Free Day Trip Guide:  "Fredericksburg, Crabapple, and the Willow City Loop - 2009"

by Carol A. King

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Willkommen (or Welcome...) Texas Daytripper’s "Fredericksburg, Crabapple, and The Willow City Loop" day trip adventure! It’s a lighthearted blend of Texas and German trivia, history, maps, photos, and roadside word puzzles that offers something for everyone... whether you seek entertainment, education, or just a relaxing drive. We will guide you every step of the way with clear and easy-to-find directions and maps.

This day trip will start with some running around in Fredericksburg to learn about the German history and dwellings that add flavor to the town’s character and personality. When you’re done exploring the town, you will head for the back roads north of Fredericksburg! The back roads round trip is about 60 miles, but can take a few hours to explore. The roads will take you from Fredericksburg to the ghost town of Crabapple, then on to the scenic-filled Willow City Loop, and back to Fredericksburg.

It’s best to start the day trip in the morning. We suggest that you have breakfast in Fredericksburg before you begin. We like the pancakes at the Old German Bakery on Main Street (and talking with the locals that gather there). The time in Fredericksburg may take about 2 hours. Getting to the ghost town of Crabapple may take a couple of hours due to exploration time. Crabapple is an excellent place for a picnic, but you should carry your food with you. If you can wait for lunch, another half hour’s drive from Crabapple will put you near the ‘Knot In The Loop Saloon’ which serves outstanding hamburgers and other food. (see the maps). After following the Willow City Loop and exploring Willow City, you will probably end up back in Fredericksburg by late afternoon.



Clues to the crossword puzzle found to the right will be given throughout the trip. The clues are placed so that you should be able to spot the answer near your current location. The whole idea is to HAVE FUN! So go for it! Happy Daytripping!....

Directions: We’ll begin the tour at the Admiral Nimitz Museum because it's easy to find.  It's at the corner of Washington St. and Main (US 290).  (Click on the map.)

Google Map



Important Reading for This Trip:

"Getting To Fredericksburg"

(Background on the settling of Fredericksburg)




Admiral Nimitz Museum

This is an outstanding museum with a lot of interesting information. Since it can take a good part of a day to explore the museum, we suggest you come back here when you have more time. For now, we’ll just use it as a starting point. HOWEVER, don’t miss the historical marker!


Admiral Nimitz Museum

Crossword: 14 Across:

I blow it all off.
So nothing gets my goat.
I glide through life slowly.
I am a _____________.


Directions: Head towards downtown on Main (west going away from the Nimitz Hotel), cross Lincoln Street and watch for the White Elephant Saloon on your right (see picture below). Stop in one of the parking spaces facing the building.


Postcard, Note Card, or Wall Print


The White Elephant Saloon

That imported bas-relief carved white elephant has been poised up there watching over Fredericksburg since 1888. It was over 120 years ago when John Kleck built the White Elephant Saloon as a ‘place of resort for gentlemen’. The men gathered socially to play billiards, dominoes, or cards, and, of course, to quench their thirsts. There were high stakes gambling games in a 2-story rear addition, OR the men could play for smaller stakes downstairs. Imagine away the current shops and substitute men walking in off a dusty street for some male bonding. (I wonder what the women were doing....)


Crossword:  4 Across

I’ve made an impression on the ground.
You’ll just have to look around.
A 4 legged critter might step with me
But not the elephant. I’m just too wee.


Directions: Leaving the White Elephant Saloon, continue to the next cross street, which is Llano Street AND Highway 16 North. Turn right. Go one block, cross Austin Street, and go one more block to Schubert Street and turn left. Watch for the 2-story house at 108 W. Schubert on your right within the first block.

Google Map


Postcard, Note Card


Charles Jung Home (use y sound for the j, sort of like yoong)
With no Home Depot around the corner, the settlers of Fredericksburg had to rely on their own ingenuity, skills, and whatever natural materials were on hand. Using the abundant resources of the Hill Country and influences from their various heritages, these homesteaders built their homes and businesses with distinction and flair. Jung’s stone mason hand is unmistakable in his 1871 home - a dwelling made of limestone quarried from nearby Cross Mountain. The Jung home is somewhat unique in Fredericksburg because of its SQUARE, two-story design, which is not as typical as the style of the Knopp house down the road.


Crossword:  5 Down

While you travel away from here.
Spot an old warehouse very near.
The famous blocks they kept in stock.
Were named for the brothers. It’s ______ Block!


Directions: Continue west on Schubert Street. Cross Adams St. and right after crossing Crockett St., watch for the Henry Cordes house on your right at 204 W. Schubert.

