Mason, Texas: Hill Country Home of the Legendary Tear-Jerker ‘Old Yeller’

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Located squarely in the heart of the Texas Hill Country is Mason, Texas. Agriculture reigns supreme in this close knit and quiet community, where the largest gem-quality topaz was discovered. Also cultivated in this small community was author, Fred Gipson, who wrote 12 books, two screenplays, 175 published articles, and four movies that were made based on his novels. One of Gipson’s most notable books was Old Yeller, which was later made into a Disney movie, that has tugged at the heartstrings of school age children (and adults) for generations.

Old Yeller–Making Grown Men Cry Since 1956

Old Yeller

Photo: Facebook/David Potter

The fictional account of Travis Coates and his beloved and faithful companion dog, Old Yeller, takes place in Gipson’s homeland of the Texas Hill Country. The character of “Old Yeller” was loosely based on a neighbor’s dog that Gipson knew growing up, named “Rattler.” Gipson spared no detail in describing the scenery of the Texas Hill Country, with its rugged and often unforgiving terrain, dangerous wildlife, and intriguing bat caves. Fans from around the world felt transported to the heartland of Texas via the words that Gipson used to paint a portrait of his home. The book won several awards, including the Newbury Honor in 1957–the same year that Disney released a film adaptation of the book.

Old Yeller Memorabilia on Display in Mason

Old Yeller

Photo: Facebook/I Love Texas

These days, the town of Mason pays homage to the man and the book that put this community on the map at its local library. At the Mason County Eckert Library, visitors can admire the bronze sculpture of the main characters in Old Yeller, that was created by Garland Weeks in 1999. Inside the library is a mini-museum featuring memorabilia from the career of Gipson, showcasing items from the Disney film’s production. Visitors can also buy Old Yeller themed souvenirs while there.

‘Old Yeller Days’ Held Every Fall in Mason

Mason Texas

Photo: Facebook/Mason, Texas

Early in the fall, Mason hosts a celebration of Fred Gipson and his work. The event, called, “Old Yeller Days” includes historical re-enactments, arts and crafts, demonstrations, and even a costume contest where children dress up like the famed characters from the book and parade around town, honoring the legacy of Mason’s famous citizen.