Framing: Luckenbach, Texas

The Luckenbach Post Office and Trading Post – the zip code was retired in 1971

My dad was a huge Country & Western fan, and probably since it’s release in the late 70’s I remember the iconic lyrics, “Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas with Willie, Waylon and the boys…” Whodathunk I would ever make it there? And where, exactly, is “there”?

The trip intent never was to go “there”, but moreso a trip to go exploring for Texas Bluebonnets. Thankfully, having friends who live in the area and also have cabins for rent ( the 40-year (really, 40?) connection between song and town became reality.

Jacob Luckenbach came with his family, from Germany, and settled into the Fredericksburg area – an area heavily settled by Germans in the 1800’s. He would sell that property and move to the area that is now known as Luckenbach, however at the time it was named Grape Creek. A bored Pastor’s wife, Katherina Engel, is actually credited with starting the Post Office and Trading Post seen in the above picture. Her daughter, Minna Engel was engaged to Jacob Luckenbach’s son, Carl Luckenbach and chose “Luckenbach” as the name on the postal application.

Luckenbach has reportedly never had more than 490 residents in it’s prime and is only a little over 9 acres in size. By the 1960’s it was reportedly nothing more than a ghost town. The Post Office would close and in 1971 the zip code was retired.

“Town for sale – population 3”

Luckenbach would remain in the Engel family until it was placed for sale in the paper in 1970: “Town for sale – population 3”. Luckenbach was purchased for $30,000 by Hondo Crouch, Guich Koock and Kathy Morgan (Crouch’s wife). They would come up with ways to use the vacant buildings (Post Office/General Store, Bar and Dance Hall), bringing in music, through Festivals, Concerts and Cook-Offs. Guitar-pickin and Poetry under the 500-plus year old Oak trees became a ritual that is still maintained today. The town propelled into World-wide fame with the release of “Luckenbach, Texas” by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings in 1977.

Pickin-and-a-grinnin, Luckenbach-style
Walt Perryman, Luckenbach’s Poet Laureate and local “star”. A Texan, born near the Pecos River, arrived in Luckenbach 15-years ago. When asked if he has lived in Luckenbach his whole life, he responds, “not yet”.
The Luckenbach Dance Hall
The first Luckenbach school

Luckenbach is worth the visit, whether it is for the music, Cowboy church, motorcycle riding in the area or simply a much simpler and slower life pace. As the lyrics state, “out in Luckenbach, Texas; ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain”.

Additional photos: All photos owned by Terri Witt and can only be re-used with expressed permission or purchase.




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