Google Map




Henry Cordes Home (really Heinrich August Cordes)

Henry Cordes wasn’t even born until 1861 in Fredericksburg, so by the time he had this house built in 1893, he could find someone else to do it. Instead of having to be a stone mason himself, he could spend his time rolling grain, or something, at the Reliance Roller Mill, and keeping water frozen at the Stein Ice House so the stone masons wouldn’t have to make their own ice. I see a community thing happening here! By the way, Henry was truly a Fredericksburg baby. He was christened in 1862 in the Vereins Kirche!


Crossword:  15 Across

I caught the rain in a tank.
So my owners made sure they never stank!
I am a stone __________.


Directions: Continue west on Schubert Street. Cross Orange St. and watch for the Johann Knopp home on your left at the corner of Milam St. and Schubert.




Johann Knopp Home (That’s a hard K! Ka nupp, NOT Nop!)

Diversity... Johann Knopp was a stonemason like Charles Jung, and also built his home in 1871, but this house looks a bit different than Jung’s, doesn’t it? Knopp’s house is more representative of the typical German story and a half style with an outside staircase to the second floor, often referred to as a ‘Sunday House’. Many early settlers were allotted a lot in town plus acreage out of town where they eventually lived and farmed throughout the week. They would often use these smaller 2-story homes in town on weekends when they came in to shop and attend church. (OR perhaps later in 1888, the women shopped and the men went to the White Elephant Saloon?)

Across the street, there’s that Crenwelge name again! But that “Sunday House” is MUCH newer, being built in 1903....


Crossword:  16 Down

Look Out!
Watch for ________ crossing near here!


Crossword:  21 Across

Crenwelge puts me in his press.
I’d be a sticky mess on your dress.


Directions: Turn left on Milam St. by the Knopp house. Go one block and turn right on Austin Street. The John Walter home, now known as the Austin Street Retreat, will be on your right at 408 W. Austin.

Google Map

Postcard, Note Card, or Wall Print


Sheriff John Walter Home

Now here is an excellent example of the array of architecture found in Fredericksburg. John Walter, originally a bartender, was Gillespie County sheriff from 1876 to 1888. The original log cabin that he built is at the right. The faux-fachwerk addition to the left was built in the late 1970’s. Listen to this bargain! Sheriff Walter bought the three lots here in 1867 for only $50! ALSO, when the jail burned down in 1885, Sheriff Walter used his kitchen for a jail! So where did he cook?...... Here’s another interesting money note: For $120 (for an unmarried man), or $240 (for head of household), the Adelsverein offered prospective German immigrants 160 or 320 acres (respectively), transportation, a log house, and provisions!


Directions: Just a little past Sheriff Walter’s Home, look for the Vogel Sunday House at 418 Austin.

Google Map



Vogel Sunday House

Surprise, surprise, it’s another Sunday House in Fredericksburg! I’m thinking that its current day spa status might entice some into town any day of the week. In the 1880’s, when German immigrant, Christian Vogel, built a little one room house with an attic to use on the weekends, he probably never imagined it would be expanded to its present day impressiveness.


Crossword:  10 Across

I am pressed to cover and protect.

I am ______.


Directions: Continue West on Austin Street and cross Edison Street. Then turn right on Bowie Street. Go to the end of the block and watch for the house with the big chimney on your left at the corner of Schubert and Bowie.

Google Map

Postcard, Note Card, or Wall Prints


John Peter Tatsch House (say peter more like pater - long a)

If you come across any furniture produced by master cabinetmaker, John Peter Tatsch, you’d best grab it! He was a “Tischler”, or cabinetmaker and turner. His beautiful use of cherry, oak, walnut, and hackberry (all local woods) have caused his works, especially the wardrobes, to become highly prized. After sailing to Texas in 1852 from western Germany with his wife and 2 daughters, Peter Tatsch ended up here and built a barn and stone house (supposedly the first stone house in Fredericksburg). Being a cabinetmaker, Peter did all of the interior woodwork himself. The house is extraordinary in that it features an inside stairway to the attic rather than the typical outside one. Most unique, however, is the huge offset fireplace that they say is large enough to roast a whole cow!

From a Fredericksburg.Texas.Blogspot post: “This home is a favorite subject for many history books and detailed floor plans can be found in the Library of Congress. The authenticity of this pioneer home gives you a true feeling of what life was like in Fredericksburg.


Directions: Turn around on Bowie Street and head back the way you came. Cross Austin Street and immediately watch for the large 2 story limestone home on your right at 110 North Bowie.

Google Map



William Bierschwale Home (beer schwalla - sort of)

Let’s move in our time machine to the 1880’s. By this time, the early German-Texas architecture becomes less prevalent. We see less of the craftsman designing his own home. Now we find more designs by such prominent architects as Alfred Giles, who designed the Bierschwale home. The style is rich, High Victorian Italianate, but is built with locally quarried light-yellow limestone. The combination creates a structure that is both high style and Hill Country vernacular at the same time. The walls on this place are over 20 inches thick! That should keep their utility bills down. We will be seeing more of Alfred Giles’ work soon.

