The tiny town of Bee Cave may sound new to some, but as Austin experiences growth in all directions, many families are choosing to grab a little slice of heaven just a short drive away from downtown Austin.
If the allure of country life has your eyes turned westward and away from the big city lights, Bee Cave might be the place for you to settle down — just like it was for a few folks a long, long time ago …
It all started when some hardy settlers in the area claimed land as their own in the latter part of the 19th century. One of these early settlers was Dietrich Bohls, who moved to the Bee Caves area in the 1850s in an effort to escape the big city lights of Austin and create a home in which to raise his family.
At the time, Austin was bursting at the seams with growth, and the population had exploded to nearly 900 in the town. The land out west of town was hostile and covered in Indian encampments, a dangerous sight to city dwellers and early wranglers of the land. However, a handful of German transplants would later call the Lake Travis area home, including many of the founding families of the Bee Caves area.
Families of the Frontier
Already well into his life at age 51, Heinrich Dietrich Bohls arrived in Texas from his native home in Germany aboard the ship Apollo on December 20, 1844.
Although it was his original intent to settle on land granted by the German Immigration Society, he ended up changing his mind and scoured this new-found land for a site suitable for his wife Annie Kramer Bohls and their three children.
He eventually purchased land just outside of the village of Austin, which would later be known as Rosewood Park in east Austin. As time progressed, growth in the town would push the German family further West.
Bohls found the site of his future homestead at the western edge of Travis County, where Little Barton Creek and Barton Creek came together. This area provided ample water for drinking and irrigation. (map)
After taking several days to hack his way into his land, he would transform the parcel into quite the estate — which would include several cabins, a smokehouse, a barn, a granary, sleeping quarters and a kitchen. The smokehouse still stands today. It’s a symbol of the early determination that transformed this land from the wild hills of the frontier to the Texas town it is today.
Without modern roads or electricity, the times were tough — especially for families who called these early tracts of undeveloped land “home.” Travel to our modern day cities of Bee Cave, Lakeway and Spicewood would take at least a full day’s trip by horse, and possibly more if traveling with children and cargo (funny how traveling with children hasn’t changed).
The few hardy families that managed to make this trek risked life and limb when encountering the endless dangers of the countryside — wildlife, American Indians and flash floods … just to name a few. Yet some did successfully make the journey and would be rewarded with green, lush land which proved suitable for farming. Even rockier topography covered in cedar trees would be transformed into self-sustaining farms and estates by these earliest settling families.
Other notable names that established the area include: Pecht, Moore, Brown, Cotton and Rohmiler. In fact, it was “Swede” Rohmiler, a stonemason and German or Swedish transport to the Bee Cave area, that built some of the original log and stone cabins that still stand today.
Among these were the Bohls cabins, which can be spotted from Highway 71 at the entrance to the Spanish Oaks subdivision. Just to the east of Bee Caves Road (2244) sits some of the original stone and log cabins that were the first homes in the rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country.
Rohmiler would go on to homestead over 80 acres of land that later became known as the Lake Pointe subdivision in Bee Cave. He proved to be a critical founding member of Western Lake Travis.
What About the Bee Caves?
By the 1880s, the land located near present day Ranch Road 620, Bee Caves Road and Highway 71 became home to a general store, trading post, gristmill, cotton gin, school and church. It doesn’t seem like much compared to the same area today, but this was the start of a growing community as travelers made their way to and from Austin.
As more people arrived it was discovered that the area around Little Barton Creek and Barton Creek was home to hordes of Mexican honey bees. The honey bees built large, grotesque nests along the banks of both creeks. Folks started to refer to the nests as “bee caves.” These bee caves must have been a sight, because after a while residents and travelers were beginning to refer to the area as the Bee Caves area.
The City of Bee Cave: Past & Present
The population of Bee Cave would dwindle to 10 in the 1890s, but by the early part of the 20th century it would increase to 54. In 1915 the post office was discontinued and around the same time the Bee Cave school consolidated with the Teck common school district, and then later Dripping Springs Independent School District in 1951.
During the 1980s, the place that was simply referred to as the Bee Caves area changed to the Village of Bee Cave when it became incorporated in 1987. In 2006 action was taken to change the official name of the town from the Village of Bee Cave to the City of Bee Cave — best said by shortening it to Bee Cave (or Bee Caves if you’re new in town).
The Hill Country Galleria is where you can find Bee Cave City Hall, Bee Cave Public Library, and plenty of local businesses for shopping, eating and entertainment.
Bee Cave Recreation
There’s never a shortage of outdoor activities for you to enjoy in the area. Be sure and check out Bee Cave Central Park, Bee Cave Sculpture Park and The Backyard at Bee Cave which has hosted the likes of Bob Dylan, the Allman Brothers and Willie Nelson.
And of course, Lake Travis and Lake Austin are just around the corner if you’re looking for some time in the water.
Bee Cave is a place where you can get the best of Hill Country lifestyle and still be within a short drive of downtown Austin. And don’t worry about the Mexican honey bees … they left a long time ago.
How about you?
Check out the Lake Travis Real Estate section for more information on historic landmarks, area neighborhoods, buying and selling tips, and local market conditions.
More information about The City of Bee Cave:
- The West Pole of Earth is located in Bee Cave, TX.
- Bee Cave is served by the Lake Travis Independent School District.
Perkins, Elaine. Hill County Paradise?: Travis County and Its Early Settlers. S.l.: Iuniverse, 2012. Print.
“Bee Cave Information.” Bee Cave, TX. BeeCaveTexas.com, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.
Smyrl, Vivian E. “BEE CAVE, TX.” SMYRL, VIVIAN ELIZABETH. Texas State Historical Association, 2010. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.