Before Lampasas County was created, John Burleson, an early settler, deeded land to his daughters, Elizabeth Scott and Martha Moore. After it became popular belief that the spring water in Lampasas possessed healing powers, Elizabeth laid out lots for a town and offered them for sale. Lots were priced between $5.00 and $12.50. The notoriety of the Lampasas Springs led to rapid growth, and Lampasas earned the title “Saratoga of the South.”
Lampasas County, named for the Lampasas River, was created from parts of Travis and Bell counties on February 1, 1856, and organized March 10 with Lampasas, as the county seat.
The Town of Lampasas
Disasters plagued Lampasas in the early days. In December of 1871 a fire destroyed the county courthouse. A new courthouse was built only to be swept away by a flood in 1873.
Major change came to Lampasas in 1882. In that year a passenger train linked Lampasas to the coastal city of Galveston. The arrival of the railroad in Lampasas caused major growth. The mineral springs were commercialized and people came to the “Saratoga of the South” for leisure and healing.
The first private bathhouse was built by Elizabeth and George Scott. Elizabeth Scott and her husband George erected a hotel near the springs, which became known as Scott’s White Sulphur Springs. The springs became a popular recreation site, touted for the healing properties of the mineral water. In 1863 the Scotts sold their property to William H. Storm and Thomas J. Moore. Storm sold the springs property to John L. Hanna and his sister Isabella Hanna in 1867. Popularity of the springs grew under John Hanna’s management, and the hotel and springs became known as Hanna Springs.
Nothing remains of the hotel at Hanna Springs today. A large tank denotes the site of the Hanna mineral water spring. It’s located a few blocks north of the county courthouse on South Live Oak St. at the junction with East North Avenue near the Hanna Springs Swimming Pool. This location is today the home of the Hanna Springs Sculpture Garden.
Sometime after 1882 the Hancock Springs Bathhouse and the Grand Park Hotel were constructed. Remnants of the old bathhouse can still be seen today near the pool at Hancock Park. A two-mile trolley, drawn along its tracks by a mule, carried passengers from the Santa Fe Train Depot on the other side of town to the Park Hotel. Today the city operates a pool at Hancock Springs offering the public an opportunity to swim in the mineral water.
The Santa Fe Depot located at 501 E. Second Street, just a few blocks from the town square and county Courthouse (at the intersection of S. Live Oak and E. Second St.) was built in 1904. Early-day center for news and social life. Replaced the mule car from old depot to city square.
Across the street is the Keystone Hotel. Built in 1870, famous early-day stagecoach inn of J. L. N. Gracy. Windows have keystone arches. Native rock was hauled to site by oxen.
The county courthouse, the town square, and the old commercial district around it are all interesting and worthy of a walk to see what’s interesting to you. German food is one thing to keep an eye open for.
Spring Ho Festival
Annual festival held on the second full weekend in July since 1972. Don’t ask about the name, no one seems to know where it came from. A great small town festival that’s easy to recommend. They even have a Spring Ho web site.
What’s Close By
Colorado Bend State Park is a vast scenic park with 6 miles of river frontage along the Colorado River. Within the state park: Gorman Falls is beautiful. The falls are available by tour only on Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. The location is remote and getting there involves a moderately physical 1.5 mile round trip hike.
The town of San Saba is a few miles further west of Colorado Bend State Park. Nothing here really. No big box retailers, now where to buy $5 coffee drinks, a true retail dead spot. On the plus side there’s Mill Pond Park with a spring-fed lake and water fall. The original water works for the town, it has an interesting history, and also picnic grounds, walking trails, etc. The Wedding Oak, a 400-year-old oak listed in Famous Trees of Texas is an extremely popular spot for weddings in the area. The Regency Suspension Bridge near the town of Regency and the Beverage Suspension Bridge are two of only a hand full of historic suspension bridges remaining in the state of Texas. Depending on what you are interested in, you might want to look at the San Saba County Courthouse or investigate the San Saba Bike Trails. This link to the San Saba County page at the Lower Colorado River Authority web site provides a great index of outdoor tourism attractions in the area.
A Day in Lampasas Texas More information about Hancock Spring Pool.
The Lampasas County Chamber of Commerce – http://www.lampasaschamber.org/
Much can be learned about early Lampasas history by simply reading the Texas Historical Commission signs sprinkled all around town. More information was extracted from the Texas Historical Commission’s Sites Atlas. (http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/)
Copyright © 2009 by Sam Fenstermacher
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