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Tubing at Camp Warnecke?

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Thirty years ago in 1976, newspaperman Fred Oheim was interviewed and recorded by Radio Station KGNB owner Herb Skoog. This turned out to be the first Reflections program ever. To this day, that program airs every Sunday morning on the radio. These interviews record the oral history of New Braunfels through the stories of its people. Now 2014 interviews later, the tapes (or CD’s) can be heard and purchased at The Sophienburg. New recordings as of August 1 are interviews with David Rutherford, Bud Dallmann, Ray Mendez, Joyce Mittendorf Kelly, Moe Schwab, and Chamber Legends Carroll Hoffman, Herb Skoog, and Wib Amacher.

A new addition to the Reflections program is the recently installed state-of-the-art recording studio given in memory of Joline Staats Erben by her son Joel Karl Erben. Call if you would like to be interviewed by one of these able volunteers: Herb Skoog, Bob Pfeuffer, Roxolin Krueger, or Ron Friesenhahn.

As a result of the last column about Stinky Falls, there were lots of interesting and funny comments about Stinky Falls. In addition, Bob Pfeuffer called to say that Gode mentioned as the first car owner was actually his grandfather’s brother and that he had the actual leather license plate of that car.

Now going down the beautiful, clear Comal River from Clemens Dam one sees Schlitterbahn’s new addition, Surfenburg. This area was at one time one of the top family summer resort areas in South Texas. I’m talking about Camp Warnecke.

The land was originally purchased by Professor F.E. Giesecke, a teacher at A & M College back in 1910, for the purpose of establishing a summer school for A & M and U T students. Students lived in tents and professors in cottages. The old waterwheel that used to be at the Camp Warnecke rapids provided the electricity the first year, however, the light was not satisfactory because the paddles of the old wheel were waterlogged on one side, causing an irregular turn. This caused the lights to dim and flare. The second year the electricity was provided by Harry Landa.

In 1918 Giesecke sold the larger part of the 60 acre plot but he retained a small area which became Camp Giesecke and now The Other Place. Otto and Martha Warnecke bought the land from Giesecke and opened a family resort that would eventually have 103 cottages. Many of you will remember the sprinklers on top of the main building, cooling off the tin roof.

The biggest and most popular attraction at Camp Warnecke was the rapids where long trains of swimmers hooked their tubes together with their feet under the armpits of the one in front of them forming a train to “shoot the rapids”. Local teenagers were always on hand to help visitors either get back into their overturned tubes or to help the tubes overturn.

Right below the rapids there was a whirlpool, not dangerous if you knew how to navigate it. It scared me, but not nearly so much as the daddy- long- legs spiders in the dressing rooms. Speaking of dressing rooms, in the early days they rented out itsy bitsy teenie weenie black wool bathing suits. Personally I preferred my two- piece suit that my mother sewed for me out of drapery material. All right, it was during WWII and you couldn’t even buy elastic.

Another favorite pastime was called “catching the ledges”. This activity was done mostly by boys who dove into the rapids and hung on to the soapstone rocks. If you were “shooting the rapids”, the trick was to avoid being tumped over by these locals.

In 1951 Camp Warnecke made an inside story in Life Magazine.