History of Rock and Rail
The high quality of the limestone deposit in Medina County was first recognized in the mid-1800s. According to the History of Medina County, written by the Castro Colonies Heritage Association, Inc., “Stone suitable for building and ornamental purposes is abundant in several formations of which the limestone especially is of remarkable quality. Almost all of the oldest hand carved tombstones in the county, as well as the first rock buildings, are of this material.”
The Medina County Courthouse, a Texas Historical Landmark, “was constructed of limestone quarried from north of Hondo and donated for the project,” according to the Hondo Chamber of Commerce Web site. Originally built in 1892, the courthouse’s “architecture is classical revival with influences of the Italianate style.” The Texas Historical Commission sign in front of the courthouse today says, “Limestone with a slightly yellowish cast was secured about six miles north of town from the ranch of Joe Decker.”
County roads also were built with limestone materials. The History of Medina County states, “Materials for use of roads are found in almost unlimited amounts. Civil engineers declare Medina County road materials to be some of the best in Texas.”
The Medina Dam was built almost 100 years ago with the help of local limestone. According to Medina County TXGenWeb, a Web site which documents the state’s genealogy, “Builders of the Medina Dam were fortunate in having a large quarry nearby. Large limestone boulders, called plums, were added to the concrete laid, thus economically increasing the bulk of the dam. The entire system is in operation today, irrigating fields in Bexar, Medina and Atascosa counties of Texas.”
While limestone materials helped build the physical structures of Medina County, the railroad is what led to the economic development of the largely uninhabited county west of San Antonio. In the 1880s the towns of New D’Hanis, Hondo, La Coste, Dunlay, Devine and Natalia were established along new rail lines. The Handbook of Texas Online says, “Property values tripled during that time.” The Medina County Museum is now located in the restored Southern Pacific Depot in Hondo. There is an historic box car on the front lawn, a tribute to the county’s roots.
Medina County residents cherish their heritage as much as any community in Texas. Martin Marietta is proud to add to that history by developing a project that meshes with the historical culture and values of the community, while providing benefits to current and future residents. Our Medina County quarry will provide limestone materials for new buildings and construction in the same way local leaders did more than 100 years ago, and we will use the time-honored tradition of railroad to distribute our products with minimal disruption to local residents. Ultimately, we hope our project will lead to economic development and increased prosperity for future generations in Medina County.