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Ten fast facts about Marble Falls

Marble Falls boasts a fascinating history. Test your knowledge — or learn something new — about the ‘City Founded by a Blind Man.’ Staff photo

As you drive into Marble Falls from U.S. 281 North, a bend in the road as it rounds a hill gives you a bird’s-eye view of the quaint, lakeside town. Marble Falls is a growing city, attracting newcomers and tourists alike with its old-town charm. It’s a town that still flashes traffic lights at 10 p.m. and is bolstered by its community of locals and friends.

Marble Falls claims one of the most fascinating histories in the state. The small city has an interesting background that includes granite mining, secret waterfalls, and even early 20th century feminism.

Take a look at these 10 quick facts about Marble Falls.

10. The city of Marble Falls was founded by Confederate Gen. Adam R. “Stovepipe” Johnson on July 12, 1887. His nickname comes from the dummy cannons he constructed from stovepipes and wagon wheels during the Civil War. Johnson was a clever, sneaky officer: He led the 1962 Newburgh Raid in Indiana during which he cornered a town with his stovepipe decoys to steal supplies and ammunition from his Hoosier foes.

9. Johnson was permanently blinded during a skirmish in 1864 when one of his men misfired his gun. Left behind, sightless and helpless, he was captured and imprisoned for the remainder of the war. In 1865, Johnson founded Marble Falls, which became known as “the blind man’s town.”

8. In 1917, Marble Falls elected the first female mayor in the nation: Ophelia Crosby “Birdie” Harwood — even though women had yet to gain the right to vote when she took over leadership of Marble Falls! Visit the Falls on the Colorado Museum to see artifacts from Harwood’s tenure.

7. Dead Man’s Hole is the city’s creepiest — and darkest — landmark. Seven feet wide and 160 feet deep, the hole was reportedly used during the Civil War to send Union sympathizers to a most unfortunate fate. At least 17 bodies were confirmed to be at the bottom, though some speculate it was more than 30. Dead Man’s Hole isn’t the only spooky site: Read about the scariest spots in the Highland Lakes.

6.Lake Marble Falls is the smallest in the chain of the six Highland Lakes established by Lower Colorado River Authority to generate hydroelectric power. The community gathers at the lake for annual events such as the Walkway of Lights and Marble Falls Community Fireworks on the Fourth of July.

5. The U.S. 281 bridge crossing Lake Marble Falls was completed in 2014, replacing a steel bridge from the 1930s. The outdated bridge was demolished in 2013 with the whole town watching. It was the largest bridge demotion in Texas history. Watch a video here!

4. The iconic Blue Bonnet Cafe — a hotspot for homestyle pies baked from scratch — was not named after the state flower but rather blue hats. Yes, that’s right. According to the restaurant’s website, the name is an homage to bonnets that are blue. The cafe has attracted notable customers, including President George W. Bush, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and country musicians Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett. Try a slice during Pie Happy Hour, from 3-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

3. Granite Mountain is one of the city’s most important landmarks. The pink granite — similar to the kind that makes up Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg — was used for the construction of the Texas State Capitol in the late 1880s after the original building burned down in 1881. The granite was mined off the labor of 900 convicts. That granite put Marble Falls on the map and brought the train to town.

2. The city is named after waterfalls now located at the bottom of Lake Marble Falls, about where the bridge is anchored. The waterfalls are impossible to see unless the lake is lowered for maintenance on the dam. On those rare occasions, the whole town comes out to swim and play. The falls make great swimming holes and fun rapids, stretching from bank to bank.

1. The economy in this laid-back town is based on tourism. It’s the perfect place for people who love boating, fishing, golfing, hunting, camping, swimming, bird-watching, and geology. It’s also the shopping mecca of the Highland Lakes with more shops and stores than any of the surrounding towns. There is truly something for everybody in Marble Falls.

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There are 2 comments.

Randy Weston Head. —
General Johnston was blind. Marble Falls was know as the town laid out by a blind man.
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robinson.margot@gmail.com —
Great facts. I am so happy that one of my very special friend leave in there. Beautiful picture,thank you. I maybe will visit one day,Margot Robinson
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