high lonesome

High Lonesome

Living up to my “Back Roads Scholar” title, I go off the beaten track to find tucked-away spots lost to the speeding traveler. Last month, I was headed to Canyon of the Eagles for a camp-out. In Bertram, I turned north to bridge the Russell and North Forks of the San Gabriel River and find a local road at a cemetery. Here I turned east across a rolling short-grass prairie where only some distant cattle and an Aermotor moved. Within a couple miles, the ruins of Black’s Fort appeared on the right near a shallow draw.

If these stones could speak . . .According to the historical marker there, the fortified dwelling has stood here since 1855, built by William Black as a defensive place against raiding Native Americans. Settlers had moved to the area as early as 1848, and frontier Fort Crogan, staffed by U.S. troops, was built in what’s now the town of Burnet.

Take coverThe Army moved west by 1853, even though attacks were still a possibility. Thus, private forts such as this one were not unusual. More recent research suggests that no Comanche battles ever occurred here, so it was likely a just a strong residence until abandoned in 1868.

I attempted to enter Canyon of the Eagles the back way through Lake Victor and Naruna, but the lane past Lookout Mountain is private.  On both legs of this trip, my path crossed the Austin and Texas Central Railroad tracks. They are famous for carrying the stone from Granite Mountain to build the Capitol in the 1880s. More recently, these rails support the Hill Country Flyer of the Austin Steam Train Association in its pleasure trips from Cedar Park to Burnet.