“The 15-acre Verde Park [on the farm] is the backyard most of us dream of,” says Craig Swanson, who owns Barton Hill Farms. “Families can play on the 25+ family activities, spread a picnic blanket, listen to some good Texas music, sip on a local brew or lemonade and enjoy a nice, relaxing day while watching the lazy Colorado River flow by.”
Swanson seems especially proud of the Texas history that provides the backdrop to their location. Barton Hill Farms is near the banks of the Colorado River, and the staff at the farm has been busy recreating The Lively, Stephen F. Austin’s ‘pirate ship’ that was rumored to have been lost at sea in the early 1820s while en route to deliver provisions to the Bastrop Colony.
It took hours of watching shipbuilding videos and researching blueprints of early merchant ships to create the design.“We wanted The Lively to look as much like a real ship as possible, so we had to make sure the curve of the hull and bowsprit were identical to real sailing vessels,” Swanson says. “Four months after construction began, we hoisted the sail and christened the hull with Champagne! It’s the first thing people see when they enter the courtyard.”
Over the years the farm has grown from a small fall pumpkin patch and hay operation into a year round event venue and farm offering a Spring Flower Festival, a Fall Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze, a Dorper sheep herd and commercial hay farm.
On the Texas Frontier
The farm also has a frontier history, as it was originally part of land settled by Josiah Wilbarger, the well-known Texas frontiersman. To commemorate this part of its history, there is a replica of the old Wilbarger Fort, where kids can let their imaginations of frontier adventures run wild. In addition to all the fun, there is an educational aspect to Barton Hills Farms as well.
“We also have five historic signs around the courtyard that include stories about the structures and other history [of the farm],” Swanson says. “Each sign has a QR code and webpage where visitors can find more of the story.”
Sounds like just the perfect way to spend a crisp fall weekend!