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A Walk in the Park
Although it is difficult to find much good news in drought conditions, the resulting lower water level of Canyon Lake reveals the foundations of the original 711 Ranch family home and headquarters at the Mystic Shores Lakeside Park. Take a walk along the park’s trail (in the direction of car travel) for glimpses of the remains on the right outside the fence after you pass the pavilion. Due to very high snake activity right now, off-trail hikes are discouraged or should be pursued with extreme caution. Perhaps the best option is to just kick back, relax and take a “virtual tour” of the park right here as it looked over 40 years ago! 

Imagine the park area before the lake was built.   The L.A. Nordan family, owners of the 711 Ranch, built a compound of buildings on what was a wide bluff overlooking the meandering Guadalupe River – not on a narrow peninsula close to the water’s edge, as it might appear today. Much of the 711 headquarters property came to be owned by the U.S. government as a part of their conservation easement. From the 711 headquarters, the river came from the south along tall cliffs, passed down in front of the headquarters area and turned eastward, where it continued to twist and turn down the canyons toward New Braunfels. 

Two distinctive remains provide good landmarks for sorting out the 711 headquarters layout. At the far tip of the Lakeside Park is a foundation with richly-colored tile floors – this was Mr. Nordan’s “Game” House where he housed his big game trophies. On the west, or upper, end of the remains are the pool and pool house. The pool house is recognizable by areas of blue tiles and pink tiles and a large rectangular tiled area. Just south of the pool house was a horseshoe-shaped pool, now filled with bushes. The original headquarters home, a large ranch-style house, sat just east of the pool house. There was a series of four cottages, or guest houses, between the pool house and the Game House. The headquarter buildings were connected by a web of concrete sidewalks, some of which can still be seen.  

The main access to the 711 Ranch was initially from a portion of Crane’s Mill Road now under water. Crane’s Mill extended from the Mystic Shores boat ramp, across the river, to what is now the Comal County Crane’s Mill Park, providing an important link to communities straddling the river. The 711 Ranch entry was off Crane’s Mill Road on the north side of the Crane’s Mill bridge via a switchback up the bluff to what is now the tip of the Lakeside Park, past the Game House and on up to the family home.   After lake water was impounded, the ranch entry was relocated near Crane’s Mill Road and Mystic Shores Boulevard. 

Well, how was that?   A tour of the original 711 headquarters without breaking a sweat…or seeing a snake. 


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