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Blanco, Texas – Gateway to the Hill Country

Blanco, Texas – Gateway to the Hill Country

The small city of Blanco, Texas is frequently referred to as both the Gateway to the Hill Country and the Lavender Capital of Texas, and with such colorful descriptions, the town is sure to be a pleasant place to visit or settle down. Blanco is 45 miles west of Austin and about 45 miles northwest of San Antonio, so its rural charm is complimented by close proximity to a couple of the most populous and historic cities in Texas.

Blanco, which is located on the Blanco River in an area of the Hill Country called the Devil’s Backbone due to its nearly mountainous terrain, was established around the year 1854 when Captain James Callahan camped in the valley near the Blanco River and decided to make his home there. A few years later, Callahan and his troop of around 100 men were initiated into the State armed forces as Texas Rangers and Callahan and his company laid out the town and sold lots for homes to be built.

Shortly thereafter, another settler, Joseph Bird, settled in nearby Round Mountain, which was called Bird Town after his arrival, and many other settlers bought lots and began raising families, including Hugh McLauren, Billy Trainer, and E.C. Hinds. The same year, the first church was built and opened for worship, called the First Methodist Church, and shortly thereafter, the Missionary Baptist Church began services in nearby Round Mountain. Afterward, a school was built and other houses of worship were organized, and the little town began to grow.

Blanco was originally called Pittsburgh, and the name was changed to Blanco around the time of Callahan`s arrival. The new name was derived from the Spanish word for white, which was how the limestone riverbed appeared during times of drought when the light-colored limestone could be seen from the banks of the river. After a big flood in the mid-1800’s, the town center was moved across the river and a few miles downstream, and renamed Blanco.

In its early years, many Blanco residents were cotton growers, but after the boll weevil took its toll on the cotton crops, the residents found other ways to support themselves, including cattle ranching and raising Angora goats to produce the fine mohair which was an important fiber crop at the time, along with growing and cutting cedar trees and dairy farming. Another source of income was hog raising, and numerous head of sheep were herded to the area from Missouri and Pennsylvania for wool production.

Many of these endeavors continue in the Blanco area today, and the tourist industry is also a large part of the Blanco economy, with many bed and breakfast inns providing visitors with a quiet, rural place to stay while exploring the Texas Hill Country and all its attractions. The population of Blanco in the 2000 census was about 1,500 occupants, and the area of the town is 1.7 miles, .1 mile of which is water, mostly the waters of the Blanco River.

Blanco is home to 576 households, 47% of which are married couples, and the population is 88% white, with a smattering of different ethnicities as well. The median age of residents is 39 years and there is a larger percentage of women in Blanco than men, at 88 men for every 100 women. The median income for a household in Blanco is about $31,000, and 32% of the households have children under the age of 18.

The Blanco real estate market, with homes in the mid 100’s, is fairly affordable compared to the Austin real estate market (with an average price of around 200k). But it is fairly similar to the San Antonio market which is considered one of the most affordable real estate markets of the large Texas cities.

Some of the attractions in Blanco today are the Blanco Classic Car Show, which has been held for over 20 years in mid-May, and the Blanco Lavender Festival, which is held every year in mid-June and which features live music, lavender farming, and various foods, beverages, and other activities.

Some of the notable bed and breakfast inns include the Paradise Lofts on Main, the Grape Creek Inn, and the Blair House Bed and Breakfast, among others. There are also many local restaurants as well as national chain restaurants and fast-food eateries, and there are many parks and nature-related activities, as well as close proximity to the Hill Country vineyards in the area.

So for a peaceful and scenic visit to the Texas Hill Country, come on over to Blanco, and enjoy the scent of the lavenders as well as the rural charm of central Texas!