While working on an article about viewing bluebonnets in the Hill Country, the Willow City Loop came up came up often in our research. We dug some more and found Willow City has an interesting history beyond its scenery. With that said, we’re taking a closer look at the history and heritage of this Hill Country village.

Originally named Willow, the settlement was founded in the late 1850s. While most of the towns in the Hill Country were settled by German immigrants, Willow’s founding citizens were mostly English-speaking people from the American South. As a result, many Willow folk preferred to trade in Austin, which was a grueling 75-mile trip. This was because more people in Austin spoke English, and those in Willow were uneasy trying to conduct business in German in closer towns.

In 1877, Willow earned its post office, and ten years later the town’s name was changed to Willow City. While an ambitious change, the town has never in its history claimed more than 135 people; today, its population is around 75.

Willow City quickly gained a rowdy reputation. What we consider picturesque surroundings today were seen as ideal hideouts for less-than-savory characters in the 1870s and 1880s. As a result, the town became known as a roost for outlaws and their bad behavior. One of the town’s earliest teachers, John Warren Hunter, once had to struggle with a student who brought a revolver to prove his point! Perhaps as a result of this reputation, the town didn’t form a church congregation until 1885, and the Methodists didn’t build a church until 1900.

The first schoolhouse in Willow City was erected in the late 1870s, a log-cabin affair that didn’t last very long. When the school district became independent in 1905, a new two-story sandstone school was built. Local children were educated there until the district was consolidated with Fredericksburg in 1961. The Willow City 1905 School was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, and still stands at its original location at 2501 Ranch Road 1323, Willow City, TX 78675. Inquiries about the school can be directed to (830) 685-3385.

Like Willow City, every town in the Hill Country has played its own role in local history! For travelers with a passion for historical sites and museums, we’ve given the Texas Hill Country Travel App a portal just for you. Once you’ve added the free download, select the town or towns of your choice and choose the “Museums” category; that’s where we’ve listed the places of historical interest.

We have a couple notes about the Willow City Loop itself. To get there from Fredericksburg, take Texas Highway 16 (Llano Street) 13 miles north to Willow City. Turn right on Ranch Road 1323 and drive three miles, then turn left onto the Willow City Loop. From Llano, take Texas Highway 16 (Ford Street) south for about 20 miles, then turn left onto Willow City Loop. While the loop’s roads are maintained by the county, the land itself is privately-owned. Please dispose of trash properly, and make it a point not to damage any roadside property during your visit. Finally, weekends are by far the most popular time for people to visit the Willow City Loop. If you can, schedule your tour on a weekday; if that isn’t feasible, be prepared for considerably more traffic.

We’ve arranged Hill Country getaways for everything from romantic escapes to big gatherings like weddings and reunions. Take a look at our Hill Country Travel App to start exploring this beautiful area.