I have always wanted to stop in Luling to look at the old mill on the San Marcos River but I’m usually in too much of a hurry to get home. It’s right off SH 80 and I pass it whenever I come back from Manor on my way to take Savanna home in Corpus Christi.
Travelling back with Bob, there was no rush to get back to the reality of work; stopping at the old Zedlar Mill extended our week-end away from home. The mill was active for 80 years before it fell into disrepair in the 1970’s.
Luling is one of my favorite pass through towns anyway. The first time we passed through it on the way to New Braunfels, I think, GE pointed out the water tower and the oil pump jacks. The town prides itself on the local watermelon crop and has a yearly festival in late June.
I always intend to go but intentions and actions never match. I have a hard time making it to the Aransas Pass Shrimporee or the Fulton Oysterfest and they are within 20 miles of my front door. The Guiness World Record for spitting was set at the 1989 Thump: 68′ 9 and 1/8″. I tried spitting a watermelon seed and made it 7′ so I’m impressed.
The town is also known for its oilfield history. Luling was established in 1874 and hit the big time when oil was discovered in 1922. Driving through the town, you’ll notice an odor that the Luling Chamber of Commerce calls “the smell of money.” I call it just smelly. The smell of gas hangs in the atmosphere on some days; on others, it’s barely noticeable.
There are 200 working oil pump jacks in town. That was one of the other things GE pointed out to us. The City commissioned an artist to decorate some of the jacks.
We made it to the Zedlar Mill before we backtracked so I could show Bob the finer points of Luling. The mill served as a wheat and corn mill, a lumber mill, a cotton gin, and provided the power to generate electricity for the City of Luling until 1924. The city started a restoration at the site in 2007.
I’d never appreciated how a mill works. I have this tendency to just accept things at face value and not question HOW or WHY they work. Bob, on the other hand, constantly asks what things are for and when they were built, why they work a certain way. I didn’t realize how uninformed I am about landscape and architectural features between Portland and Manor until we drove up to GE’s house together. I think I said “I don’t know” at least 10 times and was having to invent different ways to say it. “That’s a good question, Bob” or “Oh! I’ve always wondered about that, too” which is a lie.
That curiosity is one more thing I like about Bob.
Bob showed me how the river was dammed (I spelled that damned before I realized the river really wasn’t DAMN-ed) and a diversion channel dug which used a portion of the river power to power the mill. It’s a beautiful scene.
I got caught up looking at the Texas Paddling Trail literature at the mill museum. The Texas Parks and Wildlife is promoting canoe trips all over the state. (The website, in case you are interested, is http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/boat/paddlingtrails. Seriously, go to it. There are a whole bunch of paddling trails in Texas.)
You can rent a canoe, get in the river off US 90, and paddle down the river until you get to the dam. It’s a 6 mile paddle and the kids who had just finished it when we got there said it’s fun but the river’s low enough that they had to carry the canoe several places. When the river’s running full, it’s a 2 hours trip; right now, it’s closer to 4 hours.
The folks who rent canoes do a drop off and pick up deal for you. I want to go but I’m pretty sure I’ll have to lift weights and do airplanes with my flab wings in order to be able to paddle that far. I rely on Bob’s strength a whole bunch but I think a 6 mile paddle (for him) and a free ride (for me) might be asking too much.