The Texas Hill Country is a geographic region of Central and South Texas, forming the southeast part of the Edwards Plateau. Given its location, climate, terrain, and vegetation, the Hill Country can be considered the border between the American Southeast and Southwest.[1] The region represents the very remote rural countryside of Central Texas, but also is home to growing suburban neighborhoods and affluent retirement communities.[2]

Texas Hill Country
Hill Country State Natural Area in Bandera County
Map of Texas Hill Country
Map of Texas Hill Country
Coordinates: 30°10′27″N 99°03′55″W / 30.17417°N 99.06528°W / 30.17417; -99.06528
LocationCentral Texas, United States
Elevation980–2,460 ft (300–750 m)

The region is notable for its karst topography and tall rugged hills of limestone or granite.[1] Many of the hills rise to a height of 400–500 ft (120–150 m) above the surrounding plains and valleys, with Packsaddle Mountain rising to a height of 800 ft (240 m) above the Llano River in Kingsland.[3] The Hill Country also includes the Llano Uplift and the second-largest granite dome in the United States, Enchanted Rock. The terrain throughout the region is characterized by a thin layer of topsoil and many exposed rocks and boulders, making the region very dry and prone to flash flooding. Native vegetation in the region includes various yucca, prickly pear cactus, desert spoon, and wildflowers in the Llano Uplift. The predominant trees in the region are Ashe juniper and Texas live oak.[4]

Bound on the east by the Balcones Escarpment, the Hill Country reaches into the far northern portions of San Antonio and western portions of Travis County including the cities of Austin and Lago Vista. As a result of springs discharging water stored in the Edwards Aquifer, several cities such as Austin, San Marcos, and New Braunfels were settled at the base of the Balcones Escarpment. As of 2016, the region's economy was one of the fastest growing in the United States.[5][6]

Counties edit

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, these 25 counties are included in the Hill Country Wildlife District:[7]

History and politics edit

During the American Civil War, due to its large, pro-Union, German immigrant population, the Texas Hill Country was opposed to Texas seceding from the Union.[8] Subsequently, in the three quarters of a century following Reconstruction, the core of the Hill Country generally provided the solitary support base for the Republican Party in what became a one-party Democratic state.

Even when no Republicans were in the Texas Legislature during the 1930s and 1940s, Gillespie and Kendall Counties backed every Republican presidential nominee barring Herbert Hoover’s failed 1932 re-election campaign, and Republicans continued to control local government. Guadalupe and Comal Counties were less Republican, but still did not vote for Democratic nominees outside the 1912, 1932, 1936, and 1964 landslides. The region was also the only one in antebellum slave states to back the insurgent candidacy of Robert La Follette in 1924; in fact, Comal was La Follette’s top county in the nation with 73.96% of the vote, and Gillespie and Comal were the only counties south of the Mason–Dixon line to give a plurality to his “Progressive” ticket.

Geography edit

Because of its karst topography, the area also features a number of caverns, such as Inner Space Caverns, Natural Bridge Caverns, Bracken Cave, Longhorn Cavern State Park, Cascade Caverns, Caverns of Sonora and Cave Without a Name. The deeper caverns of the area form several aquifers, which serve as a source of drinking water for its residents. Wonder Cave in San Marcos was formed by an earthquake along the Balcones Fault. From east to west, Texas Hill Country is where the Southern United States ends and the Southwestern United States begins.[1]

Several tributaries of the Colorado River in Texas—including the Llano and Pedernales Rivers, which cross the region west to east and join the Colorado as it cuts across the region to the southeast—drain a large portion of the Hill Country. The Guadalupe, San Antonio, Frio, Medina, and Nueces Rivers originate in the Hill Country.

This region is a dividing line for certain species occurrence. For example, the California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) is the only species of palm tree that is native to the continental United States west of the Hill Country's Balcones Fault.[9]

In popular culture edit

The area experiences a fusion of English, Spanish and German influences in food, beer, architecture, and music that form a distinctively "Texan" culture separate from the state's Southern and Southwestern influences.[1] For example, the accordion was popularized in Tejano music in the 19th century due to cultural exposure to German settlers.

