Shin Oak Ridge.
These three words roll off the tongue of the proud folks in Liberty Hill so fast that some newcomers think it’s a street, a new casserole or the name of a runner’s injury.
Actually, it describes our small mountainous region where certain oak trees were, and still are, plentiful. The Shin Oak Ridge is where the various Native American tribes shared space until the feared Comanches moved to consolidate their turf here on the southern end of the High Plains.
For those who like to get out and drive, bike and explore, our part of the Shin Oak Ridge is the border area of Western Williamson and Eastern Burnet counties. It is roughly bounded by the cities and communities of Leander, to the south; Briggs, to the north; Florence to the Northeast and Bertram to the West.
The Shin Oak Ridge, and Liberty Hill particularly, became a crossroads for stage travel prior to the advent of the railroads. A famous stage stop here played host to many famous and historically significant people. All kinds of famous political, military, and entertainment people made the stop in Liberty Hill.
Later, the 1884 chartering of Liberty Normal and Business College brought in students from across the country to continue their higher education.
So, outlaws, presidents, generals, college kids, and you, all have something in common. You’ve conjured up a good excuse to explore the Shin Oak Ridge.
Lots of folks believe the Shin Oaks or sometimes called Shinnery Oaks were nicknamed because of their shorter stature in the Oak family, like “shin high to a grasshopper”. However, the whole thing is a mispronunciation, thus a misunderstanding.
The Shinnery is a mispronunciation of chêne, which is French for oak, which came from the earlier explorers who were writing about the place. While it’s true the Shin Oak Ridge and the Shin Oak People were named for the Shin Oaks that populated the area; the Quercus havardii, or shinnery oak is a short, thicket-forming tree. Some of the plants are hundreds to thousands of years old, although aboveground trees typically live 20 years or less.
Welcome to the Shin Oak Ridge. It’s looked just about the same ever since the Ice Age.