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Texas | Columns

"Hindsights" by Michael Barr

Looking back at
Waring

Michael Barr

A visitor to Waring might think the lights are on, but nobody's home. That's because Waring, near Comfort in Kendall County, is 6 miles north of I-10 and doesn't get many tourists. But Waring was once a busy place and a popular destination for travelers.

The area around Waring has had some geographic importance for centuries. Waring lies northwest of Spanish Pass - a narrow path through the hills and a natural gateway into the Hill Country. In the 1870s the Overland Stage built a remount station there. A road through the area was one of the main thoroughfares from San Antonio to the communities along the Pedernales and the Llano.

The town of Waring began in 1887 when engineers plotted a route for the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad between San Antonio and Kerrville. The route went near Boerne, through Spanish Pass and into the Guadalupe River Valley.

An Irishman named Robert Percival Maxwell Waring owned a ranch along the Guadalupe, and he donated land to the railroad for a whistle stop and a town site. He named the town Waringford after his ancestral home near Belfast, in Northern Ireland. Most people called the town Waring, and in 1901, the short name became official.

The railroad built a depot at Waring. On October 9, 1889, Mr. Waring donated lot #1, Block 15, for a school. The building still stands.

In 1892, August Offer came to Waring via Sisterdale. Offer, a man of some means, saw economic opportunity in the new railroad town. He built a store and a saloon near the depot.

TX - Waring depot
Waring depot
Photo courtesy Michael Barr, March 2017
TX - Waring schoolhouse
Waring schoolhouse
Photo courtesy Michael Barr, March 2017
TX - Waring school outhouse
Waring school outhouse
Photo courtesy Michael Barr, March 2017
TX - Waring General Store
Waring General Store
Photo courtesy Michael Barr, March 2017
TX Waring General Store
Waring General Store side view
Photo courtesy Michael Barr, March 2017

No one worked harder than August Offer to put Waring on the map. He built a cotton gin. He dammed up the Guadalupe and built a grist mill. He built a lumber yard and a livery stable. He started the first telephone company in the Hill Country. He was the postmaster. He built a camp yard - a kind of frontier truck stop and RV park - for freighters and travelers to spend the night. In his spare time he ran two farms.

With road traffic and business from the railroad, Waring started to grow. In time the town had several stores, a saloon, a dance hall, a hotel, a boarding house and a rock quarry. The San Antonio City Hall was built of stone quarried at Waring and shipped to San Antonio by rail.

TX - San Antonio City Hall
San Antonio City Hall built of stone quarried at Waring
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
Waring TX map
Courtesy Texas Transportation Museum, Hugh Hemphill, Director.
www.txtransportationmuseum.org

Waring became the first real convenience stop after the railroad left San Antonio for Kerrville. The train usually spent 15 to 20 minutes in Waring, coming and going - plenty of time to get a beer and do a little shopping.

Then city folks discovered the beauty of the Guadalupe River Valley and turned Waring into a tourist town. Vacationers and weekenders came to fish and swim in the river. Others came just to relax and enjoy the fantastic scenery. The Guadalupe, its jade green waters shaded by a canopy of tall Cypress trees, is one of the most beautiful rivers on earth.

In 1917 the Fredericksburg and Northern Railroad laid tracks from Fredericksburg Junction, near Waring, north to Fredericksburg. Soon after that the highway through Spanish Pass and Waring was widened and improved.

map

Click on image to view map
Courtesy Texas Transportation Museum, Hugh Hemphill, Director.
www.txtransportationmuseum.org

But along the way, Waring's destiny as a boomtown suffered a series of setbacks. On February 2, 1895, R. P. M. Waring died of pneumonia at his old home in Waringford. He had been called back to Ireland to administer the large estate of a brother who had recently died.

Then workers built a new highway, between Fredericksburg and Comfort, bypassing Waring by several miles. The Old San Antonio Road was the first paved highway running north into Gillespie County.

August Offer saw the handwriting on the wall. He moved to San Antonio in 1922.

Waring still had the train, but in time it went away - put out of business by cars, trucks, good roads and cheap gasoline. The last train to Fredericksburg came through Waring in 1942. Rail service between San Antonio and Kerrville stopped in 1970.

Waring has been hidden away ever since, waiting quietly to be rediscovered.


Michael Barr
"Hindsights"
April 1 , 2017 Column

Sources:
"The New Town of Waringford," The San Antonio Daily Express, February 14, 1888.
"Death of R. P. M. Waring," The Galveston Daily News, February 7, 1895.
"Ghost Town Lives," San Antonio Light, September 7, 1958.
"Accident Fatal to August Offer," San Antonio Express, April 23, 1932.
The Handbook of Texas.


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