Devil's Backbone is an elevated, winding stretch of Ranch to Market Road 12 between San Marcos and Wimberley, then Ranch to Market Road 32 continuing through to Blanco. It has long been the subject of ghost stories.[10] Folklore about it appeared in a 1996 episode of NBC's Robert Stack anthology series Unsolved Mysteries, featuring apparitional Spanish monks, Comanche and Lipan Apache tribes, Confederate soldiers on their horses, and a spirit of a wolf. It later reaired when this series was hosted by Dennis Farina.

The region has emerged as the center of the Texas wine industry.[citation needed] Three American Viticultural Areas are located in the areas: Texas Hill Country AVA, Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country AVA, and Bell Mountain AVA.

Notable people edit

Notable people of the Texas Hill Country
Name Birth Death Notes
Lance Armstrong 1971 Professional cyclist renowned for seven consecutive Tour de France wins after surviving cancer. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles over a doping controversy. He was born in Plano, but is a long-time resident of Austin.
Buffalo Hump c 1800 1870 War chief of the Penateka band of the Comanche
Liz Carpenter 1920 2010 A journalist, author, political speech writer, humorist, public speaker, and the first female vice president of University of Texas student body, she is one of the founders of National Women's Political Caucus and co-chair of ERAmerica, traveling the country to push for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. She drafted President Johnson's November 22, 1963, speech to the American public after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Jody Conradt 1941 A retired women's basketball head coach, she was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Texas Women's Hall of Fame 1986. She was born in Goldthwaite, Texas, and resides in Austin. She is the first women's basketball collegiate coach to reach 700 career victories, yet she achieved a 99% graduation rate for the students on her teams.
Michael Dell 1965 Founder of Dell computers, he started company in Austin and still resides there.
Shelley Duvall 1949 _ Actress, including The Shining, Popeye. Fort Worth-born, retired to Blanco, in Hill Country, from her long time base in California.[11]
John Henry Faulk 1913 1990 Austin-based radio personality, author, playwright, folklorist, actor, lecturer, blacklisted during the 1950s
Kinky Friedman 1944 American singer, songwriter, novelist, humorist, politician and columnist. Born in Chicago but grew up in Austin. Resides at Echo Hill Ranch near Kerrville. Founded Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, also located near Kerrville.
Fred Gipson 1908 1973 Novelist who authored Old Yeller, Savage Sam, and Hound Dog Man, lived in Mason
Trey Hardee 1984 World Champion Decathlete and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin
Harvey Hilderbran 1960 State Representative from the western Hill Country since 1989, a Republican from Kerrville
Max Hirsch 1880 1969 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame thoroughbred horse trainer
Betty Holekamp 1826 1902 German Texas pioneer, also called the "Betsy Ross of Texas"
Carl Hoppe 1897 1981 San Antonio artist who painted scenes of the Texas Hill Country
Molly Ivins 1944 2007 Political author, journalist, humorist from Austin
Lady Bird Johnson 1912 2007 Former First Lady of the United States, Graduate of University of Texas in Austin. Business woman and one-time owner of KTBC radio and television stations turned $17,500 investment into more than $150 million. She bankrolled her husband's initial political career, buried in Stonewall, Texas next to husband Lyndon B. Johnson. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is named for her decades-long project to beautify America's landscapes
Lyndon B. Johnson 1908 1973 Former President of the United States, born and raised in Stonewall, Texas.
Tommy Lee Jones 1946 Actor, born in San Saba.
Robert Earl Keen 1956 Country singer-songwriter, former resident of Bandera, Texas and current resident of Kerrville, Texas
Ben Kweller 1981 Recording artist, singer-songwriter, and actor. Originally from Greenville, TX now resides in Dripping Springs, TX.
Herman Lehmann 1859 1932 Apache captive and then Comanche adoptee (adopted son of Chief Quanah Parker), native of Loyal Valley, 1927 autobiography, Nine Years Among the Indians
Hermann Lungkwitz 1813 1891 Romantic landscape artist and photographer, noted for first pictorial records of the Texas Hill Country
Gerald Lyda 1923 2005 General contractor and cattle rancher, born and raised in the Hill Country community of Marble Falls
