Under Canyon Lake: How Crane’s Mill and the original Hancock got erased from the map

Both towns are now under Canyon Lake

CANYON LAKE, Texas – Deep below the choppy waves of a popular lake lies a piece of forgotten Hill Country history.

"They're under the lake, Canyon Lake," said Brenda Anderson-Lindemann, author of "Bridging Spring Branch and Western Comal County, Texas."

"They did deserve a dot on the map," explained John Coers of the Comal County Historical Commission.

Founded by Germans, the small but tight-knit communities of the original Hancock and Crane’s Mill are no more. There is evidence that they were there.

Crane’s Mill Park is a popular spot, there’s a new Hancock along Highway 306, and Crane’s Mill Road dead ends into the lake. The history of the communities began in the 1850s, when this was the fertile Guadalupe River valley.

"James B. Crain and John Lackey came to this area and both of them brought the skills of running a mill, shingles mill, gristmill," said Anderson-Lindemann.

While the spelling of the name changed, it explains how Crane’s Mill got its name.

"Hancock, the name, was named after a gentleman named John Hancock," said Coers.

He would put his signature on the area and the community grew.

"They eventually put in a bowling alley, they had a merchandise store, they had dances," added Coers.

But, as time went on, the communities faded. And by the 1950s, many buildings were demolished because they would soon be underwater.

Construction on Canyon Lake Dam started in 1958 and it was finished in 1964. The main purpose of Canyon Lake is flood control and water conservation.

"My great-grandfather and my great-grandmother lived where the lake is now," said Coers.

Coers remembered the day his parents received a letter from the United States Corps of Engineers.

"They were asking for permission to remove the remains of Heinrich and Caroline Coers," he said, speaking of his great-grandparents.

In fact, some 70 to 80 graves had to be moved to make way for the lake.

Could there still be something down there?

"I think the home and the store and whatever outbuildings, the compound of the Engel’s home is all there," said Anderson-Lindemann.

The Engels were one of the last families to live in Crane’s Mill, however, Anderson-Lindemann points out that much of what would be left would be in pieces.  Divers have not found much over the years.

“It’s true, there was nothing like New Braunfels, or Blanco, or Boerne below there.” said Coers.

About the Author:

Justin Horne is a meteorologist and reporter for KSAT 12 News. When severe weather rolls through, Justin will hop in the KSAT 12 Storm Chaser to safely bring you the latest weather conditions from across South Texas. On top of delivering an accurate forecast, Justin often reports on one of his favorite topics: Texas history.