CASTELL, Texas (KXAN) - The tiny town of Castell near Llano -- once in its prime before the Great Depression -- is making a comeback as fifth-generation residents have been working to bring back life into this Hill Country community. Their efforts are paying off, despite Mother Nature's lack of rain.
If you ever drive by Castell on weekends, you can experience the good times under the oak tree downtown, as locals and tourists alike get together for some good old-fashioned Texas chatter beside the main road. It's a tradition making a come back as descendants of landowners are bringing life back to Castell.
"My great, great grandfather came here in 1850," said Randy Castell, owner of the town's general store. "A bunch of German settlers created three socialistic utopian type communities; Castell is the only one that survived."
Leifeste's passion has caught on as people from all around drive in for BBQ and Steak weekend and to cool off on the Llano River just down the hill.
"You come here, you lay in the Llano River, the people are wonderful," said Karen Bartlett, who is a flight attendant from San Angelo. "We absolutely love it here."
A few cabins across from the General Store are along the river banks. Some say it reminds them of a famous Texas town an hour away.
"[I've] been to Luckenbach back before there was anything there," said Jill Smith of Dallas. "Back when there was just the Luckenbach store, so this is very similar."
Castell has about six to 10 residents living in it year-round. It just depends on who you ask, but one thing hasn't changed in all these years -- having water flowing through the Llano River here is just as important now as it's ever been.
"It's been dry one time, 1956. It's not going dry this year," said Liefeste, adding that the water level isn't as high as it was last year, but admits everyone along the Llano River would be better off if some black clouds cracked open.
"We need a big rain between here and Junction," said Liefeste, "like eight or 10 inches -- we need a tropical storm."
In the meantime, long-timers like Cheryll Mabray, Llano County attorney, says Castell is an important part of their history and she hopes it stays that way.
"You always feel like you're at home and you can fit in," she said.
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