HISTORY OF Enchanted Rock
by Marla Moss Rechenthin
Owner of The Moss Ranch at Enchanted Rock
7502 Ranch Road 965 Llano, TX 78643
I grew up at Enchanted Rock. My parents owned the 2300 acre property which was a family run tourist attraction from the early 1950‘s to the late 1970‘s. We lived in the house right in front of Enchanted Rock on RR 965. It is now a park ranger’s residence and you can recognize it by the red metal roof. My parents were Charles and Ruth Moss. My dad’s great grandfather was Mathew Mark Moss who fought in the battle of San Jacinto in 1836. He received a land grant for his pay from the Republic of Texas. The land grant was located near Oxford in Llano County. Mathew Mark Moss’s son Charles Tate Moss (my dad’s grandfather) bought thousands of acres of ranch land in Llano County including Enchanted Rock. My dad’s uncle actually inherited the Enchanted Rock property but had a failing business and to keep the property in the family my dad bought it right after World War II when he came home from serving in the Army stationed in the states during the war.
According to the story, my parents told me my dad had $2,000.00 and was the only one in the family who had enough money at the time to purchase the land from his uncle. He partnered with the Faltin family from Comfort to purchase the land for $35.00 per acre. My dad ran cattle on the property but it didn’t become a family run tourist attraction until the early 1950’s when my parents married and decided to build a house right in front of Enchanted Rock close to the road. It was a small one bedroom house and didn’t really look like a family residence and as my dad put it “people thought it was a beer joint and stopped by to get something to drink”. Soon people stopped and asked if they could climb Enchanted Rock so my parents eventually realized what a treasure they had in their backyard and opened it to the public. They had a small concession stand in the park which was located directly behind our house and down the hill close to Sandy Creek. My parents would greet people as they drove into the park, pull up to the concession stand, and pay 50 cents to climb “The Rock.” They could also purchase soft drinks, candy, ice cream, and Indian souvenirs.
On January 1st 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson and the first Lady climbed Enchanted Rock. I went with my dad to meet them as they were walking on the rock. I was 10 years old but I remember it well and I regret not having a photo of it because when I went back to school after the holidays and tried to tell the story to my classmates of course no one believed me.
During the mid to late 1970s people came with big metal frame kites and wanted to hang glide off the rock to the creek. My dad had them sign a waiver and let them glide off the top of the rock sometimes landing on the trees instead of in the creek bed. Of course that “sport” was dangerous and that phase didn’t last long. Then the mountain climbers started repelling off the back side of Enchanted Rock which is still a very popular sport.
My parents sold Enchanted Rock to The Nature Conservancy in 1978. Lady Bird Johnson met with my parents and helped to negotiate the sale. My parents wanted to make sure that Enchanted Rock would be preserved and not commercialized or ever quarried. So it became a Texas State Natural Area instead of a Texas State Park. Then the property was turned over to Texas Parks and Wildlife and opened to the public by 1980. Only the land north of RR 965 was purchased and the Moss and Faltin families retained the 500+ acres south of the paved road. All of the land has been divided and sold by the families except the 107 acres I have kept which has now become The Moss Ranch at Enchanted Rock. It has always been my dream to open a family business and share my beautiful view of The Rock and once again relive some of my childhood memories.
HISTORY OF Enchanted Rock
Excerpts from the book "Facts and Fiction about Enchanted Rock"
Written by my mother, Ruth Moss
Copyright April 1956
Each year thousands of tourists from all over North America visit Texas’ Stone Mountain which is second – and but slightly second – to Georgia’s and possessed of a glamorous and adventuresome saga that dates back to the days history cannot penetrate. The mammoth Enchanted Rock, rising in a slow curve from the wooded hills between Llano and Fredericksburg, is visible for many miles in all directions. And its eminence gives a sweep of vision for 20 miles. So huge is the rock, that, even under its shadow, visitors misjudge is proportions, and innocently start out for a breakfast appetizer climb that, before it is ended, consumes most of the morning. You can’t estimate how large it is because there is nothing near by to use for a measuring stick. Small trees growing in its crevices look like grass and weeds from below: the great vultures that police its barren slopes appear to be diminutive crows. The seemingly smooth surface conceals entrances to dark and tortuous caves far below masses of crumpled granite, which have slid form their foundations at some remote date before the memory of white men or of the Indians who feared and told tales of the Rock. One of these caves has its entrance on the summit of the Rock while the exit brings the explorer back to daylight far below on the back side.
The Rock, a gigantic dome of the famous “Texas Pink” granite, covers 640 acres and is estimated to be 500 feet high. The climb from the foot of the mountain to the pinnacle of its massive expanse is about a mile.
WHY THE ROCK IS CALLED “ENCHANTED”?
