"GAMBLER WITH HEART" by Mac Abel . . .

 

1971-1972

Selecting a sales organization that could market resort property was laborious and complicated. National Homes, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and one of the nation’s largest prefabricated homes concerns, was selected. Norman, believing if they were going to be the selling agents for Horseshoe Bay lots began pressing for a contract guarantee. Wayne was dubious. Nonetheless, Norman, remaining firm in his opinion, continued determinedly to negotiate.

That guarantee was based upon required minimum lot sales at minimum prices, to yield minimum annual figure. If a specific volume of lots were not sold, National would pay cash penalties to Lake L.B.J. Improvement Company. It was not entirely lot sales. But National’s default payments that paid for the initial improvement…virtually the total improvements in the original Horseshoe Bay.

That contract also secured and provided a factoring agent. It is absolutely necessary to factor the paper from lot sales. The factoring agent, General Electric Credit Corporation, was responsible for the initial financing.

In 1970 the Lake L.B.J. Improvements Corporation, the developing company, was formed by Norman who served as its president, and its only executive officer during the development of Horseshoe Bay. Hurd Properties, Inc. the purchasing corporation, was formed by Wayne for convenience, and simplification of bookkeeping and taxes. As organizer and controlling officer of Lake L.B.J. Improvement Corporation, Norman and Dorothy essentially completed the original Horseshoe Bay, organized the sales, as well as solely obtaining a guaranteed annual flow of income from lot sales.

Before 1970 had passed, Norman and Sid McClendon had completed the Horseshoe Bay Declaration of Reservations, by which the Horseshoe Bay Property Owners Association and the Horseshoe Bay Committee of Architecture was formed.

Wayne recalls an interesting incident concerning the airport during the negotiations that long night with National. It seems they managed to get Norman and him to agree they would build a runway long enough to land a fully loaded DC-9 from Chicago. (Originally a runway of about 3,700 feet long was planned.)

It was difficult to find anyone who would specify a length necessary for that purpose. American Airlines and Branif agreed their criteria were, they would land a chartered DC-9 on any runway on which another DC-9 had landed.

A chief engineer with a New York engineering firm overseeing the construction of the new Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport furnished volumes of data about the various models of DC-9’s but nothing that would tell them how long a runway was needed to land that DC-9!

Finally, an engineer with Ozark Airlines in St. Louis, from whom National had been chartering planes to bring people to Austin, furnished a letter saying they would land a fully loaded plane at Horseshoe Bay, having been told the altitude on a 6,000 foot runway; on return they would take-off from Horseshoe Bay and land for refueling in Dallas.

It was necessary to blast and push the runway off the end of the hill in order to reach 6,000 feet! National never brought in a DC-9…but Horseshoe Bay has, without a doubt, one of the finest private airstrips in the state of Texas!

The Horseshoe Bay Property Owners Association was established and managed from 1970 to 1974 by a valid board until reliable property owners could be gradually selected to assume authority. The board consisted of Ralph Giesecke, Wayne Hurd, Clayton Nolen, and Eileen Hurd who served as the P.O. A. Secretary, bookkeeper, file clerk, and treasurer. On March 23, 1974, an organization meeting was held and elected Ed M. Handley, President, Charles A. Heldridge, Vice President, Charles M. Wallace, Vice President, Clayton Nolen, Secretary and Ralph Giesecke, Treasurer who would hold the distinction of being the first official P.O. A. Board of Directors.

The original full-time developing crew consisted of Norman and Dorothy Hurd, Frank Dan King, Horseshoe Bay Project Manager (Norman’s nephew), Bill Lucy, Assistant to Frank King (son-in-law), and Cheron Lucy, Office Manager (daughter of Norman & Dorothy).

On September 8, 1970, the Lower Colorado River Authorities announcing the level of Lake L.B.J. would be lowered 31 feet left lake area residents troubled. The lowering would take 30 days. The work would continue over a period of six months. Refilling the lake was estimated at 30 days, with the lake up again before the 1971 summer season.

L.C.R.A. officials explained the lowering of the lake was necessitated by excavation of a canal to the new thermal plant and for construction work the floodgates at Wirtz Dam. Lake area residents worried about water supplies as few had wells and most water systems pumped from the lake.

More controversy arose when Texas Parks and Wildlife announced a fish kill with rotenone powder to take place before the lake was refilled. The purpose was to improve the fishing after the killing of the so-called "Trash Fish" and restocking the lake.

As the water descended, grocers stocked quantities of bottled water. Lake communities constructed long pipelines down to the waterline, adding pipe as the water level went down. Residents hoped conditions would soon improve fearing serious damage to golf courses and lawns. As if they hadn’t had enough, when construction started on the proposed new plant, lake residents were literally "shakend to pieces: from blasting at the plant site.

