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  • J.F. Rowan

Lyndon B. Johnson National and State Parks

About an hour north of Boerne Tx., and about 20 miles east of Fredericksburg, is a small town called Stonewall, home of two great historic sites. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park and an adjacent park, The Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site. Yes, they are two separate parks, divided by the Pedernales River. The state park included the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm and part of the Texas Official Longhorn Herd. (If you would like to learn more, click on the underlined links above.)

Area attractions in Stonewall Tx.

Map of the two areas visited. Nice to have the ability to visit two historic parks that were so close. We visited the state park first, then crossed the river and visited the national park (ranch). The drive was about 5 minutes. We did not get to Johnson City for the third portion, maybe next time.

Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm

Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm

Texas Longhorns

Whew! So much to see! A full day could have been spent at the state park alone, but we were able to get plenty of information while we there, taking in some of the lectures from the on-site volunteers dressed in period correct (1900) clothing.

Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm

Paddock Area

Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm

Sheep looking for shade

Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm

Blacksmith Area. Yes, those are real chickens.

Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm

There are several folks that volunteer here to give talks and demonstrations relating to the different chores and tasks that had to be done on a daily basis all without the luxury of having electricity. We listened in on a discussion and demonstration about how milk was managed without the availability of refrigeration. It was too dark inside for photos and flash photos were a bit frowned upon.

We cruised the trails around most of the park, taking in just about all of the displays, exhibits and making a concerted effort to see the Longhorns.

Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm

On the trail exploring a great historic farm. The peepers were peeping and the trees are popping!

The farm itself was home to the midwife who actually delivered LBJ! They have an exhibit building on some of the artifacts from both the farm and LBJ’s history. All in all a great park. Not a state park you can camp within, more like a “day use only” and exhibit.

Now, on to the other park...

Once we finished our tour at the LBJ State Park & Historic Farm, we hopped in the car and took a five-minute drive to the other side of the Pedernales River to LBJ’s National Historic Site (National Park).

LBJ’s National Historic Site (National Park)

The main house"Texas White House"(and presidential pool) on the ranch. We were not allowed inside the house because of "structural integrity issues" brought upon by a shifting foundation. Though President Johnson died in 1973, Lady Byrd stayed in the area until her death in 2007. Fact>Any guess as to how many days the president spent here while he was in office? 490! But he probably got more done here than he would have in Washington.

LBJ’s National Historic Site (National Park)

After the presidents first heart attack, his doctor insisted that Lyndon get more exercise. So, a pool was built. The pool house was later remodeled to include a lap pool for for Lady Bird.

LBJ’s National Historic Site (National Park)

"Flightline" side of the main house. Receiving area for dignitaries that were flown or driven to the ranch.

Celebrity Stones. When you came to the ranch, there was a pretty good chance LBJ made you sign your name in cement before you left. There must have been well over a hundred that we saw. There are others that are in storage and they actually rotate them out from time to time. Astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, and many more. See if you can recognize some of the names.

LBJ’s National Historic Site (National Park)

When you're the president, this is what you buy your daughter for her 18th birthday. 1965 Corvette. Yes, it is still in mint shape.

Photo of the same car. "Luci" Baines being escorted by a secret service agent on her way to school. Is that a pack of cig's on the dash? (Photo credit-The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

The National Park is basically LBJ’s home, ranch, and a private airstrip. growing up in CT., I was fortunate to grow up alongside a private airstrip, but not quite of the same magnitude. This was a 6500-foot asphalt strip complete with a hanger to house a Lockheed VC-140B Jetstar, LBJ’s personal transportation during his years in office.

LBJ’s National Historic Site (National Park)

This is a Lockheed VC-140B Jetstar used by President Johnson. Only 6 of this variation were built by Lockheed. It is hangered at his home, the LBJ National Historic Site. The ranch includes a 6500 foot runway, and "Jet A" Fuel source. He would use it to fly dignitaries to his ranch. The preseident affectionately nicknamed the airplane "AIR FORCE 1/2". Hard to imagine him standing up in it. I don't think the cabin height is more than 5 feet.

Archive photos of the ranch. The right photo shows the proximity of the runway to the house. Runway is 6500 feet and slightly uphill from the house end. I would love to see the performance flight card for a departure and landing!

We viewed the outside of the home, grounds and some of the areas around the ranch itself. I found the telephone recording collection exhibit quite interesting. President Johnson secretly recorded over 1000 telephone messages while in office. It's interesting even after all these years, even some of the recordings have been "redacted" to erase information presumably in the name of national security...or perhaps national blunders. These types of visits always motivate us in finding books for additional reading and research.

In Other News...

Location Update:

We are doing some last minute preparations for our departure on Monday. Looks like we are heading to Inks Lake State Park in the town of Burnet. I was told that the Confederate Air Force has one of it's museums there! If the weather is good, this might be a great photo opportunity.

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