New Wilderness Camp Given Scout Council

John W. Gibbons And Wife Donate San Saba Tract

(Brownwood Bulletin - April 6, 1947)

John Gibbons and Collie dog Prince"Camp Billy Gibbons" will become a permanent wilderness summer camp for Boy Scouts of Comanche Trail Council.  It will be a new and larger "Camp Billy Gibbons" on a site given free of all cost to the council by Mr. and Mrs. John W. Gibbons.  Mr. Gibbons, son of the late "Uncle Billy Gibbons, is vice-president of the Comanche Trail Council," and the new camping grounds will be located on his 18,000 acre ranch.

The campsite will have one mile of waterfront on beautiful Brady Creek with dense wilderness of liveoak, cedar and mesquite in the most rugged part of San Saba county.

G. N. Quirl, executive of the council, spent the past week with Lampasas County Surveyor W. T. Moore, running lines on the acreage to be deeded by Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons to the council.  Mr. Gibbons, who is known to Scouts and Scouters as "Uncle John," helped stake the corners of the triangular shaped tract of land where the new camp will be located.  He stopped shearing sheep to aid in getting the surveying crew underway.

Scouts of the council will have access to approximately 38,000 acres of ranch land on the Gibbons ranches owned by Mr. and Mrs. John Gs and Mr. and Mrs. Harold Gibbons, the latter a grandson of "Uncle Billy" Gibbons.

Road Work Set

Work will start this week on improving a road to the area and as soon as that is ready, construction will begin on rock buildings for the camp. 

Deed to the property not yet completed, will call for 100 acres, "more or less."

That doesn't describe the gift, Mr. Quirl emphasized.

He said, "I think we have got a wonderful layout.  The territory has more wilderness, more waterfront, more wild animal and bird life.  We jumped seven deer down there the day before yesterday. "

The surveying crew -- which included four Scouts from Troop 34, Richland Springs, of which J. B. Boler is scoutmaster -- had to hack its way through the dense tree growth to run the land lines.

The triangle of dense woods and waterfront is bounded on the south by a mile of Brady Creek, including what is known as "Blue Hole," a beautiful half-mile long pool.  An eight-foot dam at the base of this pool will provide water as deep as eight or ten feet and backing up possibly three-fourths of a mile.  Upper reaches of the waterfront has shoals, and there will be pools of varying depth for the three phases of Scouting's water program.

All along the south side of the stream, limestone cliffs rise 83 to 100 feet, marking the south boundary of the new Scout paradise.

Apex of the new site is below the "Blue Hole" and the broad base of the triangle is at the opposite or upper end.

Tree Growth Heavy

Plum HollowThe area extends through dense woods over rough and rocky terrain to include what is known as Plum Hollow, a canyon which runs along inside the Scout reservation for the length of the property, about one mile long.  North of this and midway of the area, another canyon, not yet named, bisects the tract for some distance before emptying into Plum Hollow.  There are springs in Plum Hollow which give it a stream in wet weather, but in dry weather the stream dries up.

Everywhere are dense forests of cedar, liveoak and other tree growth.

It is proposed to build near the center of the property and to scatter troop tents at widely separated points over the area.  This will provide isolation for individual troops attending summer camp.

As soon as the road is improved, work will begin on buildings.

Native Rock for Hall

The main structure will be a combination mess hall and assembly hall, 100 by 40 feet in size, of native rock and concrete construction.  This will have no partition and will be so arranged that it can be used for either purpose, or one end for the mess hall and the other end for assemblies.

Off at one corner of this large building will be erected a first aid room, and at the other end will be an office and canteen.

These construction projects, being placed together, will provide a unit camp center.

Materials from the abandoned camp, which is located 4 1/2 or 5 miles down Brady Creek from the new site, will be salvaged in the construction project, especially lumber.

To build present structures at the abandoned camp, sand and gravel were freighted 18 miles.  At the new campsite, there are unlimited quantities of sand, gravel and rock for construction use, Mr. Quirl said.  This will cut down the cost of building the new camp.

The new building will have windows and doors so they can be locked up when ot in use and can e used for year round Scouting activities.  Certain winter activities will be held there.

Road To Camp

John Gibbons as they look over new campTo reach the new site, the same road out of Richland Springs will be followed.  A route which leads to within one mile of the Richland Springs Caverns turns to the left to reach the new site.  Overall distance to the new camp will be about the same as to the abandoned site.

Comanche Trail Council has surrendered its 25 year lease on the old 25 acre campsite to Jake L. Hamon, owner of the ranch on which it is located.  Mr. Hamon gave the council his check for $12,500 in settlement of a controversy arising ot of the clearing away of tree growth which the council decided made the old campsite no longer suitable for use as a wilderness summer camp.  under terms of the settlement, the conical surrendered its lease rights but with the privilege of salvaging materials from old Camp Billy Gibbons for use in building a new camp.

The executive board of the council has given the green light for erection of a new camp on the donated campsite, and the construction will proceed as rapidly as possible.

Ready During Summer

Mr. Quirl said the new camp will be ready by the time the summer camping season opens.

The council's encampment period will start Tuesday, June 24, and continue through July 22, with four one-week periods.

Looking over site of new damScouts are promised plenty of thrills and excitement at the new camp.  Troops can lose themselves in the thick woods if they want to.

Mr. quirl himself got lost in the area last week.  The woods are so dense that if ever a fence is built around the area it will be a major undertaking.  There's a fence along the west side, or base of the triangle, dividing two pastures of the huge ranch.

"Uncle John" Gibbons, donor of the new Camp Billy Gibbons, has let it be known that the gift is a sort of tribute not only to his late father but to his own young grandsons, one of whom lives on the ranch and the other in Louisiana.  He has two daughters but no sons.

Officials of Comanche Trail Council, who met in Brownwood recently and were told about Mr. Gibbons' offer to give the campsite, have been loud in their praise of the generosity he and Mrs. Gibbons are showing.

They pointed out this is no lease but a deed, giving title to the land involved.

It will remain the property of the council so lang as the site continues to be used for a Boy Scout camp. Abandonment of the camp would result in the land reverting to Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons or their heirs.

Officials of the council do not expect ever to abandon the camp.  They visioned a procession of boys down through the generations -- growing in number as the population of the eight-county Council area increases -- blessing the memory of "Uncle Billy" Gibbons and Mr. and Mrs. John W. Gibbons for providing a fine wilderness campsite.

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First Photo - John W. Gibbons with his Collie dog Prince in his yard at his home.
Second Photo - Plum Hollow taken from bluff showing heavy tree growth.
Third Photo - John W. "Uncle John" Gibbons on day they looked at possible new camp.
Fourth Photo - Looking at site for possible dam for swimming area.  Left to right: John Gibbons, Gaitha Browning, Guy N. Quirl, Scout Executive and C. L Pouncey, Council Treasurer.

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