John Steinbeck once wrote, “Like most passionate nations, Texas has its own private history based on, but not limited by, facts.” Cynical? To be sure, but I agree that traditional histories of Texas begin with its heroes, and particularly those who died at the Alamo. At the very least, such creations emerged long after the fact. The real history of Texas begins with the people who first settled the region and their direct descendants.
On April 23, 2005, Byron Varner sent an e-mail to Lakeway archivist Mike Boston explaining the importance of local history: “When I first decided to write Lakeway: The First 25 Years,” wrote Varner, who died less than a year and a half later, “some people took a negative view of the idea. ‘We are practically a brand-new community. There’s no history to write about,’ was the general feeling most naysayers expressed, as if we were the only humans whoever occupied the territory.”
I must confess that I too had my doubts when Peggy Point asked if I might be interested in writing a history of Lakeway. I thought to myself, “How can I write a history of a community that is nineteen years younger than I am? That’s not history; that’s current events.”
I was wrong. The geological history of the region that now includes Lakeway goes back millions of years, and Homo sapiens have been treading these surroundings for at least 10,000 years; however, these earlier inhabitants were not as freshly scrubbed or as nattily attired as our current Lakeway residents.
The challenge of writing the history of a community is one of selection. Does one pursue the “one-damn-fact-after-another” philosophy or simply tread lightly over the highlights? There is, of course, no simple or correct answer to this dilemma. Texas sage Jim Hightower suggests the only thing to be found in the middle of the road is a yellow streak or a dead armadillo. Jim is right. History does include peaks and valleys, although I have relegated the latter mostly to the time lines that appear in Part V of the book.
Critics have also accused historians of not seeing the mature forest because of their preoccupation with its elaborate root system. I also plead guilty to this transgression.
The five chapters of Part I examine the antecedents of the general area that would one day become Lakeway. Chapter 1 takes us back millions of years to those creepy, crawly creatures that bear no resemblance to any current Texas organisms, not even those found on Austin’s Sixth Street. I am also not referring to Indians, as Columbus so mistakenly labeled them, although Native Americans do appear in Chapter 2. Chapters 3 and 4 deal with the lives of the earliest white settlers in our area. Chapter 5 covers life along the Colorado River and the building and impact of Mansfield Dam, which, some two decades before the beginning of Lakeway, flooded the Colorado River and created Lake Travis.
The five chapters of Part II introduce the reader to the establishment of Lakeway and its formative institutions, the success of which would be maintained by an army of remarkably competent volunteers.
Part III focuses on what I call the essence of Lakeway, as portrayed through paintings and photographs by local artists. Also included are the spirited public battles over the Hamilton Greenbelt, City Park, and the Activity Center, which I consider the crown jewels of the community, as well as the noncontroversial Fourth of July celebrations and the Lakeway Heritage Center and Park.
Part IV briefly speculates on Lakeway’s future, and Part V provides a chronological record of the development of Lakeway and its environs. This time line is arguably overly long and excessively detailed, but every community deserves its personal diary. It is also my preemptive defense against those who might target the sins of omission in the previous chapters. What appears missing from the main text will hopefully be found in the time line. This is especially true of many of the fine organizations and clubs that so enrich our community, as well as the golf courses that are such an integral part of the Lakeway scene. Many of the controversies that imprint any community’s history are also found in considerable detail in the time line. In this regard I am grateful to the sagacious advice of Allan Hitchcock: “Don’t try to explain the Lakeway MUD,” implored Allan, a long-time member of its board of directors. Well, I do touch on the MUD briefly in Chapter 8, but I have remanded most of its battles with residents and city officials to the time line.
Lakeway: A Hill Country Community is neither a continuation nor an elaboration on Byron Varner’s Lakeway: The First 25 Years, which did such an admirable job of covering the first quarter of a century of Lakeway’s existence. Lakeway: A Hill Country Community must stand on its own merits. It is, of course, impossible to give adequate recognition to all the individuals responsible for making Lakeway into such a unique community, other than to quote Byron Varner: “Perhaps no other community of its size anywhere can boast of the volunteerism and citizen activism with which Lakeway has been blessed.” Hence, what is positive and worthwhile in this book reflects the superlative quality of the community and its citizens. Omissions and errors are the exclusive domain of the author.