Friday, March 20, 2009

Alligators Along the San Gabriel

Alligators were common along the San Gabriel in the early 1800s; when the Santa Fe Expedition crossed the San Gabriel just east of Georgetown in 1841, members of the party spent an afternoon shooting alligators in the river. Jack Berry shot a seven-foot alligator at the mouth of Berry Creek near Towns Mill in 1870 and a three-foot alligator was killed there in 1883 (Scarbrough, 1973). A major branch of the San Gabriel is Alligator Creek, which drains an area southeast of Salado. The creek was named for the abundance of alligators found along its banks. A rural community named Alligator was established near Alligator Creek in 1892. By the end of the 19th century, alligators had largely disappeared from the river.

One of the last records of an alligator on the San Gabriel was a large one trapped in Blue Hole at Georgetown around 1897. Jeff Ake, a local fisherman, and ten-year old Bob Gaines knew that an alligator was in Blue Hole. Gaines, who was interviewed in 1973, reported that Ake had two hooks about a foot long welded together. He baited the hooks with a soft-shelled turtle and attached them to a chain and rope, which he secured to a large tree. The alligator took the bait, and was caught, but a team of horses was required to pull the alligator from the water (Scarbrough, 1973).

Reference: Scarbrough, Clara Stearns. 1973. Land of Good Water (Takachue Pouetsu) : a Williamson County, Texas, History. Georgetown, TX, Williamson County Sun Publishers.

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