STONEWALL — The nation’s last president “of the land,” Lyndon B. Johnson, revered the Texas Hill Country and its people, plants and animals. Now, visitors to LBJ State Park & Historic Site can share the late president’s love of one of Texas’ most enduring icons: the longhorn.
Eight steer from the Official Texas Longhorn Herd are now roaming the park, located on Park Road 52 off U.S. 290 between Johnson City and Fredericksburg.
Park superintendent Iris Neffendorf said the new additions to the 700-acre park came from the 100-plus head kept at San Angelo State Park.
“LBJ didn’t raise longhorns, although he kept a sizable herd of herefords at the LBJ Ranch that sits just across the Pedernales River from the state park,” Neffendorf said. “LBJ helped the park when it opened in many ways and encouraged the inclusion of longhorns, bison and other indigenous wildlife in game pens for visitors to see.”
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has auctioned off LBJ State Park’s few resident longhorns of mixed lineage and replaced them with eight young steers hailing from descendants of the pure longhorn line preserved in the 1940s by Texas oilman Sid Richardson and Texas writer and historian Frank Dobie. Today’s Official Texas Longhorn Herd totals 205 head pastured at Fort Griffin State Historic Site and Copper Breaks, LBJ, Palo Duro and San Angelo state parks.
Plans are in the works at LBJ State Park to develop interpretive programs focused on the Official Texas Longhorn Herd and update longhorn signage/kiosks by the small game pen inside the park.
The park’s visitors center includes several exhibits pertaining to Texas’ ranching heritage, including one that explains how Johnson’s grandfather drove 7,000 longhorns up the Chisholm Trail to Abilene, Kan., before the turn of the 20th century. The late president’s Stetson hat, saddle and boots, as well as information about his love of the land and ranching, are on display.
For more information about the longhorns and LBJ State Park & Historic Site, call (830) 644-2252.
Story by Rob McCorkle of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department