830-629-1572 | Open Tue-Sat 10 a.m.-4 p.m., archives by appointment.

Cool. Clear. Water.

Photo: Photo of Post Oak Sea dry basin. Alton Rahe took this photo in 2007 for his book, History of Mission Valley Community.

Photo: Photo of Post Oak Sea dry basin. Alton Rahe took this photo in 2007 for his book, History of Mission Valley Community.

By Keva Hoffmann Boardman —

We are here because of the Comal and the Guadalupe rivers. We have drunk it, powered mills and made electricity with it, and played in the beautiful water since 1845.

Farmers and ranchers in Comal County also used the waters of the Guadalupe and the many little spring-fed creeks that flow into it. But when that wasn’t convenient, they utilized natural ponds and watering holes. There were many: the Crawford Tank, Branch’s Waterhole, Altgelt’s Pond, Stein’s Waterhole, Waterhole Creek, Kopplin’s Waterhole, Weltner’s Pond, Bluff Waterhole, Alligator Hole and the “Goenze Weier” (Goose Pond) in Gesche’s Pasture to name a few.

The largest waterhole from way-back-when was the “Post Ock See” or Post Oak Sea, located about 6 miles out of NB on Hwy 46W. It was said that during long droughts, thousands of head of cattle and livestock were driven by cowboys from all over the area to water at the “Sea”. Local rancher Bill Adams remembered that “when every waterhole in the county was dry and when the Guadalupe was down to a trickle, the “Sea” had water.”

Post Oak Sea, or the “Sea”, covered many acres. By the early 1870s, several ranches surrounded it, but the “Sea” was used by all. When ranchers from other areas as far as Mason were in drought they brought their livestock to Post Oak Sea. In like fashion, ranchers from Comal County who’d lost pasture land to drought were invited to move their cattle to neighboring grasslands. It was a kinder and gentler time. In 1886, Comal County purchased acreage on the “Sea” to use as a public watering and camping place on the way to Fredericksburg. Watering holes were the gas stations and rest stops of the horse-and-buggy days.

Rancher Rochette Coreth shared memories of Post Oak Sea in the local newspaper. “Large numbers of livestock would water there in the days of the open range. Their hooves packed the soil and thereby kept the lake watertight.” Rochette also told a story of his father, Franz Coreth, and the Post Oak Sea. Franz had shot a steer that was watering at the “Sea” to take home to butcher. The steer wandered into deep water before it fell and Franz got soaking wet dragging it to shore with a rope tied to his horse’s saddle horn. His brother and nephew met him on the bank with an ox-drawn wagon. The steer had to be hauled 12 miles to the Coreth Ranch. A cold norther suddenly blew in and, to keep from freezing, the wet Franz crawled into the still warm, field-dressed carcass as they slowly made the three-hour trip home. One of the young men handed him the steer’s liver saying “Here is also a pillow.”

In History of Mission Valley Community, Alton Rahe recorded stories of rancher Bill Adams which included tales about Post Oak Sea. “This was a really unusually large body of water, never known to be dry until 1887, and since then held water for only a short time following heavy rains. We had a big time around this lake fishing … and swimming … On many a moon-lit night we young fellows … would get together at this “sea”, all on horseback, and with several trained dogs, we waited for hogs to come to water … We would hold our dogs and kept quiet until the hogs had filled up on water, and had a good time wallowing in it, then we turned the dogs loose and jumped on our horses surrounding them, the dogs baying and holding them in the water. Some of the best rodeos one ever saw would take place right then.”

What happened to the legendary “Post Oak Sea”?

Why it suddenly went dry in 1887 is still a mystery, but there were several old-timers who came up with guesses. Bill Adams said that he wondered if an earthquake or geological disturbance had caused it to drain. He remembered strange weather. In January and February of 1886, it had been extremely cold and the “Sea” had frozen over except for a patch in the middle. Then, that summer had been terribly dry followed by a massive storm with hurricane-like winds in August. By the summer of 1887, a large crack had opened up in the ground near his home which formed a long horseshoe-shaped line across the area for at least a mile. It was in places 5-6 inches wide and it was established, by throwing rocks down it, to be at least 100 feet deep in some places. Had the basin of the “Sea” also cracked?

Another story postulated that the “Sea” went dry because a group of local lads threw dynamite into the water to stun and harvest fish from deep in the lake. The group later feared that their laziness had destroyed the rock foundation of the “Sea”. Yet another tale blames the building of a fence through the middle of the “Sea”; the placing of fence poles might have pierced the basin and caused the water to leak down.

Post Oak Sea does occasionally return. The newspaper published a photo of it full of water after heavy rains in March of 1957. Rahe’s book has another photo of a very full “Sea” after the 1972 rains that caused a major flood in New Braunfels.

I took my Mom and we drove up Hwy 46 to locate the site of the famous historical watering hole following Mr. Rahe’s directions. “Travel west on Hwy 46, pass the intersection of FM 2722. Before you get to the Comal County Road Dept/County Engineers office on the left, you can still see the basin of the Post oak Sea on your right. A small amount of water is usually visible. The stock tank closer to the highway with big rocks was constructed recently and has nothing to do with the original Post Oak Sea.”

Take the short drive out 46 or at least google map it and look at the satellite image of the area. You can indeed still see the footprint of Post Oak Sea on the landscape. If you go after a good rain, you will even see a little water in what was once the largest watering hole in the county.

Sources: History of Mission Valley Community by Alton Rahe; Sophienburg Museum: NB Herald, NB Herald-Zeitung and Neu Braunfelser Zeitung collections; Oscar Haas collection; “Reflections” recordings #936 and #403.