By Matthew Monk
Leakey, Texas in Real County, is nestled in the Hill Country near the Frio River. Leakey is primarily known as a hunting hotspot for giant whitetail deer and a popular campground due to its proximity to Garner State Park. Here are a few other things you may not know about Leakey and its history.
1. It Was First Known for Its Lumber
Although a small outpost cutoff from bigger commercial centers of the time, Leakey was known in the area for its abundant supply of wood. The thriving cedar and cypress groves fed by the nearby Frio River gave settlers ample supply to cut shingles for roofing and provide lumber for houses and barns. Residents of surrounding communities often traveled to Leakey to purchase or trade for building materials.
2. Is a Major Producer of Cedar Oil
Although lumber is no longer a major commodity in present-day Leakey, the abundance of cedar trees have yielded another use: Cedar Oil. The Texarome Plant in Leakey extracts oil from the trees. Cedar oil is considered an essential oil with many beneficial health properties. Cedar oil is also used in many perfumes and colognes.
3. A Producer of Fine Wool
As more settlers moved in and built homes, lumber grew less profitable and residents turned to other means to make a living. Many began raising Angora goats. Angoras are a breed native to Turkey, known for their long, luxurious wool known as mohair. The goats were able to thrive in The Hill Country being a “browsing” breed as opposed to a typical grazing breed. The Hill Country brush and flora is a perfect food source for these goats.
4. Is Known as “The Swiss Alps of Texas”
Due to the undulating terrain and the gorgeous rolling cliffs in the area, Leakey was nicknamed “The Swiss Alps of Texas.” The surrounding faces rise to 2,400 feet and present the feeling to anyone driving on HWY 83 or HWY 337 that the roads were cut straight out of the rocks. The route presents mouth-watering vistas and is widely considered one of the best scenic drives in the country.
5. Site of the Infamous McLauren Massacre
On April 19, 1881 a Leakey family was victim to one of the last known Indian raids and killings in U.S. history. While the shootouts between cowboys and natives at this time became less and less because of fewer bounties, in areas where resources were scarce, raids were still commonplace.
On the day of the massacre, Catherine McLauren was out of the house. Upon returning she discovered several Lipan Apaches in her home. She was shot along with Allen Lease, who worked for the McLauren family. Mysteriously, the raiders did not harm any of the McLauren children who were present, and only took a handful of worthless goods from the house.