have tasting  times and the tasting costs more than the RI or CT vineyards charge.  Some charge for tours and the wine they sell is expensive but tourists head for the hills to this wine country for the wines.  A few of the vineyards had come here from Napa Valley so the growth season must be really good.

   Spotted a Super Wal-Mart driving into town (brand new) so we had to stop because you don’t see that many Wal-Marts in this part of Texas and we needed supplies.  Drove into the village next to stop at the Visitor Center and decided to go to the Museum of the Pacific tomorrow morning since it is a must stop and so much to see.  Our campground is just three miles south of town at the Lady Bird Municipal Park.

Review of campground:  Lady Bird Municipal Park, Fredericksburg, TX    This is a county park three miles south of the village with 90 sites.  Sites are close together with full hookups and cable – Wifi is extra.  It cost $30 and must be paid with cash or check.  The park has a golf course, ball fields, a river that runs through it for fishing, picnic areas, dancing patio and driving range.  Park was very quiet and the staff was very friendly at check in.  We went by a number of RV campgrounds driving west on 290 and I think this is the best one in the area.
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