Lake at Enchanted Springs RanchNestled deep in the heart of Texas is a special place which has been cherished by both its inhabitants and visitors for thousands of years. Early Native Americans thought of this beautiful hilly region with its clear flowing spring fed creeks and rivers as an enchanted place. Here Mother Earth had provided the Indians with every necessity of life.

The spring waters attracted game of all sorts to include buffalo, deer, antelope, bear, and turkey. Wild fruits, berries and grains were also abundant. This part of Texas was such a desired location that different tribes (Tonkawa, Lipan Apache and Comanche) would fight each other to gain control of their revered Enchanted Springs Region. Soon, Americans and Europeans would move into the region and Texas Rangers, organized in 1823, would battle the Indians over this prized piece of Texas.

Longhorns at Enchanted Springs Ranch

The longhorn and horse arrived in this area in the 1500’s with the explorers from Spain. Christopher Columbus made his second voyage to Santa Domingo in 1493 and there he dropped off the first of these new inhabitants to America. The longhorns and horses adapted well to New Spain (Mexico and Texas) and over time multiplied to the millions. The horse enabled the Indians to become mobile, fierce fighters and hunters. It was destiny that the horse and buffalo would characterize the Indian way of life just as the horse and longhorn would characterize that of the cowboy.

Vaqueros were the first men to work the growing herds of cattle around the early missions in San Antonio.  Thus, many terms of the cowboy trade originate in the Spanish language.  Well before the big cattle drives would make famous the Texas cowboy, Vaqueros and longhorns were taken to Hawaii by English ship captains in the early 1800’s to train the Paniolos.

Longhorns Crossing the Lake at Enchanted Springs RanchWhen the Civil War ended (1865), longhorns had multiplied to over 10 million and were the key to survival of poverty stricken Texans.  Thus, began the true cowboy years(1866-1886) when millions of longhorns were pushed up the trail by tough, hard working Texas cowboys. Many of the drives began in the Enchanted Springs Region with cowboys gathering in towns such as San Antonio and Bandera.  These brave young men and a few tough women would represent numerous races to include Hispanic, European, African-American, Native American and Caucasian.  Most of the cowboys were teenagers who would often ride 15 to 18 hours a day. They slept under the stars with their saddle as a pillow and sagebrush for a bed.  So demanding and dangerous was their job that only one out of every ten survived. However, many saw their job as their only means of survival. Few thought that their adventures would begin the legend of the cowboy and would mesmerize the world’s population for years to come.

In the late 1800s, the end of the cowboy trail drives would come as a result of the train tracks being completed into Texas and with the invention of barbed wire. Modern cowboys would no longer drive cattle thousands of miles to market, but would be confined to large fenced- off ranches.

Cowboys at Enchanted Springs Ranch

So much of the western Cowboy, Indian, and Vaquero history is connected to the Enchanted Springs Region that all the details are not contained here, but in volumes of books published over two hundred years.It is of interest to note however, that the Enchanted Springs Region was a cross roads for the famous cattle trails, the southwest passage to California, and some of the Spanish exploration routes. Jim Bowie, one of the hero’s of the Alamo, would travel deep into the Enchanted Springs Region to the headwaters of the San Saba River. Here he claimed to have found a rich silver mine. During this same period, Colonel Sam Colt designed and patented his five-shot Patterson pistol in the Northeast. Subsequently, he successfully manufactured this weapon.  However, it was not proven in combat until Captain Jack Hayes and his Texas Rangers had their decisive victory over the Comanche Indians in the heart of the Enchanted Springs Region.  The Texas Ranger order for 1,000 new Colt pistols enabled Colonel Colt to recover from bankruptcy and eventually become a household name.

After the mid 1860s, wagon trains and stage coaches would frequently travel the road from San Antonio to El Paso (similar to modern day IH-10). This road was mapped by a famous Tejano, Jose Policarpio Rodriquez and was guarded by U.S. Cavalry units to include the Buffalo Soldiers (Black Cavalry Units). On numerous occasions, stage coaches had the famous Texas Ranger, Big Foot Wallace, riding shot-gun.

Although the original region that the Native Americans thought of as Enchanted Springs covered close to 10,000 square miles of central Texas, it is now divided into numerous towns, ranches, and farms. Carved out of this rich history is Enchanted Springs Ranch. Even though it is only 86 acres, it has become the regions most unique location for special events, tourists, and western films.  An authentic old west town is surrounded by a working cattle and horse ranch with a wild animal park. This beautiful piece of the Texas Hill Country also contains numerous springs that feed two crystal clear creeks full of bass and catfish.

Old West TownWith its 1800s atmosphere which includes tour guides and entertainers in period clothing, Enchanted Springs Ranch is advertised by The History Channel as one of the top ten reasons to visit San Antonio and neighboring regions.  It was also recommended by Oprah as one of the Best Family Attractions in the U.S.

The filming industry has been active at the ranch with commercials and music videos for George Strait, Pat Green, Toby Keith, Trent Willmon, WWE and others.  There have been documentaries for The History Channel and PBS. Numerous movies include “Palo Pinto Gold” (an award winning western with many well known names), “The Widow’s Might” (Best Christian movie for 2008) and “The Legend of Hell’s Gate” with several current television and movie stars. NBC chose Enchanted Springs Ranch for the reality show “Breakthrough with Tony Robbins” and MSNBC featured the ranch on one of its business shows, and "The Dream Goes On!"