Mason was the hometown of the late Fred Gipson, author of Old Yeller. A statue of this famous canine stands in front of the Mason Public Library. The 1957 movie premiered in Mason’s historic Odeon Theater.
Like neighboring Llano, the land around Mason is rocky and dotted with granite. This area’s a favorite with rock hounds who come to Mason County today in search of topaz, the Texas state gem, and it’s a favorite for its barbecue joints as well.
This western Hill Country town began as a ranching community with a strong influence by German immigrants, becoming the county seat of Mason County. Fort Mason was established in 1851 as protection from attacks by Native Americans (mostly Comanches). A decade later, when the danger passed, the original fort was disbanded. A reconstruction of the fort now occupies a grassy hill overlooking the town of Mason. Some of the original sandstone from Fort Mason was repurposed in some of Mason’s buildings. Other rocks and gems are found in abundance in the Mason area including topaz which has been designated as the official Texas state gem. Rock hunters still prowl the area searching for topaz and other gemstones.
Old Yeller Statue. A statue of Old Yeller stands in front of the Mason County M. Beven Eckert Memorial Library. The famous story, which became a Disney movie, was written by Mason native Fred Gipson. The library also has a display of memorabilia about Fred Gipson and what just might be the saddest dog story of all time. 410 Post Hill Rd.
Fort Mason. Atop Post Hill overlooking the town Mason, these reconstructed stone buildings recall the days when Fort Mason was part of a line of forts built to repel attacks on settlers by Comanches. Although not open to your dog, the free museum contains uniforms and other military gear and a collection of historic photographs. South from the Mason County courthouse square. The quiet grounds make a nice place for a dog walk high above the town.
Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve. A natural cavern serves as home to millions of Mexican free-tail bats who emerge at dusk to feed on mosquitoes and other insects. From mid-spring until mid-autumn, visitors can gather to watch the evening display. Information on flight times and reservations for the tour are available through the Mason Chamber of Commerce. West on US 87, then south on RM 1723 to RM 2389.
Mason County Museum. This local history museum is housed in an 1887 elementary school. The contents include typical items used by area ranchers and housewives a century ago, from toys to needlework to farm equipment. 210 Bryan St.
Mason Square Museum. Rockhounds and casual visitors to this local history museum can ogle the largest blue topaz found in the nation as well as exhibits about the history of Mason County. 130 Fort McKavitt St.
Fort Mason. In 1851, Fort Mason was built on a hilltop to afford a better look at oncoming Comanches. (The post’s best-known soldier was Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee.) Constructed of sandstone, in 1869 the fort was dismantled and the salvaged stone was used to build local businesses and homes. Today this is a quiet spot; a reconstructed officers’ quarters has a back porch with a view of Mason and miles of Hill Country in the distance. Info: 204 West Spruce St.; (325) 347–5758. Free.
Old Yeller Statue. A statue of Old Yeller stands in front of the Mason County M. Beven Eckert Memorial Library. The famous story, which became a Disney movie, was written by Mason native Fred Gipson. Although your own Old Yeller can’t enter, you and your travel companion can take turns visiting the library to see the display of memorabilia about Fred Gipson and what just might be the saddest dog movie of all time. Info: 410 Post Hill Rd.; (325) 347-5446 or (325) 347-5232. Free.