Next came the announcement from L.C.R.A. of a 3,000 foot long dike of rip-rap construction to protrude five feet above water, extending out into the lake, would be built to provide a cooling area for hot water from the proposed new power plant. Ecologists were concerned about this development and negotiations were going on between the L.C.R.A. and the Hurd Interests. Developers of nearby Oakridge were paid $86,000 for 61 acres needed for transmission lines for the new plant.

In October of 1970, the Lower Colorado River Authorities announced a power plant was to be built on Lake L.B.J. adjacent, actually within, the "Coke Ranch." They were going to acquire an 800-foot wide easement for power lines to run diagonally through the ranch, bisecting the proposed golf course. The very heart of the development! Understandably, the strong protest from the Hurds.

L.C.R.A. threatened condemnation. Mr. Sam Gideon, their general manager and ex-attorney, ran the authority with an iron hand. He "was" the authority. After multiple sessions concerning a settlement, a decision was finally reached from conditions Norman formulated and Wayne presented.

L.C.R.A. would move their easements to the west boundary of the ranch, along the highway.

Hurd Properties would have access through the plant-site to some of the property that had been cut off by the plant-site.

L.C.R.A. would build a long dike off the end of the cut-off land and until it reached the water property line of the ranch, the dike would be made a usable width of 200 feet.

Hurd Properties would have the right to build a lighthouse at the end of their dike and plant palm trees on it. (Now know as Lighthouse Drive.)

L.C.R.A. would not object to the placement of fill in the lake to add to the shoreline.

While the lake was down, Norman and Dorothy hired Bill Chaney to do hundreds of tons of earth moving in the lake bottom which resulted in an additional mile of shoreline to Horseshoe Bay. It also resulted in creating several peninsulas, on which was constructed "The Beach House" located approximately 100 yards beyond "The Inn" bearing left off Horseshoe Bay Blvd. The "Cape" is located by Bearing approximately 75 yards to the left, then right, continuing on behind the Yacht Club.

During that time, Wayne joined Norman, who was walking the lake bottom to determine a dredging program for the safety of boats and shoreline shapes which he was studying. During the walk, Wayne found an old rusty horseshoe. Picking it up and handing it to Norman, he suggested the name "Horseshoe" be used for the new development. Norman studied it, placed it in the position of the curving shoreline and replied, "Add bay to that", and thus was born the name "Horseshoe Bay". But the name was only the beginning.

Original plans were to have a privately owned utility company furnish water and sewer services. After considering the scope of the project, it was decided these services best be furnished by a utility district. A law firm and an engineering firm from Houston were retained to organize and obtain state approval for use of the L.B.J. Municipal Utility District. State approval was granted.

In November of 1971, John Babcok, Lower Colorado River Authorities’ Chief of Environment, announced Deerhaven, Blue Lake Estates and Horseshoe Bay had been chosen for important pilot surveys in conjunction with the agency’s new septic tank policing, by reason of their different representative soil and occupancy characteristics. The main purpose of the pilot program was to firm up costs of applications and procedures.

Mr. Babcok, in commenting on the central sewage installed at Horseshoe Bay observed, "You wouldn’t need a septic tank order if other sub-divisions had this." The self-contained system to which he referred was a first for any sub-division on Lake Lyndon B. Johnson. They were granted a permit from the Texas Water Quality Board to treat up to 100,000 gallons a day at it’s plant, adequate to serve 1, 150 people or 400 houses. The system guaranteed Horseshoe Bay population did not contribute to pollution of the lakes. Once again Horseshoe Bay had set a pattern everyone else would soon follow!

Licenses granted by L.C.R.A. in the first 200 feet of property away from the lakes…the "restricted zone"…were good for two years. Licenses in the next 2000 feet or "water quality" zone…were good for five years.

On July 5, 1971, as provided in the Declaration of Reservations, Lake L.B.J. Improvement Corporation appointed a Committee of Architecture consisting of Norman Hurd, Frank King, and W.K. (Bill) Lucy. Upon the resignation of Norman, Wayne became his replacement.

Jim Leming was hired in 1971 to help supervise the installation of utilities. With assistance from the developers, Leming founded the Horseshoe Bay Fire Department and served as its first chief for several years. Upon the formation of the Lake L.B.J. Utility District by Norman and a group of lawyers, Norman served as president and chairman of the board for several years. Later turning it over to Leming whom served, as it’s first manager.

Jeanie De Alba, wife of Raul De Alba, salesman for the developers during the 70;s, was extremely concerned over the lack of medical facilities; so much so in fact, at her own expense, she attended classes in Austin and became qualified as Horseshoe Bay’s E.M.T., Special Skills Technician. In time, Jeanie began training other volunteers, organizing the Horseshoe Bay Emergency Medical Services, working closely with the Fire Department to become the first director. In recognition of her dedication, excluding the obvious necessity, Frank and Sheila Thompson donated Horseshoe Bay’s first fully equipped ambulance to E.M.S.! The E.M.S. and fire department are now under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Utility District.

