Lago Vista's Rich History of Pioneers
Amazingly, the first known inhabitants of the North Shore can be traced back 10,000-15,000 years with the 1983 discovery of the pre-historic, "Leanderthal Lady", a five foot tall, 18-25 year old woman named after the North Shore village of Leander, near which she was discovered.
Populated through at least a dozen millennium by many Native Indian tribes, most notably Apache & Comanche (and many sovereign nations as well, ie: Spain, France, Mexico), control of the greater Central Texas area was fought over for centuries with the modern area beginning in the 1500s. In 1831 “The Father of Texas”, Stephen F. Austin, settled 800 families in the area known at the time as the city of Austin’s “Upper Colonies”, and it was from there that the current story of Lago Vista and the North Shore community began.
Early families with instantly recognizable names including Lohman, Smithwick, Sylvester, and others, established commerce in the area with the famous “Lohman’s Bridge” (aka: Crossing or Ford) constructed in 1931 to facilitate easy travel between the North and South shore of the Colorado River. The bridge, and many homesteads and farms were submerged under what came to be called “Lake Travis” upon the 1941 construction of the Marshall Ford Dam, quickly renamed the Mansfield Dam after a prominent local congressman.
Prior to construction of the dam, local residents were at the mercy of the “Feast or Famine” nature of the river with irregular floods and droughts wreaking havoc on the local infrastructure. Establishment of the LCRA* in 1934 initiated the process of multiple dams being constructed along the Colorado River to serve as both water storage and flood control measures while providing a steady reliable source of drinking water for residents of the North Shore as well as the growing population of greater Austin. (* Lower Colorado River Authority)
Not surprisingly, the creation of Lake Travis increased the autonomy of the North Shore with bridges to the South submerged and new roads required to reach the increasingly isolated areas of Lago Vista and other North Shore communities.
Construction workers who built the numerous infrastructure projects in the 40s and 50s fell in love with the area and chose to resettle here. With reliable access restored, World War Two vets and other military retirees began moving to Lago Vista in the 50s & 60s to enjoy the quiet refuge. Developers took a strong interest in the Hill Country’s beauty and the recreational opportunities Lake Travis would provide. Jonestown began to grow about this time as well, and FM 1431 was upgraded to facilitate modern traffic. Over time, bus service to Austin was initiated.
1980s Attempts by the City of Austin to annex the North Shore communities were abruptly halted when Lago Vista, Jonestown & Point Venture all voted to individually incorporate. Now, in 2017, the North Shore is a thriving, growing triad of communities with everything from a large, regional supermarket and a national pharmacy chain, to dozens of small owner operated businesses from auto repair to zoological retail!
The North Shore also boasts a prolific arts community with the iconic, 80 voice Hill Country Singers, the large-scale Broadway productions of Lake Travis Music Theatre, the boutique Lago Vista Players, and the classic Twilight Concerts high on the hill overlooking the lake. Our schools rank in the Top Five for ALL of Texas, the cost of living is among the lowest in the country, property values continue to climb and, though ours is a quiet little community, the major urban center of Austin is just 35 minutes away!