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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Llano

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Tony Maples Photography


5 Things You Didnt Know About Llano

Llano is situated on the Llano River in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. It has a population of approximately 3,000 and is the county seat of Llano County. It was founded in 1855, and buildings from the 1800s still remain, as the city is committed to retaining a significant portion of its western roots and history.

Although it’s a small town, visitors can find many interesting things to do in and around the area, including fishing, hunting, hiking, rock hunting, bird watching, shopping, golfing, boating and swimming at the local lakes, wine tasting and touring the local historic homes. Here are a few more things you probably didn’t know about Llano but should definitely check out.

1. Red Top Jail

5 Things You Didnt Know About Llano

Photo: preservationtexas.org

Red Top Jail was built in 1895 and still has its original hanging gallows inside today. When it was first built and used as a jail, it had eight jail cells. Each cell could hold up to four prisoners, and they slept on hammocks. The first floor of the structure housed the jailer’s family, and the hanging gallows were located in the tower. It was used as the county jail until 1982.

Because people were executed in this structure, it’s not surprising to hear reports of paranormal activity at the site. Various “ghost hunters” have set up equipment in the Red Top and recorded extrasensory activity including electronic voice projections and photographs of orbs and ghostly figures. The nonprofit organization Friends of the Red Top Jail, hosted a haunted house for about 600 kids in 2008, and they believe this event resulted in recent paranormal sightings.

The structure is currently undergoing renovations, but it will open to the public in 2015.

2. Bald Eagles

5 Things You Didnt Know About Llano

Photo: Flickr /David Schenfeld

During the winter months, nature watchers might catch a glimpse of a pair of bald eagles nesting in trees off Highway 29, about nine miles east of Llano. This pair has migrated to the area to build their nest for years, and they stir up a lot of interest from onlookers when they arrive. The Texas Highway Department graded an area along the road to allow parking for visitors to safely view and photograph the eagles.

In 2014, a storm blew down the huge nest, but the eagles returned and built a new nest in the same area. The average size of a nest is approximately 9 feet by 12 feet and frequently weigh over a ton.

The nest is approximately 120 yards off the highway to the south, and mornings are always the best time to view the eagles as they are the most active at that time.

3. The Deer Capital of Texas

5 Things You Didnt Know About Llano

Photo: Flickr /Matthew Paulson

Llano is known as the Deer Capital of Texas for good reason: you can find an abundance of white tailed deer in the area during the fall and winter seasons. Every November and December, thousands of deer hunters pour into the town seeking a trophy buck. The city of Llano estimates their town’s population jumps from around 3,000 to almost 8,000 during hunting season.

The Llano Chamber of Commerce hosts a hunter appreciation event the first Friday in November, before deer season opens. They provide maps, information, prizes, raffles and refreshments all day. Hunters new to the area should contact the City of Llano for information on hunting licenses and leases well before deer season opens with any questions or concerns.

4. Chuck Wagon Cook-Off

5 Things You Didnt Know About Llano

Photo: llanochuckwagoncookoff.com

Want to eat like a cowboy? Check out the annual Chuck Wagon Cook-Off. It began in 2005, when a group of chuck wagon enthusiasts got together on the banks of the Llano River to hang out, cook and have a great time. This group is passionate about getting back to the town’s roots and reliving an era when the west was settled. These enthusiasts use traditional cooking methods from that era, wear traditional dress and compete for prizes in categories including authenticity, meat, beans, potatoes, bread and dessert.

The weekend-long event takes place in Badu Park in October, and it is open to the public. If you plan on joining the fun, get your tickets early, and they always sell out.

5. Llano Country Opry

5 Things You Didnt Know About Llano

Photo: Flickr /Carlos Lowry

The Opry in Llano? Yes – once a month, Llano goes country and hosts the Llano Country Opry. The town’s historic Lan-Tex theater serves as the perfect venue for a night of music featuring country and western performers from around Texas and around the U.S. The show is sponsored by the Heart of Texas Country Music Association, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting country music throughout the area.

Many country legends have appeared on the Llano Country Opry Stage, including Johnny Wright and Kitty Wells.