The name “Enchanted Rock” goes back into the unwritten chapters of Spanish and Indian history and tells the story of aboriginal rites and ceremonials, of wars and loves and treasure seekers: stories of which we have but fragments enduring as he Rock itself.
Unforgettable as a landmark, and invested with the glamour of gold-seekers’ stories, it impressed early visitors to Texas and inspired newspaper articles in New York, Kentucky, and other distant states more than a century ago. A Kentuckian in 1834 wrote back to Louisville from the Colorado River Settlement of a “large rock of metal which has for many years been considered a wonder. It is supposed to be platinum. The Indians have held it sacred for centuries, and go there once a year to worship it. they will not permit any white person to approach it. It is almost impossible to make an impression on it with chisel and hammer. when struck it gives forth a ringing sound which can be heard miles around.” He states that their party was unable to break off any specimens to bring home. In an item appearing in the New York Mirror” of October 20.1838, a traveler, lately returned from a prospecting tour in the San Saba country, tells of having found an “Enchanted” or “Holy” mountain on the upper waters of the Sandy- beyond all doubts the Enchanted Rock of other accounts The traveler reports that “the Comanches regard this — hill with religious veneration, and Indian pilgrims frequently assemble from the remotest borders of the region to perform their paynim rites upon its summit.
Samuel C. Reid Jr. in a book published in 1848, The Scouting Expeditions of McCulloch’s Texas Rangers, says in connection with a scouting trip that Captain Jack Hays had made into the unsettles vicinity of the Enchanted Rock. “We are unable to give to the reader the traditional cause why this place was so named, but nevertheless, the Indians had a great awe, amounting almost to a reverence for it, and would tell many legendary tales connected with it and the fate of a few brave warriors, the last of a tribe now extinct, who defended themselves there for many years as in a strong castle, against the attacks of their hostile brethren. But ever since, the “Enchanted Rock” has been looked upon as the exclusive property of the phantom warriors. This is one of the many tales which the Indians tell concerning it. Some of the superstitions connected with the Rock grew out of the Indians to report that mysterious flames danced on its summit on moonlight nights. The unromantic hand of science has probed these fancies, however, and points out that the weird dance of the flames takes place only on nights after a rain, when the moon shines fully on the rounding sides of the rock. These nocturnal spirit fires of the Indians, and the glitter of the mica by day. combined to evoke the awe and veneration of the Comanches. Although this fear of the rock led the savages to sacrifice living victims in attempts to placate the spirit that dwelt on the summit, it also makes the place a sanctuary for hard-pressed rides among the whites, if their ponies were sure-footed enough to scale the heights.
The Indians also believed the Rock to be enchanted because of the eerie sounds emitting from the huge dome at night and the peculiar sound made in walking on it. The noise made in walking on the rock has been described as exactly as if one were walking on a thin crust over a cavern. The sounds at night have most often been heard after a hot day. Geologists accredit this peculiarity of sound to change in the temperature of the rock. A cool night following a hot day causes the granite to expand and contract, thereby emitting a creaking sound.
A GEOLOGY REPORT ON THE ROCK
After several years of study of the Enchanted Rock area, Dr. Robert M Hutchinson, Instructor in Geology at the University of Texas, submitted the following report in 1953: “The Enchanted Rock is a dome of granite which is a moderate orange pink in color. It is the largest and highest of several such domes which are arranged in a gently curved line along the West side of Sandy Creek. These domes extend for a distance of about a mile. The granite is among some of the oldest igneous rock known in North America. It dated back to what geologists call the Precambrian era. The rock was formed deep in the crust of the earth at lest a billion years ago, but it was not visible to the eyes of man until weathering and erosion had removed many thousands of feet of overlying rocks. This took many millions of years. Enchanted Rock dome probably has been formed about as we see it today within the last million years.
“Nowhere else in Texas is there a granite mountain of such comparable height or size. “The granite is made of pinkish micro-line feldspar intimately intermixed with grayish-white plagloelase feldspar, watery looking clear quartz and brownish, black flakes of biotite mica. Rock of a similar composition and texture is quarried extensively near the town of Kingsland in Llano County and is called “Llano pink” granite.
“Weathering and erosion of the rocks in this section of the country has affected the granite less that other rocks, especially those east of Sandy Creek. Throughout the many years of its erosive history, the greater resistance to weathering and erosion of the granite has been mainly responsible for Enchanted Rock standing out as prominently as it does today. “The broad curved steeply sloping sides of “Enchanted Rock” makes a graceful picture silhouetted against the skyline. Large curved sheets of granite have separated and pulled loose from the main mass of granite. These are gradually being broken up by the weathering processes. Hundreds of granite blocks are scattered about on the shapes of the mountain and are in various stages of reduction by their processes.
“Enchanted Rock is a magnificent product of Nature’s processes. The graceful sweep of its curved outline and the massiveness of its size will yet endure throughout many generations of men and for many thousands of years of geologic time yet to come.”