By the way, William Bierschwale (b. 1858 in Texas, d. 1932 in Gillespie Co.) was a County Clerk, Banker, and member of the State Legislature. He is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery.


Crossword:  8 Across

I spread my wings to guard the door,
Where letters are placed to tell the lore.


Directions: Continue South on Bowie St. , crossing Main St. and San Antonio Street. Continue on Bowie and then turn left on W. Creek Street. Watch for the home your left at 512 W. Creek St.

Google Map




Adam Krieger (kree ger) and George Geyer (guy er) Home

Now let’s go back in time again to 1848. We had to come and see a fachwerk (logs, rock, and mortar) style home because it is so very typical of the early settlers’ homes. Fachwerk (fach vairk) in Fredericksburg is done this way: Frame your house in post oak. Fill the spaces between the framing timbers with stone. If you have enough money, finish by plastering the outside. (It’s okay to leave the timbers exposed....adds to the design!) This house was built in 1848 by two bachelors, Adam Krieger and George Geyser and has been carefully restored to include the yard garden that was so common among the early pioneer residents.

Crossword:  20 Down

Above a cabinet on one side,
Is a tiny house where the ________ abide..


Directions: Continue on W. Creek street to the next block and watch for the Kuenemann House at 413 W. Creek on your right.

Google Map

Postcard, Note Cards, or Wall Prints



Kuenemann House

Take a moment here and carefully read the first few sentences on the historical marker. Try to imagine the high hopes that were dashed after sailing from Germany to the Texas Coast, only to find no transportation to New Braunfels. Reflect on how it must have felt to lose a child as the family walked all the way to New Braunfels on crowded and disease ridden roads. It’s heart wrenching and amazing. Not ONLY did they walk all the way to New Braunfels, but when they arrived in Fredericksburg, they had to settle amidst hostile natives. Most of these settlers didn’t have any idea about any of these issues when they left their homeland.


Directions: Continue East on W. Creek Street. Cross Edison Street. Go one block and turn left on Milam Street. Go one block on Milam Street to San Antonio Street and turn right. Watch for the St. Mary’s Churches on your left.

Google Map




St. Mary’s Churches

When Fredericksburg was first settled, the Adelsverein provided the residents with one church that included all faiths. We will see a replica of that Vereins Kirche on the next stop. The Catholic group was the first to split from the Vereins Kirche’s interdenominational group. Using the stipend received from their interest in the Vereins Kirche, the Catholics first built a wooden church. By 1861, they were able to erect the stone Marienkirche (mar ee’ in kirch uh) that still stands before you. Notice the contrast with, yet the compatibility of, the Gothic Revival St. Mary’s Church built later in 1905-06. The interior of the St. Mary’s Church is pretty awesome, and if you go in, you’ll see why it’s included as one of the Painted Churches in Texas.



Crossword:  1 Down

 18 x 48 x 15 were my dimensions.
The place where I first sat
Is worthy of mention.




Directions: From San Antonio Street, turn left on Orange Street. Go one block to Main Street and turn right on Main Street. The Vereins Kirche is on down Main just past Crockett Street on the left.

Google Map

Postcard, Note Card, or Wall Prints


Postcard, Note Card, or Wall Prints

Vereins Kirche (fare-ines-keer-ca - sort of)

The unique octagonal shape of the Vereins Kirche has made it a picturesque symbol of the community. The first Vereins Kirche was built right in the middle of Main St. here in 1847. The Adelsverein (ah-dels-fer-ine) required that each settler have a certificate of baptism, and in turn, promised to provide a church. The building was named the Vereins Kirche, or Society Church, but , because of its shape, was often referred to as the “Kaffeemuehle*, which mean coffee mill.

The early Germans were largely Lutheran, but this church housed all denominations until they began forming their own groups. The original was built with the best fachwerk (fack-vairk) material (remember fachwerk?). It was also designed with defense in mind, as you can see by the strategically placed windows allowing one to see out on all sides. The first Vereins Kirche was torn down in 1897 due to structural weaknesses AND because it was getting in the way of traffic on Main St.. The replica before you was built in the 1930s.


Crossword:  2 Down

 It may not look like it, but the first part rhymes with boys!
My last name is ____________.



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The Fredericksburg Maibaum

Behind the Vereins Kirche, look for the Maibaum tree! If you’ve been paying attention so far, the people and things hanging out on the limbs might mean something to you! Maibaums (Maypoles) are erected in Bavarian villages during festivals. After the festivities, the poles continue to serve as frameworks for symbols of the villages’ histories and events of interest. The Fredericksburg Maibaum was constructed in 1991 to symbolize the history of Fredericksburg.