Horseshoe Bay’s security was originally funded and controlled by Horseshoe Bay Country Club and supervised by Tom Stotts, Horseshoe Bay’s first policeman. This service was later transferred to the Horseshoe Bay Property Owners Association, where it remained for several years. When it was determined the Municipal Utility District had the authority to operate a police department, the security function was transferred to that agency.

The grand opening of the Yacht Club, December 15, 1971, was a spectacular daylong celebration. Hundreds of palm trees, reaching over 30 feet in height, imported from Florida, were planted all along the shoreline and esplanade leading to the Yacht Club from the entrance gate, which was surrounded by three beautiful lakes.

Lavishly furnished and designed by architects Mr. David George of Dallas and Mr. Ron Bradshaw, the Yacht Club featured, as it does today, the finest amenities. These include four fireplaces, a recreation room, and main bar, highlighted by a 100 year old English clock made of wrought iron and milk white glass weighing over 700 pounds. The clock came from Kin Knights Barricks on Knightsbridge Street, an old tower in London. The mechanisms of the clock and it’s weight protrude through the wall in the main bar area, serving as a kinetic sculpture.

In spite of the freezing rain, more than 3,500 persons registered at the spacious resort community. Buses from Houston, Corpus Christi and other points from over the state, brought out-of-the-area people who mingled with local Highland Laker’s to enjoy their first visit to the new community.

Boat rides, prizes, bus tours, professional golf exhibitions by Paul Han and entertainment by magician Frank Everharts continued throughout the day and evening while piping hot goodies and a spectacular gourmet buffet was continually serviced. Needless to say, the six miles of lake frontage on which the 17,750 square foot club is located was alive with enthusiasm, as excited visitors took advantage of the luxurious surroundings to enjoy Horseshoe Bay’s impressive hospitality. The club has since been enlarged to 28,000 square feet.

A monumental task was completed when "The Highlander" newspaper reached the news st6and and homes that week with its special full color Horseshoe Bay supplement. Management reported astonishing facts. To produce the paper and it’s special supplement required a whopping 11,625 pounds of paper. That’s more than 5 tons! Since the press could accommodate only a few pages at a time in one section, it had to be handled several times, taking three solid days. Enough paper was used to almost completely cover 300 acres of land. If stretched out, it would form a path 23 inches wide and more than 528,760 feet long. The equivalent of over 100 miles!

An estimated 40,000 to 60,000 readers, living in all 50 states and several foreign countries would, as a result of those efforts, become aware of Highland Lakes’ Horseshoe Bay Project. What a tribute! Not only to Horseshoe Bay, but to the staff of the areas’ important newspaper…"The Highlander!"

Among many of Horseshoe Bay’s numerous facilities, aside from the magnificent Yacht Club, was it’s marina, tennis court, sandy beach, and an eye-catching swimming pool coated in black marble. The pool appeared to be a deep Abyss, steel blue in color and spring fed. The deck area, made from natural limestone, was equally unique and appealing.

A 6,000 foot airstrip capable of handling DC-9 jets and facilities for property owners to park their private aircraft directly into backyard hangers. An extremely difficult task to produce, consisting of blasting away two mountain tops, installation of a large crusher for reducing the blasted rock for base and huge earth-moving machines for thousands and thousand of cubic yards of fill.

An 18-hole champion golf course, with challenging golf, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. including a pro-shop known as "Slick Rock".

60 well designed condominiums all with stone fireplaces.

A marina to handle 250 craft, with deep channels and four breakwaters for protection.

A 55-foot high lighthouse, the largest in the state and the island’s most distinctive inland fixture was erected to serve as an observation point. Located at the end of a long peninsula which serves as a breakwater jetty, it’s elaborate sound system, with Westminster chimes, announces the hour. A landmark on Lake L.B.J. it provides Horseshoe Bay and boating enthusiasts an easy recognizable point of reference.

Stables with tack room, club bar, 16 st6alls and riding trails.

Underground utilities for the first phase only, accounting for 35 miles of wire.

35 miles of paved streets with the main boulevard 80 feet wide and main arteries 50 feet and sub-arteries 24 feet.

Four lakes within the Horseshoe Bay community created by damming up year-round running Slick Rock Creek

An entryway on Horseshoe Bay Blvd. off Highway 2147 with lakes on all sides with foundations in each.

But that was then, and now is now, and I like to think somewhere close by, on that opening day, Norman stood quietly by in deep thought, thinking of Cervante’s immortal words, "Thou hath seen nothing yet!"


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Revised: April 17, 2010

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