Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Examples of abundant wildlife of the Hill Country are highlighted by American bison, Texas longhorns, and white-tailed deer. The park is famous for its spring-blooming wildflower fields.
Things to Do
Visitors to this day use park can enjoy historical study, picnicking, nature study, fishing, swimming and viewing Texas longhorn cattle. The abundant wildlife of the Hill Country is highlighted by enclosures containing buffalo, longhorn and white-tailed deer. These animals have played a part in the park's history, and the local wildlife continues to be an important attraction for visitors. The park is famous for its spring wildflower display.
The Visitor Center is the focal point of Lyndon B. Johnson State Park. It contains memorabilia from President Johnson's presidency and interactive displays about the land and people that shaped a president. Attached to the Visitor Center is the Behrens Cabin, a two-room dogtrot cabin built by German immigrant H. C. Behrens during the 1870s. The furnishings are typical of such homes in that period. Visitors can further explore the history of these immigrants by viewing the 1860s Danz family log cabin located just west of the Visitor Center. An auditorium in the visitor center complex will accommodate 234 persons for state performances or films. An outdoor amphitheater is used for a variety of programs. A nature trail, including a Hill Country botanical exhibit, winds past wildlife enclosures stocked with bison, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, other native wildlife, and longhorn cattle.
Directly across the Pedernales River from the LBJ State Park is the LBJ Ranch, part of LBJ National Historical Park.
- The Annual LBJ Tree Lighting takes place in mid-December.
Located east of the visitor center and off the nature trail, is a living history farm. Life on the farmstead is presented as it was in 1918. Park interpreters wear period clothing, do the farm and household chores as they were done at that time, and also conduct tours for the visitors.
The Sauer-Beckmann Farm - Rural Life, 1900-1918
When visitors can smell lunch being cooked on a wood-burning stove, they are close to the Sauer-Beckmann Living Farm! Here, costumed interpreters carry out the day-to-day activities of a turn-of-the-century Texas-German farm family. Some chores are seasonal, such as canning and butchering. Farm animals, however, must be cared for on a daily basis, including activities like feeding, milking, gathering eggs and slopping the hogs. Also, the house is cleaned, meals are cooked, butter is churned and cheese is made. Visitors may see the "family" scrubbing the floors with homemade lye soap, or plowing the garden with a team of horses.
The setting for the present-day living history activities is an authentic Hill Country farm. Johann and Christine Sauer, along with their four children, settled this land in 1869. Their family prospered and grew and, by 1885, several stone buildings were built near the original rock and log cabins. Eventually, the Sauers had 10 children. One of those, Augusta Sauer Lindig, served as midwife at the birth of President Johnson.
The Beckmann family acquired the property in 1900. A good cotton crop in 1915 allowed Emil and Emma Beckmann to build a new barn, to add a frame room onto the old rock structure, and to construct porches connecting to a lovely Victorian house covered with fashionable pressed tin. In 1966, Edna Beckmann Hightower sold the site to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Archeological surveying and restoration work was undertaken and the farm opened to the public in 1975. Since then, time has stood still and the farm remains forever a small piece of Texas as it was at the beginning of the 20th century. Park visitors can experience the farm at their leisure and groups can make arrangements for tours.
Educational & Interpretive Programs
Tours of the complex, including the Sauer-Beckmann farm with its smokehouse, Victorian style house, garden, and log house lasts approximately an hour; group reservations are accepted. No entrance fee is required, but donation boxes are available. Individuals and families can take the tour on a first-come, first-serve basis. For group tours, call (830) 644-2252, Ext. 229.
Directly across the Pedernales River from the LBJ State Park is the LBJ Ranch, part of LBJ National Historical Park. Self-guided tours of the Ranch begin at the LBJ State Park Visitor Center. Among the sites on the Ranch are the one-room Junction School first attended by the four-year-old Lyndon B. Johnson in 1912, reconstructed birthplace and nearby Johnson family cemetery where the former President is buried, and the Texas White House. The drive also takes visitors through the pasturelands where Hereford cattle, descended from those owned by President Johnson, can be viewed.
Self-guided tours of the LBJ Ranch begin at the LBJ State Park Visitor Center and are available daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, when the national park is closed. For more information & hours of operation, visit the LBJ National Historical Park web site.
Old Tunnel State Park: From June through October, the Wildlife Division conducts various bat-viewing opportunities at Old Tunnel State Park. For more information call their information line at (866) 978-2287.
Nearby state parks include Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Honey Creek State Natural Area, Blanco State Park, Pedernales Falls State Park, and Guadalupe River State Park. Other attractions include Johnson City, where LBJ's boyhood home and the National Park Service Visitor Center are located, Johnson Settlement just west of the boyhood home, which includes a cluster of stone barns and buildings constructed by LBJ's grandfather, Sam Ealy Johnson, Sr., and Sam's brother Tom. Nearby Fredericksburg, founded in 1846, has many excellent examples of German architecture, shops, restaurants, and several bakeries. Fredericksburg is also home to the National Museum of the Pacific War, which includes the Admiral Nimitz Museum, the George Bush Gallery, and many more features and exhibits.
The rich heritage of German culture is evident throughout the Texas Hill Country, where Texans of German descent proudly maintain links with the past. In Fredericksburg, some of the tourist attractions which reflect German culture are the Pioneer Museum, the Verein Kirche and the Peter Tatsch Home. Other historical buildings and activities are found throughout the Hill Country, especially in older, predominantly German settlements such as Boerne and New Braunfels.