Directions: The old Gillespie County Courthouse is directly across Main Street from the Vereins Kirche.



Postcard, Note Card, or Wall Prints


2nd Gillespie County Courthouse - Now Pioneer memorial Library
The first Gillespie County Courthouse was built in 1855. It was a two-story limestone building with a galley in front, only two rooms downstairs, and a courtroom upstairs. Whether it became too small, or because the county commissioners wanted it to be more grandiose, they decided they needed a new one in 1881. A competition was held with a $50 dollar prize for the best plan for a 2-story courthouse. Requirements for the design were: (a) 6 rooms and 2 vaults downstairs, and (b) large courtroom and 2 offices upstairs. Two architects submitted plans and the County Judge and Commissioners selected those of Alfred Giles. Mr. Giles was paid a one thousand dollar fee for the design of the courthouse. He insisted that the best materials be used. The white limestone used for the trim came from quarries near Luckenbach. Limestone for the foundations and walls was quarried northwest of town. The entrance doors are made with raised panels set in molding. Copper was used to create the elegant locks and doorknobs. The courthouse designed by Mr. Giles was used for 57 years until a new one was constructed in 1939. The old courthouse then became offices and storage for 27 years until the library moved in.


Crossword:  19 Across

  I was fluttering around the courthouse door

 and got stuck on the doorknob!

I am a ________________.



Postcard, Note Card, or Wall Prints


Postcard, Note Card, or Wall Prints

Easter Fires (just some interesting info....)
Every year on the Saturday evening preceding Easter, huge bonfires are ignited on top of many of the surrounding hills, lights are extinguished in the town, and the church bells toll. It has been the legend that this custom originated when Comanche Indian scouts lit fires to send messages to their chiefs, who were in the middle of negotiations with Meusebach. The local tale even includes some children who were frightened by the signal fires. In order to calm the children, their mother told them that it was the Easter Rabbit and his helpers lighting fires in order to boil the Easter eggs. However, the facts tell us that these probably are just stories. In reality, the Easter Fires derive from ancient traditions, even before the dawn of Christianity. The practice originated in many parts of Europe, including northwestern Germany. It was a pagan celebration of the arrival of Spring. The burning effigy at one time symbolized winter. This custom, along with the rabbit and egg, are pagan customs that passed into Teutonic Christianity. Later, in some places, these fires were referred to as “Judas Fires” because effigies of Judas Iscariot were frequently burned in them. The Old World origins of these fires is incontestable. It is likely that immigrant Germans brought the tradition with them from their old country.




Directions: On the sidewalk in front of the ex-courthouse, face the street and look across and up at the ridgelines of the block to your right.

  Eagle Carving out of a Tree

at Pioneer Memorial Library

by James Brazeal


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Bank of Fredericksburg - ALSO by Alfred Giles

Okay, here comes some more of that architectural lingo....While the H-shaped building that was the courthouse shows more of Giles’ use of the “High Victorian Italiante detailing”, the Bank of Fredericksburg building (built in 1897) is an “important Giles venture into Richardosian Romanesque styling”.





Directions: Leave the Vereins Kirche and take a left off of Main onto Adams Street, heading northeast. Pull over by the jewelry store in the first block.

Google Map


Postcard, Note Card, or Wall Prints


F. W. Arhelger Shop (now jewelry store)

The ramp and size of the double-doored entrance are reminders that in 1898, F.W. Arhelger wanted wagons and large equipment to come in and out of his farm implement shop. Pause a few minutes to climb in the Way-Back machine.... Imagine a stage stop with a livery stable next door, dirt roads, pieces of farm machinery strewn about behind the shop, whinnies, snorts, and men bargaining for the best implement deal.


Crossword:  12 Across

  Forged of metal, sitting high and low.
There are 2 near here that we tow.

We are _________.








Directions: Just past the jewelry store is Texas Jack’s. If you REALLY want to get in the Way Back machine, check out their vintage products!





Postcard, Note Card, or Wall Prints


Livery Stable and Stage Stop (now Texas Jack’s)

According to the Texas Jack web site, “The store is housed in the old livery stable and forge which was originally constructed in 1889. The livery once served as stage line stop for fresh horses or repair for the stage headed from San Antonio to Llano.The store was named after John Burwell 0mohundro, a Texas wild west hero known as “Texas Jack”. After serving as a scout in the Civil War, Jack fought Comanches and outlaws in Texas and became a cowboy going up the Chisholm Trail with longhorn herds. He was featured in the dime novel adventures written by Ned Buntline and joined Buffalo Bill on an eastern theatrical tour starring in the 1st frontier stage production in 1874 titled “The Scouts of the Plains”.


