First Train to Boerne Over Northwestern Extension

A Pleasant Ride Over a Beautiful Country: Day Spent in Romantic Hills Around Boerne

The San Antonio Daily Express

March 15, 1887

Those who had an opportunity of going out of San Antonio on the first train to Boerne over the Northwest Extension of the San Antonio & Aransas Pass road, realized perhaps for the first time that the four-horse coach is a thing of the past. It has gone west where most needed, and San Antonians now travel luxuriantly in every direction by rail. With the departure of the stage coach San Antonio also bids an affectionate farewell to the old stage driver, a character much better known a few years ago than today. He was the boss once, and at a not very remote time when the prancing blacks or grays, "four-in-hand," danced into town from almost every direction, the driver was no mean character and was looked up to with as much deference as is usually accorded to the mayor of a country village. But he has gone now, his glory is departed, and the places which knew him once will know him no more forever. And there are none to mourn for him. In fact, the comfort and convenience of travel in a modern palatial railway coach over that afforded by the old time "Concord," leaving out of account the saving of time and money and the wear and tear of both body and mind, makes the stage drivers' demise and the advent of the iron horse in its place a blessing to suffering humanity. San Antonians think so, and all Boerne is now ready to echo "amen."

Among those who took advantage of the special train last Saturday to spend Sunday in the romantic and everlasting hills around Boerne were Dr. F. Herff and wife, Dr. Adolph Herff, wife and children; Mr. Ferd. Herff, wife and children; Dr. John Herff and son, Miss Clarke, Mr. August Herff, Mr. William Heuermann and family, Captain Geroge S. Deats, the old reliable and only original "One-Horse Farmer" of Elk Horn; Mr. Eugene Lacoste, Mr. Otto Guenther, Mrs. Sarah Reed, Miss Reed, Mrs. Dan Lewis, Mrs. Strobeck, Mr. Eugene Staffel, Mr. Eugene Laue, Mr. Ben Andrews and a number of others, making about fifty in all. Many more were expected but others doubtless concluded it would be best to wait and go over on the Thursday excursion, on which date there will be a grand barbecue and unlimited free beer.

At 4:30, 10 minutes behind time, the train started with Mr. T. W. Watts in charge as conductor, and Mr. Nuflin at the throttle of No. 11, the "Martin & Schryver" engine. Leaving out of the account the delay at the Balcones, in order to clear the way for the returning construction train, the trip was made in good time through as beautiful country as one would wish to see in a whole day's journey. The romantic scenery around Leon Springs, where there are lofty mountains and green valleys, was particularly admired by the travelers, many of whom had never been so far west of San Antonio before.

At Leon Springs, about the only suitable point on the route, on account of water, the Aransas Pass company expects to build a town. The site is a good one in every respect, with a flourishing country for miles around, and may one day not very remotely, either, because a busy, industrious village, furnishing more business for the merchants and manufacturers of San Antonio. One very noticeable feature of the trip was the superiority of the road bed. Though a new one just completed, it is as smooth as can be, making the short journey altogether one of rare pleasure and comfort. The … advent of the civilizing iron horse was made about … when a majority of the citizens of the town were found ready to welcome their guests, but more doubtless to see the puffing locomotive and hear the steam whistle for the first time in their lives. It was a great occasion, and as such was duly appreciated, although the lateness of the hour, no doubt, alone prevented our reception with a brass band at the head of the local militia company. The depot grounds are located about one mile east of town in an excellent situation for convenience and traffic, and the transfer of passengers and baggage is made from there in buses and hacks, though on this occasion many of the visitors were compelled to walk to town. It is the intention of the company to build one of its handsomest depots at once. It will be under the management of Mr. Theodore Grice, a young gentleman who has had large experience in the railroad business and has already made himself popular with the people of the village. At present he carries his office with him and does business wherever he finds it.

Boerne is situated among a dozen or more beautiful and romantic hills and from her throne of beauty rules Kendall County, 31 miles distant from San Antonio, by railroad count, and it costs you but the small sum of 95 cents to get to it and enjoy a whiff of the purest air God ever made for man or woman, either. The burg is principally noted for the unlimited quantity and excellent quality of its ozone, whatever that is, its unsurpassing beauty, its beer (San Antonio variety), its public spirited citizens, pretty girls, good hotels, for being the country home of the Herff family and the "One-Horse Farmer." Another thing your correspondent forgot to mention as among the noted institutions of Boerne, and that is the keno room. Cards are three for a quarter, and the game is played in the same old way. All sit around a rough pine table deeply absorbed in the numbers called out by the dealer, until one man yells "keno," and others say "Oh, h-ll!" only they say it in German and it doesn't sound so bad to English ears polite.

There is much of interest in and around Boerne for the stranger who may climb the rugged hills and drink in nature's magnificence in all its original undefiled beauty until he is footsore and weary, travel for two miles on the principal and only street in the city, drink the cold water of the iron and sulphur spring four miles distant, explore the hidden wonders of the caves and lofty bluffs along the Cibolo, or sit on the broad plazza of the Boerne Hotel and expand the lungs with deep draughts of ozone, or watch the slow and painful steps of the poor consumptive invalid who generally comes to West Texas when it is everlastingly too late for all the ozone in the world to do him any good.

Through the kindness of Capt. Brown, the livery man, your correspondent visited the iron and sulphur spring and tasted of its invigorating water. It is said to have some very superior medicinal qualities. It is kept in poor condition, however, without any care or attention, and only awaits the arrival of the enterprising Yankee to make a big "bonanza" out of it.

In the afternoon, after making the acquaintance of a number of prominent citizens, a pleasant and entertaining visit was made to the beautiful and substantial country home of Dr. F. Herff, in company with the entire family, when the afternoon was spent in riding over the doctor's vast possessions and examining the wonderful bluffs along the Cibolo river, where the water suddenly disappears in the ground, to rise no more. One noted feature in the doctor's pasture, besides these mysterious water caverns, is the Melakoff mountain, which rises to a height of several hundred feet above the fertile valley and affords perhaps the finest view in all the country. The residence is a handsome two-story, hard rock house, containing almost everything to make life worth living, and here it is that the doctor and his family, together with all his grandchildren go to spend a large portion of each summer. Altogether, Boerne offers a desireable place for excursionists, and it can be made one of the most popular health resorts in the South, if her people will exert themselves a little and make her advantages known to the great outside world. Nature has been most lavish in her gifts to Boerne and Kendall County. The ozone is there, but her people must do the rest.

The return journey was begun at 7 a. m. Monday and was made in good shape without accident in just two hours. The next excursion to Boerne will take place on Thursday, on which occasion there will be a grand barbecue.