Medina is Texas Apple Country
Medina is twelve miles northwest of Bandera in central Bandera County. As early as 1865 a sawmill had been built in the area, and several families were settled nearby. The Medina post office was established in 1880, and by the end of the next decade the community had a gin, a corn mill, a hotel, a private bank, two churches, three general stores, and a population of 150.
Many area residents raised stock as their primary occupation. By 1914 Medina had a population of 400; it fell to 250 in the early 1930s, when the Great Depression caused many residents to move away in search of jobs. The community recovered fairly rapidly, however, and had a variety of businesses, four churches, and 475 residents by the late 1940s. Most of the area land was devoted to livestock and to recreational hunting leases until the 1980s, when apple farming was introduced to the area.
Baxter Adams, Jr., started an experimental orchard of dwarf apple trees in 1980, and the first apples were ready for sale in 1984. The dwarf trees produced regular-sized apples that were 40 percent sweeter than large-tree varieties and proved to be an extremely efficient use of the land, with 1,000 to 2,500 trees an acre. In 1989 the Texas Department of Agriculture declared Medina the Apple Capital of Texas.
The 300,000 trees in the Medina area produced 100 tons of fruit in 1990, and more orchards were being planted each year. The annual Medina Apple Festival, held on the last Saturday of July, attracted 20,000 visitors in 1990. The population of Medina was listed as 515 in 1990, but the actual number of residents in Medina proper was closer to 250. By 2000 the population had more than doubled to 515 residents.
Today Medina is recognized as the capital of the Texas apple industry, a business that took root in 1981 when Baxter Adams and wife Carol moved to Love Creek Ranch outside of Medina. Baxter spent 30 years as an exploration geologist for the oil industry before moving to this region. It's a land of rocky, rugged hills, with fertile valleys irrigated by the cool waters of Love Creek, a spring-fed creek that originates on the ranch.
This Texas version of Johnny Appleseed specializes in dwarf apple trees, plants which reach a height of only five or six feet. The lilliputians boast full-size apples, however, up to 50 pounds per tree, in varieties from the common Red Delicious to the unusual Gala and Crispin.
Baxter and Carol started with just 1000 trees in 1981, and they were soon in the apple business. Unlike the full-sized trees that take seven years to produce a crop, the dwarfs yield fruit in just a year and a half. Another advantage Adams has over the northern producers is his growing season. Texas apples ripen weeks before their Northern cousins.
Growers who come to the area soon find that it's a town operation, with nearly all of Medina, taking part. This is a one-street town, but there's no mistaking its apple connection. The processing plant stays busy from July through October, and the Apple Store is filled year around. The store, which is owned and operated by Bryan Hutzler, is a compendium of everything apple-related, selling apple jelly, apply jam, apple syrup, and apple shampoo, not to mention a terrific apple ice cream.
Medina Lake was constructed between 1911-1912 as an irrigation reservoir. An extensive canal system delivers water to 34,000 acres of blackland prairie farmlands below the Balcones escarpment around Castroville.
At the time it was constructed it was the largest irrigation project west of the Mississippi. At spillway capacity, Media Lake covers about 5,575 acres, has a length of 18 miles, a maximum width of three miles and 110 miles of shoreline.
World famous engineer Dr. Fred Stark Pearson persuaded British investors to finance construction of the Medina dam and canal system.
Information provided by the following websites:
Texas State Historical Association, The Oasis Event Center, Texastripper.com
Visit Medina & Medina Lake and discover one of the Hill Country's finest communities.