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The Crain’s Mill and Luckenbach Connections

On November 5, 1949, Mr. L. A. Nordan began accumulating land for the 711 Ranch with the purchase of acreage on the banks of the Guadalupe River at old Cranes Mill Road. The Cranes Mill settlement was named for James B. Crain, who built a mill in the 1850’s and established the area’s first post office in 1857 at Gum Spring Crossing on the Guadalupe. The “Crane” spelling was adopted after the Civil War. 

Most of the first 711 Ranch purchase was from the estate of August W. Engel. Mr. Engel’s father was a minister from Prussia, owner of the first General Store in the Luckenbach, and also the first postmaster of the Cranes Mill post office after the Civil War and owner of the local general store in 1872.   Mr. Engel’s sister married Albert Luckenbach of same-town fame, and his brother was also an active part of Luckenbach’s history. August moved to Cranes Mill in 1890, where he took over the General Store and served as postmaster from 1905 – 1935. 

The old Engel house and store were located on 711 pasture lands now under water just north of today’s Cranes Mill Park. The park and surrounding lands were acquired from the Nordans for the construction of Canyon Lake. 

Gum Spring, which powered Crain’s mill, is located east of the old 711 Ranch headquarters below the Lakeside Park. The spring emerged from the rocks like a fire hose, and the young ladies of the ranch moved many rocks to create a cold, refreshing swimming hole.   Gum Spring is still visibly flowing under Canyon Lake, perhaps the only physical remnant of the rich Cranes Mill and Engel history. 

Sources: Brenda Lindemannn, local historian, and Rae Schlater, employee of the 711 Ranch-Comal from 1958 - 1985


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