Lyndon Baines Johnson was born near Fredericksburg at a small homestead on the Pedernales River.
He and Lady Bird Johnson bought the adjacent ranch from LBJ’s aunt and created the LBJ Ranch where they lived out their lives and are buried there in a small family cemetery.
Most of the buildings were renovated to make guest houses. But not all.
The ranch land along the river has majestic oak trees.
The ranch house was small at first but many additions later it was quite large. It has been restored to the way it was during LBJ’s presidency, late 60’s for the most part.
The property is now a National Park but it is still a working ranch complete with the breeding herd of registered Hereford cows, a few lucky bulls and lots of calves.
Each had their horns engraved with LBJ on one and a number on the other.
They all seemed to know when and where lunch was being served.
Their eye lashes were pretty amazing. This one must have been pretty young, no horns yet.
After driving though the ranch the house tours started at the airplane hanger.
This is the mini Airforce One. Sometimes they called it Airforce One Half. It was way bigger than the hanger but must have been a tight squeeze for the 6′-4″ tall president.
Here is my First Lady coming down the stairs doing the Queen wave.
While LBJ was in congress they added an airstrip so that they could fly in and out of the ranch. When he became President the airstrip was lengthened to accommodate bigger aircraft but the ground underneath was not strong enough for full sized jets. So they used a smaller jet or helicopters to ferry the president and his staff and visitors to the ranch from Austin or San Antonio.
While LBJ was president he spent about 20% of his time at the ranch. His barbecues were famous for entertaining guests and setting the stage for getting things done. LBJ’s presidency was one of the most productive administrations.
Small groups were led through the house, no pictures, please. It was back to the 60’s. Many small rooms and lots of doors, mostly part of the many additions. Many rooms had three TV sets, one for each network of those days. PBS came about because of legislation passed during the LBJ administration.
The kitchen was surprisingly small and old looking. There was a separate room just for beer. And walk in coolers in a separate building. Lady Bird’s bedroom was huge. LBJ’s closet was filled with hats and boots, his bedroom had three TV sets and dozens of ceiling mounted lights and almost as many switches. And phones in every room, even a princess phone mounted to the dining room table leg next to where LBJ sat and many more in his bedroom. They all had dials.
We forget what the world was like not too long ago. Miraculous compared to what our grandparents experienced. Very outdated compared to what we know today.
Both LBJ and Lady Bird lived their final days at the ranch. LBJ died in his bedroom. Both are buried in the family cemetery at the ranch.
There are lots of places to see. Sometimes these kind of places are important to see. They put into perspective what life was like for some at different times and the environment our leaders found themselves in at the time. We have been to Mount Vernon and to Monticello and a recreation of Lincoln’s log cabin birthplace. Probably lots more to see, we just have to stop.
Roger and Susan