LBJ Country

Posted on April 8th, 2009

If you find yourself making the suggested trek to Pedernales Falls State Park, be sure to set aside some time to explore the nearby community of Johnson City. Most people assume this Hill Country town is named for its legendary native son, Lyndon Baines Johnson, but it's actually named after his grandfather's nephew James Polk Johnson (even though he never quite matched the international prestige of LBJ).

The Johnson family truly represents the gritty and tenacious nature of this hardscrabble region, reflected in the determined, down-to-earth approach of LBJ himself. To fully absorb the magnitude of LBJ's legacy, set aside an entire afternoon to experience the fascinating LBJ Ranch in Stonewall (16 miles west), but while you're in Johnson City, you can still get a sense of his family's captivating heritage at the Johnson Settlement and LBJ visitor center.

The visitor center offers an underwhelming overview of LBJ's life, so it's nothing to write home
(or a blog post) about, but the short stroll to the Johnson Settlement is worthwhile and family-friendly, especially to see the grazing longhorn cattle and exhibits in Johnson family buildings about ranching on the Texas frontier. Bonus: you can visit the James Polk Johnson's historic barn!

Just a couple blocks away across U.S. 290 is the charming Silver K Cafe, housed in an old lumberyard alongside several antique shops. The Silver K serves up some fine upscale-ish country fare (the tenderloin steak, crab cakes, and bronzed catfish are recommended) and the Sunday morning brunch buffet is worth planning a trip around, especially for the hearty egg casseroles, tangy fried-green tomatoes, and sumptuous carved roasts.
On a personal note, if you happen to be in Johnson City before April 25, make a point of dropping by Watson Studio Gallery to see our son Max's featured photos in the Young Guns exhibit. We attended the recent opening reception, where Max enjoyed the thrill of the loaded snack table more than the prestige of being an award-winning photographer (one of his images garnered an honorable mention). We're proud of our little shooting star!

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