Johnny Manziel 1992 The first freshman to win Heisman trophy and quarterback for the Texas A&M University Aggies, from Kerrville
Samuel Maverick 1803 1870 Texas lawyer, politician, land baron and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. His name is the source of the term "maverick," first cited in 1867, which means "independently minded."
Matthew McConaughey 1969 Model/Actor, raised in Uvalde, Texas attended The University of Texas at Austin
John O. Meusebach 1812 1897 Founder of Fredericksburg negotiated 1847 Meusebach-Comanche Treaty (unbroken to this date) with Comanche chiefs Buffalo Hump, Santa Anna, Old Owl. Oversaw development of New Braunfels. Elected Texas State Senator for Bexar, Comal and Medina Counties. Buried Marschall-Meusebach Cemetery in Loyal Valley
Willie Nelson 1933 American country singer-songwriter, author, poet, actor and activist. Austin resident
Elisabet Ney 1833 1907 Sculptor, art pioneer, works can be found in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Texas State Capitol, U.S. Capitol
Chester W. Nimitz 1885 1966 Commander of U.S. Naval forces in the Pacific during World War II was from Fredericksburg, Texas and Kerrville, Texas
Old Owl c 1795 1849 Civil Chief of the Penateka band of the Comanche Indians
Alfred P.C. Petsch 1887 1981 Lawyer, legislator, civic leader, and philanthropist. Served in the Texas House of Representatives 1925–1941. Veteran of both World War I and World War II.[12]
Ann Richards 1933 2006 Governor of Texas (1991–1995). Resided in Austin.
Andy Roddick 1982 Former professional tennis player who resides in Austin.
Santa Anna c 1795 1849 War Chief of the Penateka band of the Comanche Indians
Juan Nepomuceno Seguín 1806 1890 Served on both sides during the Texas Revolution. Fought with Sam Houston and organized a Tejano rear guard. 1834 Territorial Governor of Texas, 1841 Mayor of San Antonio. Suspicions of his loyalty caused him to flee to Mexico in 1842. Served with Mexico's General Adrian Woll and participated in Woll's 1842 invasion of Texas. Seguin, Texas named in his honor.[13][14][15]
Sixpence None the Richer 1992 An alternative rock band prominent in the late 1990s with their song "Kiss Me"
Frank Van der Stucken 1858 1929 Music composer, conductor[16]
Stevie Ray Vaughan 1954 1990 Blues guitar player resided in Austin.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d Jordan, Terry G. "Hill Country". Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved November 7, 2009.
  2. ^ Dizik, Alina (June 8, 2018). "In Texas Hill Country, a Land Rush for the Rich". Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  3. ^ Google Earth Terrain Data
  4. ^ Lehman, Roy L.; Ruth O'Brien; Tammy White (2005). Plants of the Texas Coastal Bend. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 978-1-58544-408-3.
  5. ^ "America's Next Great Metropolis Is Taking Shape In Texas". Forbes. October 13, 2016. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  6. ^ "The City of the Eternal Boom". February 24, 2016. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  7. ^ Texas Parks and Wildlife. "Hill Country Wildlife Management". Land & Water: Habitats. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  8. ^ ‘6 Unionist Strongholds in the South during the Civil War’
  9. ^ Hogan, C. Michael (January 5, 2009). Nicklas Stromberg (ed.). "California Fan Palm: Washingtonia filifera". Archived from the original on September 30, 2009. Retrieved July 18, 2009.
  10. ^ "Texas scenic drive, Devil's Backbone, RR 32". Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  11. ^ Abramovitch, Seth (February 11, 2021). "Searching for Shelley Duvall: The Reclusive Icon on Fleeing Hollywood and the Scars of Making 'The Shining'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 11, 2021. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  12. ^ Watkins, Melanie. "Petsch, Alfred PC". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  13. ^ McKeehan, Wallace L. "The Battle of Salado The Journal of James Wilson Nichols 1820–1887". Sons of DeWitt Colony Texas. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  14. ^ de la Teja, Jesús F. "Seguin, Juan Nepomuceno". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  15. ^ "Col. Juan N. Seguin". Seguin Descendants Historical Preservation. Archived from the original on October 24, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  16. ^ Wolz, Larry. "Van Der Stucken, Frank Valentine". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved November 17, 2010.

External links edit