Nostalgia and symbolism inspire fund for Horseshoe Bay lighthouse

CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

HORSESHOE BAY — As a teenager visiting for summer vacation in the 1970s, Geneva Dalton developed a fondness for Lake LBJ and its features.

“I’ve always loved Lake LBJ. I learned to water ski, (ride personal watercraft) up here,” she said.  “(The lighthouse) was always special because it was just right there.”

Being stranded on the water during a lake outing curiously became one of her fondest memories.

“I ran out of gas right at the lighthouse. I had to wait there for 45 minutes” until help arrived, she said. “It was like I really wasn’t that scared because it was comforting. I have loved that lighthouse ever since.”

Not only did Dalton and her husband, Roger, eventually make Horseshoe Bay their home, they have donated money to help restore the lighthouse.

“I thought, ‘We can’t lose that lighthouse,'” she said.

The Daltons are among scores of residents who have donated, so far, a total of about $40,000 for the lighthouse, which is considered an historical “icon” in the community and a landmark in the Highland Lakes.

“The lighthouse is the largest in the state and the oldest of Texas’ four inland lighthouses,” said Carol Young, chairwoman of Friends of the Lighthouse. “Structurally it’s fine. It’s just the outside (that needs upgrades.)”

The original lighthouse construction evolved from a partnership between the Lower Colorado River Authority and a private developer in the 1970s.

LCRA granted Hurd Properties permission to build the structure at the end of a 200-foot dike north of the Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant on Lake LBJ.

The tower, completed in 1972, included an observation room and a navigation beacon on the roof.

The Horseshoe Bay Property Owners Association eventually inherited the property and the structure. It has handled repairs through the years and maintains a musical chimes feature that is audible along the lake during holidays and special occassions.

Restoring the facade with concrete siding and windows and doing the entryway work will be the most extensive project for the lighthouse.

“We’re needing something that can handle the weather,” Young said. “We’re looking to raise between $75,000 and $80,000.”

To raise money, POA officials have solicited donations from individuals and businesses. A local artist has recreated lighthouse images for notecards, stationary and key chains that are for sale at Ace Hardware in Horseshoe Bay with proceeds going to the restoration project.

A fundraiser is scheduled for Oct. 16.

Dalton hopes other residents will join the effort as she continues her own support for the lighthouse, which is visible from her bay window.

“I love that lighthouse,” Dalton said. “We’re probably going to end up donating more.”

Young said, “It’s the symbol of Horsehoe Bay. I just think it’s a beacon of light for the area.”

Donations for the lighthouse restoration project may be made to the Horseshoe Bay POA (501-C4), P.O. Box 7773, Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657. For more information, call (830) 598-8795.

connie@thepicayune.com