Postcard or Wall Prints


One Last Glance at Fredericksburg Before We Get Out of Town

Since I took a shot of Fredericksburg Main Street, thought I'd throw it in here.


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It's Time to Head For the Hills!

It’s time to head for the hills! FIRST, make sure you have gas, snacks, and water! The back roads drive is about 60 miles but will probably take from 3 to 4 hours because you will be exploring! Near Eckert, there is an excellent place to have a hamburger. (We’ll take you there!)


Directions:  To leave town, it can help to take a look at the map of Fredericksburg at the top of this page again.  Keep heading northeast on Adams Street. As you travel on Adams St., pay attention to the houses and notice the different eras represented by the various styles of architecture. Go 4 blocks on Adams St. to College St. Take a short jog to the right and get back on Adams St. by turning left. Go 12 more blocks on Adams St. until you reach Lower Crabapple Road. (There is a school across the street.) Take a left on Lower Crabapple Rd.

Google Map



Click Map for overview of the whole back roads route.

Our route is in red.

Map - Fredericksburg Onto Lower Crabapple Road

ALL RIGHT! Now this is the stuff we REALLY love! Exploring the back roads is the best stress relief medicine there is! For me, it’s an adventure that always rewards with unexpected treasures. Let your mind simply flow with the road, leaving work and daily ‘have-to’s’ behind. If you open your eyes, you’ll discover a world filled with art and creativity. My favorite discoveries are ones like the bicycles on stumps in the field.

And THAT leads me to borrow some words from the web site that are a good description of the Hill Country’s back roads..... “A road cyclists dream, the Texas Hill Country offers many miles of quiet hilly roads, substantially great weather; and friendly, entertaining towns. Invariably while riding in the Hill Country one will happen upon a herd of cows (“heard of cows? ‘course I heard a cows!”) standing in the road. Cows are big, and bulls are bigger still; all can be imposing. When approached by a rider, most cows just stand there but sometimes they begin hoofing it. And although part of a herd, they do not all necessarily behave the same. One local rider is a former rodeo roper, and he rides through herds of cows with true authority, often whistling and saying things like “yipee ty”, which we gather only cowboys and cows understand. This is a rural county and towns are far apart. Additionally many towns listed on maps often encompass little more than a cemetery and a small house with goats. Some routes go quite a distance without so much as a water fountain. Take your own food and hydration.”


Directions: Follow Lower Crabapple Rd for a little over 3 miles. Watch for Kneese Road on your right and turn right on Kneese Rd. Look for the bicycles on stumps in a field to your left. When you see them, pull over.



Click Map for 1st Part of  Back Roads Route


Bicycle Sculpture and A Little Info About Palo Alto Creek

We didn't find out who did the 'bicycle sculpture', but since our main mission is to seek the 'art' on the back roads, this definitely qualified as a find and we just had to share it.


Kneese Road crosses and follows Palo Alto Creek. Do NOT cross it if its flooding! If you follow it, don’t forget to come back! The following is from Texas Handbook Online:  “Palo Alto Creek rises southeast of Cherry Mountain in central Gillespie County and runs southeast for sixteen miles to its mouth on the Pedernales River, one mile north of U.S. Highway 290. The stream is intermittent in its upper reaches. It rises in the hills of the eastern Edwards Plateau and crosses into the Central basin, running through flat to rolling terrain with loamy and clayey soils; vegetation consists primarily of grasses and open stands of live oak, Ashe juniper, and mesquite.” 


Directions: Turn around at the bicycle sculptures and go back to Lower Crabapple Rd. Turn right to head north on Lower Crabapple Road. In a little over 3 1/2 miles, you will spot the large 2-story limestone house on your left. This was originally the ‘Miller Creek Ranch’. On your way, watch CAREFULLY for the answer to the riddle below!




Crossword:  7 Down 

I am in between the holly and the hill.
If the wind’s not blowing, I am very still.
Binoculars might need to find me
But if you look closely, you will see.


Postcard, Note Card, or Wall Prints


Palo Alto Creek


CROSSWORD HINT: There is a children’s book....  A happy, uncomplicated world surrounded by beautiful meadows and little picket fences is created in ‘Holly _____ Hill’. Susan Wheeler, a resident of Fredericksburg, is the creator of Victoria Rose and her compatriots of Holly ____ Hill, an exquisitely detailed watercolor world of gentle creatures.

