owned the ranch since 2004. Over the years
we've learned many things about the ranch which we
Elevations. The ranch is about 1,200 feet above sea
level at Miller Creek and varies over the numerous
hills to a high of over 1,620 feet above sea
level at the top of Lighthouse Hill. This is
one of the highest points in Blanco County, and from this
location you have 50 mile views.
All of the houses on the ranch have been
renovated and modernized. Some of these houses
date from the early 1900s. The Green House is
particularly interesting. This house includes
a limestone encased basement that is quite rare for
the hill country. You can
see the hand-chiseled marks on the rocks on the
Rumor has it that whiskey was sold from the basement
through the front porch trap door during the Prohibition
The 6-8 acre lake system on Miller Creek is great
for swimming, fishing, tubing, and rock jumping
(especially from the big rock with the cave in it).
Note the old rock fence on the north side of Miller
Creek. We like to put the tubes into the creek
just downstream of the crossover dam and then float
down to the big rock dam. Many of the eight
ponds (especially the larger ones) are stocked with catfish and bluegills, and
the lakes have bass too. The south pond is
particularly full of fish - it's fun to see them in
a feeding frenzy if you throw a bunch of bread or
other food into the water.
addition to dams, there's been many other
interesting efforts to retain water on the ranch.
Most of the ponds are, for example, lined with clay
to stop the water from leaking into the soil -
that's what gives the sides of the ponds their
"whitish" look. In addition, the south pond is
fed by underground springs and by water that flows
from a concrete spring-box just to the north of the
south pond - when the water is flowing you can drink
the crystal clear water that flows from the pipes on
the sides of the spring-box.
search, you can also find two locations on the ranch
where long 2" diameter pipes where pushed horizontally into
the sides of hills, with the water being designed to
flow from springs inside the hills, through the
pipe, and into small shallow concrete containment
ponds. Hint - one location is about 2000'
east/northeast of the Brown House near some electric
poles, and the other location is downstream of the
natural spring in the middle of the ranch.
Animals. We get inquiries about
rattlesnakes. Sure, there are some here, but
they aren't easy to spot. Since 2004 we've been here thousands of times and have
seen three on the entire ranch. That's
right. Three. Deer are frequently seen in the
mornings near the wooded ravines - listen for their
telltale "huff" when they detect your presence.
There's a flock of turkeys that live near the
eastern borders of the ranch. You'll also
likely see jackrabbits and dove when you're here,
along with several hawks. There's some large
graceful herons (some blue and some white) that
you'll see if you approach the ponds/lakes and no
one else is there - they always fly away when they
see humans but if you're quiet you can sneak up on
them and watch them fish. Look for turtles in
the lakes/ponds, and listen at night for coyotes
yelping. You can sometimes spotlight raccoons
near the edges of the ponds/creeks at night - even
if you don't you can usually see their tracks in the
morning. Finally, in addition to "regular"
cows roaming the ranch, you can also see some
Longhorns and horses lolling about. One of
these horses, Marvin, is a chestnut gelding whose
great grandfather was Bold Ruler, the sire of
Secretariat. One critter you won't see is a mosquito
- the bats eat 'em all.
Check out the huge oaks next to the Green House.
One of these oaks is about 10 feet in diameter at
its base - this tree is estimated to be about
400-500 years old. You can imagine buffalo,
Commanches, soldiers, and cowboys all taking their
turn resting under this tree's enormous branches.
Look at the large, tall, ancient cedar in the back
yard of the Brown House, living proof that this
often scorned "scrub tree" of the hill country can
sometimes grow into a magnificent shade tree.
Note the large pecan trees just north of Miller
Creek and between the two dams - if you come in the
fall look for fallen pecans to eat. Also, in
addition to the two peach trees that Eric and his
father planted next to the Brown House, you can also
find a wild peach tree or two if you look (try
looking to your right when you cross the low spot on
Mountain Top Road about 500 feet from the 281
entrance - the peach tree is growing in the ravine).
ever seen a madrone tree? This rare tree has a
smooth reddish skin and it bears small red fruit in
the fall. There's a few of these beautiful
trees in ravines on the north side of Lighthouse
Upside Down Tree Dwelling Prickly Pear.
