From the Annals of Granite – In 1978, the Nature Conservancy bought Enchanted Rock for $1.3 million. The NC saved the property from a planned development and then deeded the natural treasure to the State six days later. The top of the granite monolith north of Fredericksburg stands at an elevation of 1,825 feet and rises about 425 feet from the base. Some say it takes its name from the mysterious sounds that the heating and cooling rock reportedly makes. Another legend states that Tonkawa Indians gave it this name believing that a Spanish conquistador cast a spell on it, making magical ghost fires glow at the top. The site reopened as Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in March 1984. The area includes Enchanted Rock, Little Rock and Buzzard’s Roost and features over 11 miles of trails.
From the Annals of the Mob – In 1850, a mob of angry soldiers burned down the store of John M. Hunter in Fredericksburg. Hunter was one of the organizers of Gillespie County and its first county clerk. He kept the county’s records in his log store. Hunter had several confrontations with the soldiers from Fort Martin Scott. He once ejected a soldier named Kingston from his store – knocking him down with an ax handle, Kingston, in revenge, mistakenly shot and killed a German resident that night. The soldier was arrested and jailed, but was lynched before he could be tried.
On June 30, 1850, Hunter refused to sell whiskey to a soldier named Dole who became abusive. The hot-headed Hunter killed him with a stab to the chest. The next night a mob of angry soldiers returned, but Hunter had wisely fled town. The soldiers burned down his store, destroying all the county records up to that time. Several townspeople attempted to salvage the records, but the soldiers prevented them. Apparently neither Hunter nor the soldiers were punished for their crimes. Hunter returned and quickly built a new store on the same block.
From the Annals of Geologic Formations – In 1978, The Nature Conservancy bought Enchanted Rock from the Moss family for $1.3 million. The purchase kept the property preserved for posterity. Various plans had been floated for the site including turning it into a real estate development or quarry. The Moss family wanted the site preserved but the state of Texas lacked the funds or the willpower to purchase the Rock. TNC deeded the property to the State six days after the purchase. The site was closed to the public for several years and reopened as the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in March of 1984.
The granite pluton batholith near Fredericksburg rises to an elevation of 1825 feet and is formed from some of the oldest rock on the planet. The Rock has long been a popular spot for hiking, rock climbing and camping. The weathered dome, standing above the surrounding plain is known to geologists as a monadnock. Archaeological evidence indicates human visitation at the rock going back at least 11,000 years. The name “Enchanted Rock” is derived from Native American legend which attributed magical and spiritual powers to the high ground.
Red first visited the then private park in 1967 and has been back dozens of times since then. It is a must see for all Texans.
From the Annals of World War II – In 1945, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz signed the Instrument of Surrender with Japan that ended World War II. Nimitz, who was from Fredericksburg, was named commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet shortly after Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and ultimately had command over all of the Pacific Theater with the exception of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific sector. Nimitz was responsible for implementing the offensive that eventually brought the Japanese to unconditional surrender. Nimitz and the representatives of Emperor Hirohito (who did not later commit seppuku) signed the peace treaty aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
In 1964, Fredericksburg initiated a plan to honor its most famous son. A local group established the Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Memorial Naval Museum in the old Nimitz Hotel on Main Street in Fredericksburg. From this humble beginning arose the excellent National Museum of the Pacific War. If you have not been there, you need to go.