What makes New York City different from Los Angeles? What makes Dallas different from Corpus Christi? And, what makes Mason different from Alpine? Every city and town has distinct things that make it stand out from others. There are geographic, cultural, economic and business differences as you move from one region to another and from one town to another. So, what then, makes Mason different from surrounding towns?
We'll start out to the southwest and go clockwise, which has us beginning with Junction, over in Kimble County. Junction has a number of things that Mason does not: it has the Llano River running through the middle of town; it has a position which backs it up to the rugged hills of the Texas Hill Country; and, it has Interstate 10 running directly through the edge of town. The rivers (North and South Llano) give it recreational appeal. In Mason, the Llano runs through undeveloped countryside. The hills are a scenic plus, and one that Mason has on a slightly reduced scale. And I-10? No one can discount the importance of easy access; but, high speed interstates also sometimes act to move people on past your community without adequate time to slow down and enjoy the area.
Move north from Junction and you arrive at Menard. Menard County has a landscape similar to that found in Mason County's far western and northwestern regions. While Mason sits on Highways 29, 87 and 377, Menard has an enviable spot on a "shortcut" from Highway 87 south to Interstate 10. Menard residents take advantage of that flow of traffic, placing most of their businesses along the highway to catch folks passing through. Menard also has a river flowing through town, though it's the much more subdued San Saba. However, they do have some wonderful history tied to that geographic item: the "Ditch Walk" and the San Saba Presidio, both wonderful historical items that only they can claim.
Over to the north of Mason is our closest neighbor, Brady, sitting in the middle of the state and the middle of McCulloch County. Brady sits directly on Highways 71, 87 and 377, making it a major transportation route, though at a slower pace than over on the interstate highway in Kimble County. Additionally, Brady has a long industrial history that Mason County has not shared. An active railroad spur still serves the area. Curtis Field has, for over fifty years, entertained one type of industrial development or another, providing fairly consistent employment opportunities. And, the sand mines out at Voca have, for almost sixty years, provided jobs in that area, and in Brady itself. Mason has no such concentrated industrial development in our county or town.
San Saba County, like Kimble and Menard, enjoys a river running through the center of its county seat. The San Saba River meets up with the Colorado over at Bend, and the landscape is enriched by the pecan trees growing in the rich river lowlands. The southern part of the county begins to pick up the details of the Hill Country as it heads south into Llano County.
Llano is another town directly on the Llano River. Like Junction, they have wisely used the river as part of their marketing of the area and as part of their local identity. The Llano continues all the way down to Kingsland where it joins the Colorado, and Llano begins the Highland Lakes chain. The county has great access on Highways 29, 71 and 16, a thriving development culture along the Colorado and Llano Rivers, and a tax base that neighboring counties can only fantasize about owning.
And, finally, there is Fredericksburg down in Gillespie County south of Mason. Though many of Mason's early settlers made their way north from Fredericksburg, the differences between the two towns is striking. Fredericksburg has become a prime tourist destination with its boutiques and high-end shops, as well as its wonderful Nimitz Museum, Enchanted Rock, historic architecture and Hill Country charm. Access to the area is easy due to its location on Highways 290, 87 and 16, its close proximity to Interstate 10, and the short driving distances to San Antonio and Austin.
And then, back to Mason. It's often said that if you're passing through Mason, you had to have chosen to be here, as we are not on the major travelways used by motorists heading elsewhere in the state. Or, possibly the motorists that follow Highways 29, 87 or 377 into Mason chose that route just so that they could slow down a bit, enjoy the scenery and soak up the area's many attractions. Those attractions include the Llano, James and San Saba Rivers, all of which flow through the county at a distance that offers privacy and the ability to commune with nature, if not easy accessibility. The town has an enviable geographic diversity, with hills to the west and south, distant hills providing scenic views, and pink granite popping up to offer diversity to the white limestone.
The town has historical architecture, as does much of the county. Since no major industrial development has occurred in the area, much of the in-town and rural landscapes remain virtually unchanged and unspoiled for the many visitors. Which also means the people have remain virtually unchanged and unspoiled.
I've always believed that Mason County's people are its biggest asset and its biggest attraction. Our warmth and welcoming nature make visitors feel that they can take their time here, and that they are welcome to return often. And, the people of Mason County are the reason that families move here to make their homes, and to raise their children. And, the people are why I choose Mason as my home, and why I have no problem honoring all our neighbors for their many attractions and highlights. I'll choose it again and again and am pleased its part and parcel of my heritage.
It’s all just my opinion.