Monday, September 5, 2011


FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS - When he had become a Texas Ranger he’d been sure that he would have stories to tell his grandchildren. As he spurred his horse on yet again, and felt the animal fight for purchase on the hard ground he realized that if he didn’t act quickly there would be no children or grandchildren to thrill with his adventures. 
Looking for a pair of well-known cattle rustlers he had accidentally stumbled upon a group of Comanche; they were young, angry and restless, clearly not interested in hearing his reasons for being on what they considered to be their land.  Outnumbered he had no choice now, but to urge his tiring horse faster and faster toward the setting sun.

In the dimness of the approaching dusk he could make out what looked like a rocky hill.  Horse and rider changed direction and headed straight for the huge dark shape as if they were of one mind.  The Ranger marveled as his well-trained horse managed the incredible steep climb straight up, even as he realized that the hill was not so much rocky, as it was in fact one giant rock.  Seeing a depression he dove off into it, and turned taking aim with his rifle. The Comanche had stopped at the bottom of the rock hill and now he could almost feel them staring at him. Straining his eyes, as the light grew even more faint he watched as his pursuers seemed to engage in a brief discussion and then departed back in the direction they had come.

 The Ranger’s heart leaped into his throat.  Dare he believe his good luck?  He sat, resting his rifle against his knee. If he ventured from in his current position then his new acquaintances might be able to way-lay him in the darkness.  They were undoubtedly very familiar with this area and that would work to their advantage. He resolved to wait where he was until sunup figuring the light gave him a better chance to fight, rather than trying to flee in the murky twilight.

His jet-black horse stood almost invisible next to him in what was now total darkness.  The sun had set, and the moon had yet to rise.  He gave his remarkable animal a compassionate pat then searched his pockets for his rolling tobacco.  Hopefully a smoke would keep him awake if had enough tender to start a small fire.

 Suddenly from behind there came a loud popping sound which startled him so badly he forgot to breath as once again he raised his rifle and prepared to shoot at…nothing.  Nothing was behind him.  Reminded to breath by a burning pain in his chest, the Ranger tried to search the gloom, sure now that the young men had not actually abandoned their chase, but had simply gone around the hill and were now climbing the ridge behind him. His horse shifted his hoofs restlessly and he tried to sooth the uneasy creature with softly spoken words. His eyes scanned the rock ridge above him as he waited for any further signs of his enemies.

A blaze of blue light leapt from the ground directly above him and seemed to shoot upward toward the darkened sky.  The Ranger lowered his rifle and rubbed his eyes. What had he seen?  Again he heard a sudden loud popping sound directly in front of him.  He stared into the gloom and again saw nothing.  By the time the sun re-appeared the Comanche had not returned and the Texas Ranger had a story that no one would ever forget.
Large Rocks at the Enchanted Rock State Park

What the indigence people of the area knew about the huge mass of Rock located 18 miles outside of Fredericksburg was simply to stay away from the stone hill.  The Native Americans had heard the same popping and booming sounds that the Ranger had, they also had seen the flashes of light and had an explanation.  A story was past down through their generations of a Chief who had defied the spirits and attempted to harm his own people.  The spirits living in the rock had drawn the misguided leader into the hillside, leaving in the stony earth an imprint of one moccasin clad foot.

A plaque detailing the story of the Ranger whose horse made the remarkable climb is now affixed roughly halfway up the 425-foot hill now known as Enchanted Rock. Today we know that Enchanted Rock is composed mainly of granite.  In the heat of a sunny Texas day this rock will expand, at night as the massive formation cools the granite contracts causing a popping sound and occasionally strange flashes of light.   This explanation, that you will hear if you ever tour the area located in the beautiful hill county, enlightens us about what the poor Texas Ranger experienced so long ago.  Of course this clarification does not tell us how that very clear footprint came to be set in the solid rock.  Got any ideas? 

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