Middle Creek Ranch

Take a look at the map. Can you figure out why this was called “Middle Creek Ranch”?   At the time of this writing, it was for sale, SO.... I’ll borrow from the handy realtor’s description to describe the area....
“This 86+ acre tract includes rich, deep soils, some improved pastures, and is a perfect mix for a horse property or a place to let your longhorns roam. Middle Creek crosses the property (water is below surface) and two other ravines feed into the creek, which provide an excellent opportunity to build a large dam and capture lots of water. Improvements include a Basse Block home. (Basse Block is a term used for a form of concrete block unique to the Fredericksburg area and used in the early 1900’s.) The home has 2 bedrooms and 1.5 baths. It is 1666 SF and was built in 1915, with a standing seam metal roof. An inviting front porch is a prime location to hang a swing or place a set of rocking chairs. And on the back of the home is a full length porch. Additionally there is a log/stone cabin dating back to late 1800’s (1 bedroom/1 bath with 640 SF). The cabin has a wonderful fireplace and a cedar shake roof. Deer and turkey are plentiful in the area and dove hunting should also be very productive.”


Directions: From the Middle Creek Ranch, continue north on Lower Crabapple Road for almost 6 miles until you reach a T. You should see Itz-Kast Road going to the right. You don’t need to take that road, but try to find a place to stop to read the info below. On the way, look for the answers to the riddles below.




Art on Crabapple Road

Crossword:  13 Down 

I can be used to describe murder.
But I’m more peaceful before a star.


Crossword:  17 Down 

The longhorn wants to follow.
But must protect the mails.
Don’t worry for our sorrow.
We are the happy ________.


Soooo, Did you see the turkey on the way? Admittedly, our photo makes it stand out a little more. But, that’s the thing... if you watch, you can spot all kinds of art lurking on fence posts, gates, or out in the fields. Capture the gem of the art in your camera or in your mind! Feel the thrill of discovering a treasure! Take time to ponder how it was made, what it’s made of, and why it was done.


Directions:  Since the DC Riley House described next is on private property, there's no need to go up Itz-Kast Road, but we'll tell you about it below...



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DC Riley House

Just up Itz-Kast road is the DC Riley House, but it is a private residence so we’ll just show you a photo here. One interesting thing is that the “DC” stands for David Crockett. Sound familiar? Well, we did talk to the current owners of the house and there’s a reason for that. DC Riley was a descendent or related to a woman that married Davy Crockett. ANYWAY, four generations have lived in this house built in the early 1870’s by pioneer David Crockett Riley. Stone for 24” outer walls and 18” partitions came from a nearby hill. Workers were paid 50 cents and a pint of Crockett Riley’s whiskey (home-distilled) for a day’s work. The OTHER interesting thing they told us was that the ridge you can see to the south of here was the agreed-upon dividing line between the new pioneer settlements and the Native Americans. SO, DC Riley was taking a big risk by building north of that ridge!


Directions: Continue northwest on Lower Crabapple Road. (At the T, you would have turned left.) In about 2 1/4 miles, watch for the Crabapple Cemetery Road on your left and turn on it. Do NOT attempt this if there has been a recent rain! Cross Crabapple Creek, and then continue on the dirt road until you see the cemetery at the top of a small hill on your right. Get out and climb! It’s worth it!

Google Map




St. John Cemetery

The dirt road leads south across Crabapple Creek and eventually arrives at this isolated hilltop cemetery. The cemetery has less than 20 graves and we were struck by the number of them that were children. The high step to the gate has been shortened by the use of a tombstone as a step. Mathias Schmidt is mentioned in the info about Crabapple School below. Can you find his grave here? AND, can you find the art shown on the right?


Crossword:  3 Across

‘Geb” is for born. ______ is for died.







Directions: When you are finished prowling the cemetery, follow the dirt road back to Lower Crabapple Road and turn left. Very soon you will see the ghost town of Crabapple on your left. Pull in next to the old school, which is now the Crabapple Community Center.

Google Map


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Crabapple School

"When German immigrants settled in the Crabapple area, many parents were eager to donate land so a school could be built near their homes. Two families, Crockett Riley and Mathias Schmidt, were extremely anxious to give the land for a school, so it was decided to have a foot race to see who would have the privilege. Mathias Schmidt, a farmer, won the race, and the school was built on land he then donated. The families donated their labor to erect a school building of native limestone, which opened in 1878. There was only one teacher to teach all grades. The highest enrollment was at the turn of the century with about 40 students. Teachers’ salaries ranged from $80.00 per month in the 1920’s to $250.00 in the early 1950’s."

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Crabapple - a ghost town

The Crabapple community today consists of the church, community building, brush arbor and one other structure. Isolated and off the beaten path, it can be great picnic spot. Crabapple is on Crabapple Creek and was originally settled sometime in the mid-1800s by settlers that were mostly of German origin. During the 1880s a Lutheran congregation was founded and in 1897 St. John’s Lutheran Church was built. The Crabapple post office operated from 1894 to 1910. No population was reported for the community in 2000..... except maybe for ghosts?



