The lure of the road sign that pointed northeast toward “Wizard Wells” finally became too much to ignore. I’ve seen that sign for years … and wondered about it … but I never took time to investigate. Curiosity got the better of us, so we detoured from Highway 114 in Jack County. You probably won’t find this “town” in the tourist guidebooks about Texas … it’s just another hidden gem in my neck of the woods.
The historical marker at this well proclaims that the Kiowa Indians first discovered the healing properties of the mineral waters in the area. In the 1870s, a fellow by the name of George Washington Vineyard settled here. He dug a well, but didn’t use the water for drinking. I suppose the minerals made it have a strange taste. However, Vineyard discovered that those mineral waters “miraculously” healed ulcers on his legs! Shazaaam!
Word got around about that healing, and before you know it everyone with any kind of ailment was “off to see the wizard.” At first, the travelers camped along nearby Bean Creek, but it didn’t take long before an enterprising entrepreneur put in a hotel and bath house. Before the end of the century the population of “Vineyard,” as the town was then called, had increased dramatically. The town had three hotels, several bath houses, an assortment of churches, a newspaper, a school, a sawmill, the blacksmith shop, and a post office!
Looking at it these days, you wouldn’t guess that. There are the remnants of the bath house, the well, the dilapidated ruins of the general store, and one of the hotels that has been made into a house. Perhaps about 60 people live there. I suppose the town dwindled because the Rock Island Railroad by-passed it in 1898. Losing traffic from the railroads seemed to spell the death of many a small Texas town.
I was enchanted by a meditation labyrinth that has been constructed beside the well. I bet they didn’t have that in the 1800s.
Is it worth a four mile detour? We liked Wizard Wells, but you would just have to make the trip and decide for yourself.