“I used to fish here quite a bit [and] caught my biggest bass of my life under the bridge,” said Canyon Lake native Ronald Lowe. “A tree had washed down, got stuck on a pylon, I threw a spinner bait just past it and caught a seven-pound, seven-ounce bass way back in the late ’90s.”
“I kayaked 311 to Rebecca Creek last winter,” said Jason Gillett of Canyon Lake, noting that it took nine-and-a-half hours because his group was fishing and it “is a twisty stretch of river” that included “six sets of rapids, four of which we had to portage over.” (Right: Drainage areas on either side of the FM 311 bridge over the Guadalupe provide easy access to the river and a regularly used by people to move boats or tubes down to it.)
That this spot is publicly known to have any historic significance, however, is largely tribute to a Texas Historical Commission marker that was erected nearby in 2013 (top right). Local historian Brenda Anderson Lindemann, author of Spring Branch and Western Comal County, Texas, 1858-1998, was instrumental in getting that marker placed and compiled the information for the article titled “Esser’s Crossing at Wesson” on the Comal County Historical Commission section of the Comal County website. Wesson was a community founded on the banks of the Guadalupe in the mid-19th century by settler Charles Esser but which, according to the Texas State Historical Association, has been a “ghost community” since World War II.
“Esser's Crossing is one of the four key bridges in the Spring Branch area that helped bridge traffic and commerce in our area,” said Paula Rieker, who assisted Lindemann with her book and whose current personal focus is on the history of the 711 Ranch, now site of the Mystic Shores development. “It is the oldest bridge in our area and only the second high-water bridge in the county.” (Right: A high-water wood and wrought-iron bridge was built at Esser’s crossing and served the area for half a century before being condemned and replaced. Photo courtesy Comal County Historical Commission.)
“The original crossing was an area of flat rocks in the river, where it was safe to enter the river … and pass over [it] in a wagon,” Rieker said. “You can look down at the river and still visualize the original crossing. Esser hosted travelers at his home and on his grounds as a ‘way station’ from New Braunfels to points north.” (Right: In 1858 German immigrant Charles Esser homesteaded and purchased property near the crossing and then provided a public way-station. Photo courtesy Comal County Historical Commission.)
Today, this spot is apparently and somewhat inexplicably held to be a “secret” by any number of Canyon Lake residents. A post on the “Everything Canyon Lake TX” Facebook group asking for information about it was, in fact, responded to with crying-face and angry-face emojis, veiled threats, and complaints that if “town” people learned about it they would spoil it and throw trash everywhere.
Significant amounts of trash in the parking area that never made it into conveniently-placed barrels, however, indicate that some locals already have littering covered, and the 1:10:100 rule for social media interaction suggests, based on the number of responses to posts about the spot, that some thousands of people know about it already. (This article appeared for the first time in the Canyon Lake section of the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung newspaper.)
And, whatever proprietary feelings anyone might have toward the spot, general manager Mike Dussere of the Water-Oriented Recreation District of Comal County — the agency that placed the trash barrels at the site — said the space leading down to the river on either side of the bridge is a public right-of-way. So, anyone so inclined can pause to enjoy Esser’s Crossing, either for what it has to offer today or the role it has played in the history of our area.