Central Texas is experiencing a drought and lake water levels are receding. The water level at Lake Buchanan has gone down so much that it revealed an old town – people can now walk through the town and see the foundation of the town’s schoolhouse as well as the tombstone of Johnny Parks, a 1-year old who passed away in 1889. As reported by Jacqueline Ingles:
LLANO COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – Drought has Lake Buchanan revealing some of its deepest secrets. The town of Old Bluffton and parts of the cemetery last seen in the 1930s have re-emerged now that water levels have dropped by 30 feet.
This is allowing Alfred Hallmark, a local historian and a descendant of Old Bluffton founders, to walk through the town.
“It is a rare opportunity to see how our ancestors lived,” explained Hallmark, who has visited the site three times since the 1960s.
Extreme drought in Central Texas has actually resulted in this town resurfacing seven times. Typically, it lies beneath 10 to 20 feet of water. As of December, Lake Buchanan is down 30 feet — exposing never-before-seen artifacts and ruins.
Old Bluffton was founded in 1853. Ranching and farming was the way of life for the 50 families who called the town home. Then, in 1937, when the Colorado River was dammed, settlers were forced to move.
The latest re-emergence of this town turned up a tombstone belonging to Johnny Parks, a 1-year-old, who passed away in 1889. The last time the tombstone was visible was in 1937.
“You learn something new every time,” Hallmark said.
Parks’ body, along with 394 other bodies in the cemetery, were dug up and relocated to the new Bluffton settlement five miles away. There, all of the deceased were given new tombstones.
Still, the idea of seeing a ghost town and cemetery is drawing spectators. Vanishing Texas River Cruise tour director Tim Mohan brings tourists to the area by boat three times a week.
“They are so excited,” he said. “There are dozens of things unearthed.”
Mohan said tourists are respectful of not picking up artifacts. The Lower Colorado River Authority has put up signs around the area warning people it is unlawful to take artifacts from the area.
Tourists are currently able to see the foundation of a former school, a water well, cemetery, a cotton gin and the foundation of an old corner store that includes a Texaco gas pump.
I’ve always had trouble with graves of very young children…I always wonder what caused their death? What happened to little Johnny Parks? Does anyone know?