Directions: From Crabapple, head back the way you came on Lower Crabapple Road. (See map.) After about 3 1/4 miles, look for Eckert Rd and turn left. There is a sign for Rabke’s Meats there. Rabke’s Meats is about a mile down Eckert Rd. after crossing a couple of creeks.

Google Map

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Rabke’s Table Ready Meats (

Ahhh, smell the wood smoke in the air! Rabke’s began in the 1950’s as a family owned turkey hatchery, slaughter, and processing operation for the sale of fresh and smoked turkey products. Today, it has evolved into a catering, retail, and deer processing business. They might not be there, so It’s probably easier to order by calling, but poke your nose in, anyway!


Crossword:  6 Down

It’s certifiably ‘A Texas __________ Ranch’!




Directions: From Rabke’s, continue on Eckert Road for almost 4 miles to Hwy 16 and the small town of Eckert. On your way, after about 2.4 miles, don’t miss the metal tree at the Waight Ranch! ALSO, don’t mess with the lambs you see on the way, or the guard llama will get ya!

Google Map




Eckert, TX (from

Once named Nebo after nearby Mount Nebo, the town began when several families built around their Mount Zion church in the mid 1870s. When Wilhelm Rudolph Eckert applied for a post office, he modestly requested the name Eckert, Texas and the name was granted in 1903. In just twenty-two years the population skyrocketed to 100. By 1933 it was down to a mere 15 people, but still the town held its ground. By the mid 1960s Eckert had a population of seven. (Judging by the painted flag, at least one of them is proud to be a Texan!)




Map of Highway 16 and The Willow City Loop

Willow City Loop
The two-lane road travels 13 miles through canyons that were sliced by tranquil creeks. Hilltop views will take your breath away. Travel through meadows painted with bluebonnets or granite rock protrusions. You’ll feel like you’re on a Disney movie set!


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Directions: FIRST, if you are hungry or thirsty, take a look at the map and find the Knot in the Loop Saloon. We’ll take you there at the end of the trip, but you can always switch things around! After you finish exploring Eckert (or eating), head north on Highway 16. In a little over 1 1/4 miles from Eckert, watch for the Bell Mountain Vineyards sign on your right. Turn right to go to the winery.

Google Map



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Bell Mountain Winery

Crossword:  22 Across

If you’re in trouble, you’ll want to get out of me.
But on this road, it’s just fine for me to be lazy. I am the _________.
(Take a second and notice the objects on the sign with me.)


From web site: “Located on the slopes of Bell Mountain, first identified on the U.S. Geological map of 1885, the area was designated by the Federal government in 1986 as Texas’ first winegrowing area (AVA). The vineyards of select and classic European wine varieties are set on sandy-loam soils, replete with rich minerals, and blessed with a moderate climate thus insuring superior fruit development and wines of distinctive character.”

The winery is only open on Saturdays, so, if it’s not Saturday, you may just have to stop at the gate and look. If it IS open, be sure to only take a tiny sip of the wine right now. You’re going to need to be alert on the winding Willow City Loop that’s ahead!


Directions: Turn around at the winery and head back to Hwy 16. Take a right on Hwy 16 and head north. As you follow Hwy 16, read the blurb below. After about 4 1/4 miles, turn right on the Willow City Loop road.

Google Map

Along Highway 16

If you notice Hickory Springs Road on your right, a ranch for sale was described by a local realtor as: “...beautiful views; 455’ change in elevation; varying terrain from rolling country to large mountain; coastal field area; large pond; dammed creek with large lake; granite outcroppings......”

Are you still on the lookout for that art on the road? Did you spot the Texas shape off to the left along Highway 16? It’s on the other side of a pond just before Hickory Springs Road.


Directions: You will be following the Willow City Loop for about 13 miles until you reach Willow City. Remember this... The residents along the loop seem fine with sight-seeing traffic as long it keeps moving. However, the area ranchers don’t appreciate cars blocking the road and the no-parking signs along the road are enforced. Be careful, and enjoy the scenery!


Willow City Loop

The 13 miles of winding road will travel east from Hwy 16 and then will bend south towards Willow City. The scenery is breathtaking any time of the year and is particularly awe inspiring during wildflower season in the spring. The narrow, two-lane road travels through wonderful canyons that were cut by the creeks you’ll see. In between meadows filled with flowers, cactus, and deer are hilltop views that are stunning. Drive slowly, watch for other cars, and just drink it all in! (The scenery, I mean!)


Crossword:  18 Down

Sometimes they say we’re loose.
But that’s not true while we’re stuck above E.G. Buie.
The 2 of us are _______.


Crossword:  11 Down

I’m under the JML brand..
And seem to be mispelled.
I am the Pizza ______.




Directions: In When the Willow City Loop intersects with FM 1323, you will be in Willow City. Go a short ways until you see Harry’s Store. Pull in there.

Google Map

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Take me back to my sweet Texas home.



