History of The Area
Whispers of a rich and adventurous history echo at every turn on the Scenic Loop Road, today an enchanting and unique background for the Grey Moss Inn.
Originally an Indian trail carved around the hills, valleys, and caves of the area, the Scenic Loop was often the setting for fierce battles involving nomadic Indian tribes battling over land rights during the untamed Texas of long ago. The "Treaty Tree", a majestic oak, located in the meadow adjacent to the Inn, and said to possess a "peaceful energy", was used by these Indians to come together on a neutral "spiritually healing" ground. It was here that treaties and alliances were negotiated and signed.
In 1821, Polish mercenary Juan Menchaca obtained a land grant and with his Aztec wife began to settle the area. In the years that followed, stagecoaches from San Antonio to San Diego rattled down the loop, planning to stop only for a change of horses, but often subjected to "unscheduled" stops at the hands of renegade Indians and Menchaca’s leftover mercenaries. These bandits often lived and hid their gold in the numerous caves located within a very short horseback ride of the loop. Rumors still persist as to the whereabouts of hidden treasures in many of these caves. In pursuit of these bandits was sharpshooting Texas Ranger, Captain Jack Hayes. This handsome Irishman, a favorite with he ladies, provided law and order to the area until he ventured to the Bay Area of California where he helped settle the city of Oakland.
By 1872, the railroad had steamed into neighboring Leon Springs. And the Scenic Loop providing a path for the wagons and stagecoaches to Helotes. Robert E. Lee was a frequent visitor to the area, and a ranch on the Loop still bears the Lee family name. In 1916, famed revolutionary bandit, Pancho Villa, quietly slipped into the area to return a previously "captured" Jesse Madla and his 1914 Buick to the Madla family ranch – west of the Inn.
The 1920’s brought a new distinction to the Scenic Loop – the area became a popular playground and summer retreat for wealthy San Antonians. Their cabins and cottages still dot the hills. Artists and celebrates flocked to the Loop then, as now, for the scenic landscape and the pleasant climate. Actors and other "show people" came when the Orpheum Circuit – a vaudevillian troupe that played at the Majestic Theatre – "broke down" – could not be paid. In need of a place to stay, many San Antonians offered their Scenic Loop cottages.
Today the city of Grey Forest is a wildlife sanctuary and on the acreage adjacent to the Inn, native white tail deer graze in the late afternoon and evening. Armadillos, raccoons and rabbits scamper the grounds at night.
It was in this idyllic setting that the Grey Moss Inn gained fame for its combination of Southern hospitality and fine food, thanks to Mary Howell, who founded the Inn in 1929. A genius of a cook, Mary made her famous cumin-herbed squash casserole - still an Inn favorite - from squash grown in her own garden. She sold homemade candy from her front porch, and often cooked for her well-known "neighbors", including John Floore, artist Robert Wood, and movie star Sonny Tufts.
The year 1943 and World War II brought a housing and beef shortage to San Antonio. As Mary Howell cooked cabrito on the old mesquite grill, numerous people moved to the Scenic Loop, many of them dependents of the rumored 500,000 "hidden" men at nearby Camp Stanley and Bullis, that were there to protect against a possible invasion by Hilter's forces via Tampico, Mexico.
The Inn has never been closed and is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Central Texas, an enduring landmark for people celebrating engagements, anniversaries, and other special occasions amid an atmosphere of rural charm and romantic seclusion.
The tradition that Mary Howell started continues to this day. Food is prepared fresh daily using recipes and techniques that have not changed in 60 years. Only choice, heavy-aged beef is used and basted with our famed "witches brew" - an original Inn recipe. Water is drawn from fresh spring wells and our famous pies are made "from scratch" daily.
With a wish to continue the Texas tradition of an irresistible blend of rustic beauty and incomparable fare, owner Lou Baeten invites you to relax and enjoy the magic of the Grey Moss Inn.