Walk down the dusty streets of Pioneer Town and picture what it was like to live in a Western village more than 100 years ago. See the blacksmith shop, emporium, chapel, barbershop, saloon, sheriff's office, post office, newspaper office, and don't miss the bottle house, made entirely of glass soda bottles.
Then stay for a few nights at the adjacent 7A Ranch, the only resort in Wimberley with full access to the scenic Blanco River.
In 1946, Raymond L. and Madge Czichos of Houston visited Wimberley and bought seven acres of land on the Blanco River. They christened their place 7A Ranch, hoping to create a family vacation spot. Raymond and his father, F.P. Czichos, put up the first building. Five rock cottages and a rock recreation room were built that winter of 1946-47. The following summer, the Czichoses rented their first cabins and began their family resort on the Blanco.
Today, 7A Ranch has grown to more than 140 acres with 27 cabins, three lodges, rooms in the adjacent Pioneer Town, and a swimming pool. And it is still run by the Czichos family.
"We have a great venue," says Trish Czichos, wife of R.L.'s son Raymond W., and manager of Pioneer Town. "We focus on families and events. Some families make it a tradition to come here every year. We have families who have returned here every year for three generations."
Families have a lot to keep them busy: fishing, swimming and tubing in the Blanco River; relaxing or frolicking by the pool; playing a game of basketball, hopscotch, volleyball, horseshoes or washer pitching. Kids can frolic on the playground. The family can make use of the barbecue grills and picnic tables, or just relax under the oak and pecan trees.
Like birds? Just hang out on your porch and catch a glimpse of ruby-throated hummingbirds, chickadees, titmice, sparrows, mockingbirds, cardinals, woodpeckers, and the elusive herons and cranes attracted to the Blanco. The river also hosts ducks and geese which you can't miss hearing.
Like wildlife? Wild turkey, doves, and roadrunners share 7A land with white-tailed deer, fox, possums, armadillos, rabbits, skunks, and the occasional ring-tailed cat.
The cabins are rustic and that is part of the charm that keeps people returning year after year.
"People are often overwhelmed by the size and fast pace of a big city," Trish explains. "Their reaction is to hold onto something that hasn't changed in a very long time. Even with Wimberley growing as it has, it's still a small village and 7A and Pioneer Town give them a good taste of the way things used to be."
Pioneer Town was R.L's idea and a true labor of love. In the mid 1960s, many old buildings were being torn down in the Austin, San Antonio and Waco areas. He acquired old materials and building parts put his Old West town together piece by piece.
For several years, Trish and her husband owned and operated a mini train that chugged around the property. Unfortunately, that railroad no longer operates because of maintenance difficulties, but the rest of Pioneer Town welcomes visitors with open arms
Take the Emporium, which sells a wide variety of gifts, has a huge jackalope you can ride on, and has a cowboy museum that proprietor Jack Glover will be happy to regale you about.
Then there's the Opera House that you can rent for large meetings or special events.
Or how about the Pioneer Chapel that hosts many events throughout the year and has seen many marriages performed under its roof. And the nearby Silver Spoon Café, with its antique bar and rock fireplace, can seat 130 making it a great place for a reception.
The Cowboy, Indian and Ponderosa lodges are 10-room lodges, each with a large meeting room and group kitchen. The Caballero Cantina adjacent to the pool at 7A, is for small groups. It has a mini-kitchen with microwave, refrigerator, and sink; cable TV with DVD player; games; and books for relaxing. Friends and family in cabins like to rent this unit to eat together or have a party.
Today, more than 60 years from its creation, families are bringing their children and grandchildren to Pioneer Town, remembering their own childhood visits.
"We're not for everybody," Trish points out. "If you want lodging with all the modern amenities, we're not your place. But we offer what few other places can— familiarity and simplicity. People get a 'come back home again' feeling here."
This old western town has been the site of many events, such as the upcoming My Neighbors Keeper's annual fundraiser, 2015 Mardi Gras, to be held on Saturday, February 7th in the streets of Pioneer Town. Party goers enjoy food, (including beignets), music (3 bands including Broken Glass) drinks, and yes, they serve hurricanes, gumbo cookoff, costume contest, crowing a King and Queen and lots of fun.
For More Information:
512-847-2517 or www.7aresort.com