Willow City - From Handbook of Texas Online:
“The earliest recorded settler before the Civil War was a slaveholding Baptist preacher reported to harbor a strong dislike for the neighboring Germans. Sometime after the war a group of settlers came to Willow Creek and founded one of the few Gillespie County communities settled by English-speakers rather than Germans. These early settlers traded mostly in Austin because they preferred dealing with other Anglo-Americans rather than with the Germans in nearby Fredericksburg. The town prospered and gained an early reputation as a criminal hangout. The post office opened in 1877 and was named Willow until 1887, when it changed to Willow City. The town had two teachers as early as 1881 and one of them had to wrestle a six-gun away from an angry student. In 1885 a Methodist congregation was organized, although a church was not built until 1900. Willow City received telephone service in 1893. In 1904 the population was estimated at 132, and by 1915 Willow City had three general stores, a drugstore, two blacksmiths, and a cotton gin. The population declined during the first half of the twentieth century, to 100 in 1925 and to forty in 1939. During the 1940s it climbed again, reaching sixty by 1949, and then it fluctuated between a low of seventeen in 1964 and a high of eighty-five in 1968. In 1970 the population was estimated at seventy-five, where it remained through 2000.”




Directions: Leave the Harry’s Store parking lot by turning left onto the road. Go a short ways and turn left onto FM 1323. Watch for the Willow City School on your right.


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Willow City School (From

“The school was built in 1905 and consolidated in 1961. Some students brought lunch in half-pint jars with their names carved on the lids. There was always a designated place where lunches were stored. Lunches consisted of homemade bread, boiled eggs, butter and jelly bread, headcheese or kochkäse (cooked cheese), and dried meat or sausage, in addition to fruit and cookies.”



Directions: From the Willow City School, continue west on FM 1323. In just under 2 1/2 miles, watch for the Knot In The Loop Saloon on your left. Pull in there.


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Knot In The Loop Saloon

It’s not just a saloon. We loved their hamburgers, the GOOD kind! From the web site: “Part Wild West-O-Rama, from the moment you walk in, the down home feeling and friendly people will get you set just right. Wander around, check out the walls, the rafters, toss a dollar on the ceiling... It’s all so rustic/eccentric, tong in chic, it’s a feast for the eyes. So stop by, sip a cold one and have fun. Knot in the Loop was started in 2002 , by 2 folks who just wanted a good bar to have a drink in. Tired of slow bartenders, crude customers and dirty bathrooms, we believed we could build the best Saloon in the country. We were almost right, so if occasionally the restrooms are crude, the customers slow, and the bartenders dirty, please bear with us, its a work in progress.”





Directions: From the saloon, continue on FM 1323 until you reach Hwy 16. Take a left and take Hwy 16 back to Fredericksburg (about 13 miles).



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Thank you. We hope your life is always rich with adventure!


See products related to this trip below.


For answers to the crossword puzzle, please email:


P. S. I would be thrilled to hear about your adventures if you try this route!

Carol A. King

Deluxe Full Color 50 Page Printed Day Trip Guide:  This beautiful spiral bound version of the day trip guide is designed to be kept as a keepsake of your adventure, OR will make a wonderful gift for your friends and loved ones.  It is printed on glossy durable card stock in full, rich color.

NOTE:  The Zazzle order page will refer to this as a calendar because we used their spiral calendar format to design this version.  It is not a calendar.  You can click and review every page of this product before ordering.

Deluxe Version:  Click the photo below to view product, pricing for different sizes or bulk orders, and to order.

Postcards Related to Day Trip:  

Before your trip, order some glossy postcards to send to your friends and family while you're on the road.  OR, after the trip, order postcards as keepsakes of your favorite places on the trip.  Click one of the photos in the flash panel on the right to preview or order. 

NOTE TO RESELLERS:  Postcards CAN be ordered in bulk at reduced rates.


Notecards Related to Day Trip: 

Before your trip, order some glossy note cards to send to your friends and family while you're on the road.  OR, after the trip, order them as keepsakes of your favorite places on the trip.  Click one of the photos in the flash panel on the right to preview or order. 

NOTE TO RESELLERS:  Note cards CAN be ordered in bulk at reduced rates.

Calendars Related to Day Trip: 

Calendars with beautiful glossy photos make wonderful keepsakes of the trip, OR gifts for your family and friends.  Click photo on the right to preview or order.

NOTE TO RESELLERS:  Calendars CAN be ordered in bulk at reduced rates.

Wall Prints Related to Day Trip: 

High Quality Prints of select photos from the day trip are available.  They can be ordered in various sizes and styles, framed or not.  Click the links on the right to review or order.


Fredericksburg Wall Prints

Crabapple Wall Prints

Willow City (and loop) Wall Prints

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