On July 8, 2008 I published an article about the Mouth of Lost Creek, a favorite spot on the San Saba River for thousands of people seeking the thrill and enjoyment of overnight and weekend camping,fishing and exploring. In this article I told of one such camping trip when two friends and I explored a deep cave in the hills above the mouth of Lost Creek in 1928. This was a year reminiscent of Floyd Collins, a lad who had a song published about his death in “a lonely sandstone cave”. And so it is that 80 years later I am asking you to accompany me on an overnight trip through the magic of imagination to the mouth of that little stream that empties into the San Saba and for many decades has been known as Lost Creek.
THE RETURN TO LOST CREEK
Once again in the early morning hours, as I lie near the cozy edge of slumber, I am kept awake by pellets of memories that keep ricocheting around my mind seeking an outlet into a more complete form of recollection. At last one such pellet settles down in a comfortable and well known spot where events of the past are legend for people of this area.
Now, through the travel agency of imagination, I am going to revisit that favorite fishing, swimming and week-end spot of long ago where even the name “The Mouth of Lost Creek” has lent enchantment to the thousands who have camped there. For it is here that one can imagine the existence of other riddles of the past that might be hidden here along with the mystery of the creek. And to youth, besides the fun of swimming and fishing, it held the added attraction of adventure as well as charm, beauty and the possibilities of romance.
If this spot is new to you, or if you have not visited it lately, come fly with me on my magic carpet as I attempt to coax from dim recollections some of the events so enjoyed near this little creek that once was lost. The way will not be hard to find, for routes recently travelled are not easily forgotten, it is those long ago events that have been dimmed by the past.
Our flying carpet, propelled by the witchcraft of imagination, will head for Voca following Highway 71. Soon we are passing over Ron Brodbeck’s home, railroad track and Tool and Machine Company and we notice that his Texas Longhorn Steers are doing well. (Hey Ron, the red light is on at your railroad crossing and you are backing up traffic!!)
As we reach the community of Voca I reduce the speed of our craft that we might view this old township with it’s lengthy history, which, I have no doubt, could be obtained from one of the old timers on a very short notice.
A short distance beyond this slumbering village we pass the old abandoned homestead of Marion Deans and shortly thereafter turn left on the road that leads back to the San Saba River and to the Mouth of Lost Creek. Hovering over this dirt road, which in dry weather allows huge balloons of dust to be towed behind each vehicle, we see the countryside that is covered with blankets of bluebonnets in early spring has now been turned to tan by the heat of full summer. Further down the lane we fly over irrigated fields that somehow were not logged into my youthful memory book, or could it be that I have some pages missing?
Now we are approaching the low water crossing of the San Saba so I guide our craft over the pecan trees along the river bank and over the home of K Y and Peggy Owens which sits on a hill overlooking the mouth of Lost Creek.(*see foot note).
After waving hello to Peggy I settle our craft down on the large sand bar at the mouth of this little creek where we will make camp and spend the night near the water for I want you to listen with me to the voice of the river as it ripples over the shallows speaking to the frogs and other river nightlife and hear the croak of that ole catfish we are going to try to catch in the morning.
How long has it been since I lay there and listened to that river music at night; since I fished the waters from the low water crossing to the deep hole at the mouth of the little creek called Lost; since I swam in the deep hole and tried to find bottom? How long since I sat in the shade of the pecan trees, baited the hook on that old cane pole with a big fat worm with the hope of catching a big catfish.
Then sit with the anticipation of seeing that cork disappear under the water with the swiftness that indicates I have hooked a big’un. Now comes the thrill of the tug and pull on the line as he darts here and there trying to evade his capture and I hear the voice of my fishing companions as I pull him out of the water saying “Oh boy, ain’t he a dandy?”
How long since I climbed the high bank on the south side of the river and searched for the cave that led to God knows where, yet provided thrills for youthful foolhardiness?
Would I again, given the opportunity, seek the mystery of what lay beyond the deep and narrow passageways of that cave that in my youth I did not fear to enter? And the answer comes forth loud and clear: “ Not by the hair of your chinny chin chin and even with Aladdin’s lamp in my hand or his faithful genie by my side would I enter into that sucker again.”
As darkness falls over the camp I wonder: how long has it been since I smelled bacon cooking over an open campfire and drank coffee from that proverbial tin can; why is that little creek which joins the river at this point is called Lost; who lost it; where does it come from and why is it so oft times dry? These questions are the same as I asked long ago and as yet do not have all of the answers.
Perhaps we could find some of those answers were my magic carpet not imaginary, then we could follow the course of that creek, find it’s source and possibly discover the mystery of why it was lost......
At this point, as so often happens, my early morning dreams and fantasies are interrupted by that sometimes dreaded yet anticipated call of my roommate saying “get up, it’s coffee time.”
Now I must say to those who accompanied me on my imaginative journey “Sorry folks, but it is time to return to reality, so get off my magic carpet and get home the best way you can.”
There are, no doubt, many versions of why that the little stream referred to in the above story is called Lost Creek but the version that seems most probable to me is as follows:
As this little creek rambles lazily in all directions through the countryside between Fredonia and it’s entry into the San Saba River all evidence that a creek ever existed in many areas disappears during long dry spells. For that reason it appeared to have become lost and thus it seems very logical that it become known as Lost Creek. (Take it or leave it— that’s my story—what’s yours?)
- Some 65 years after exploring that Lost Creek cave I have frequently used the low water crossing of the San Saba just above the mouth of that creek and have been tempted to turn into the roadway leading to the top of the hill that overlooks this section of the river to take a look at the home K.Y. Owens and his wife Peggy built there in 1993. This is the house that Wayne Spiller once told me he was going to buy if he ever won the Texas Lottery.
However, Mrs. Owens advised me that it was doubtful there was enough money in that lottery to buy her home and at the same time she graciously invited me to turn into their roadway and explore their home just as I did that cave in 1928. And that is what I plan to do the next time I make that low water crossing.