This demented prickly pear plant has made it's home
in the branch of dead tree, and is growing downwards
from the branch. It's on the south bank of
Miller Creek about 500 feet downstream of the
Plants. In the spring the hills and fields
are literally covered with flowers - yellow, blue,
and red. Wow. Also, you can always see
an interesting field of yucca plants on the eastern
end of the south spur of the Lighthouse Hill range.
It's worth the effort to walk out there amongst all
of these plants - the view is quite good there too.
The stars are bright at the ranch, especially
when viewed from the dark valleys that inhabit the
ranch. If you're lucky and the night is still
and clear and moonless, go stand on the big rock
next to the big rock dam. You can look down
into the water and see the stars reflected on the
water - they look like they're a million miles down.
Lighthouse. The most prominent structure
on the ranch is the Lighthouse. It is modeled
after Saxon towers in Germany, which we admired when
we were in that area several years ago visiting
relatives (Eric's grandparents were Germans).
Given the strong Germanic presence in the Hill
Country, we believe a German "style" Lighthouse fits
Biking. This is a great place to
mountain bike. We like to start on the south
end, head to the top of Lighthouse Hill, then go
around the red house, and then back south to the
creek to cool off. In addition to mountain
biking, the ranch is particularly well suited for
road biking since it borders highways 290 and 281.
One of our guests comes to the ranch and stays at
the Green House because he can easily access the
highway from that house, and then bike the Hill
Weddings/Camps/Events. We've had a
number of weddings and other events on the ranch.
One cross-country coach brings her girls' team here
for summer camp trail running. It's
particularly nice to have a wedding on the ranch
since the reception can also be on the ranch, and
the wedding party and guests and can stay at the
houses, all of which is convenient and economical.
Customers. We see a lot of interesting
repeat customers. Some come for the views.
Or swimming/fishing in the lakes/creeks. Or
ATV riding. We have a gregarious group of
Aggies that love to come and create a mini-bonfire
in the firepit. One large family comes every
year for a reunion, with different family members
staying in different houses at the same time.
Sometimes a little separate space between family
members is a good thing, right?
Restaurant. Try the Silver K in Johnson
(about a mile west on 290 from the intersection of
290 and 281 in Johnson City). The
blackberry & pecan encrusted pork chops are a unique and
excellent dish, especially with some Rio Blanco Pale
Supermarket/Liquor Store. The Super S
store in Johnson City has groceries and some fishing
supplies (their catfish bait usually works pretty
well). The liquor store is to the north of the
Super S on the right side of the road.
you can come visit us, and that your stay here is
"We had a
great time at your ranch. I think we got to
all of the points of interest. Miller Creek
was our favorite. We also liked the highest
point in the county (Lighthouse Hill) - what a
beautiful view and a perfect spot for a picnic!
We look forward to a return visit someday." -- Wayne
Weeks and Vickie Smith (Athens, Texas)
We had a
lovely weekend at the Brown House at Lighthouse Hill
Ranch. The ranch itself is unbelievably beautiful.
We enjoyed riding ATV's throughout the ranch and
fishing in the pond. We caught numerous fish and
our children had great fun. The Brown House is
spacious and inviting. The decor is welcoming and
the leather couches in the living room are so
comfortable. The children enjoyed playing foosball
and roasting marshmallows at the fire pit outside.
We had a wonderful time relaxing on the porch,
grilling our dinner and eating on the patio while
enjoying the beautiful view of the hill country.
Thank you for a wonderful weekend! -- Chris
and Karen Thompson (Austin, Texas)
enjoyed our stay. The house was very clean and
comfortable and the ranch is beautiful. My wife and
I brought our baby boy and his grandparents came
down from Denton. We all had a wonderful time and
we hope to be back one day. Scott Arndt
had a great time at the Grey House last weekend.
Can't wait to come back again. Love the views
riding around and from the porch of the Grey House.
Had a blast catching a few catfish and perch.
Totally a great weekend. We will be coming back as
soon as we can arrange to. Thanks, Karen Tomme
(Universal City, TX)