The Texas Traveler: Stonehenge II

In a rural field on a little-traveled loop just west of Kerrville stands a sight right out of the set of Spinal Tap -- a miniature replica of the Stonehenge monolith.

Stonehenge II stands just north of Hunt, in the middle of the Texas Hill Country. It's an oddity you might miss if you weren't looking for it, or if you're used to seeing top-hatted moai standing sentinel over farmland.  The statues were built by Al Shepperd and his neighbor, Doug Hill, a tile contractor and builder. Hill had finished building a patio in his own home when he was left with a single, large slab of limestone he offered to Shepperd. Shepperd, oddly, decided to stand the slab straight up in the middle of a field on his property.

A few months later, Shepperd asked Hill to help him build a 13-foot arch to make the limestone more visible from the road. He apparently wanted to create the attraction for publicity. Once the arch was added, Shepperd, who had visited the original Stonehenge near Salisbury, England, couldn't help but see a resemblance.

It took Hill almost five months (with the assistance of three other workers) to finish the hollow, plaster-covered replica, under Shepperd's direction. Stonehenge II is 92 feet in diameter, about two-thirds the size of the original.

A few years after the circular monument was finished, Shepperd had another brainstorm. He commissioned Hill again to help him build two replica moai, the tiki-like structures that guard the Polynesian/Chilean island of Rapa Nui (also known as Easter Island). After a visit to Easter Island, Shepperd concluded that Stonehenge and the Moai had similar origins, despite being several thousand miles apart.

Shepperd died in 1994. His ashes were scattered on the site of his creation and the property is still owned by his family. Doug Hill still lives in the house across the street.

Stonehenge II is free but there is donation box at the information kiosk for upkeep and repairs. Unlike the original Stonehenge, which has lasted more than 3,000 years, the plaster of Stonehenge II has not weathered so well.

How to get there: Take I-10 through San Antonio to Kerrville (260 miles, about 4 hours). Once in Kerrville, look for Hwy 27 West. Follow that to the fork for Hwy 39, about 6 miles, which will take you to Hunt. Take Hwy 39 another 6 miles until you see the right-side junction for FM 1340. After a few miles, Stonehenge II will be on your left. Look for the moai.

If you are interested in the scenic route instead, try this: Instead of turning on FM 1340, stay on Hwy 39 through Hunt as it winds south towards the Guadalupe River. You'll follow the hilly, winding road along the river, crossing small trickles in some places, until you reach a T with US Hwy 83. Turn right, heading north about 8 miles, and then turn right again at the junction for Hwy 41. After another 8 miles you'll turn right again at FM 1340, which will loop south back towards the river, taking you right by Stonehenge II. From there it's just a few miles further into Hunt. The total loop is about 66 miles and takes about an hour and a half.

Where to stay: Though it's possible to do this trip in a day, you'll have to get up early and not waste any time along the way. But what's the fun in that?
There are hundreds of bed and breakfasts near Hunt with river-front property that range anywhere from $80 and up. You could go high-brow and stay in one of the exotic ranches at upwards of $200 per night or opt to stay in one of the several reasonably-priced chain hotels in Kerrville.

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