Monday, December 17, 2007

A Good Man

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Elmer Kleb
1907-1999

I'm constantly searching for interesting places to go on the north side of Houston. My latest find is the Kleb Woods Nature Preserve just west of Tomball, Texas. This place is amazing. The land for this nature preserve originally belonged to Elmer Kleb, a hermit who lived on these 200 acres from birth to passing on. The house he was born in and lived for 92 years was built by his father. It had no power, no phone. I'm not even sure if it had running water.

Elmer lived his life as one with the land. He planted trees and gardens and grew his own food. He nursed many an injured animal back to health, in fact he shared his house for many years with a vulture he had healed. He asked nothing from anybody and just wanted to live free on the land that had been owned by his family since the 1840's. Of course, this meant the taxman came calling. Elmer had neglected to pay taxes on this land and by 1986 he owed the government $150,000. They were going to force him to sell a large peice of the land to cover these taxes and fines.

And suddenly the man who just wanted to be left alone ended up in the national spotlight. To make a long story short, in 1989, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), Commissioner Steve Radack, the Houston Audubon Society and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department joined together to save Elmer Kleb's land. They set it up as a future nature preserve. Mr. Kleb could continue to live there as he always had and then after he died the land would become a nature preserve open to the public. Elmer lived his simple life for five more years before finally passing away.

His house, guest house, and barn still stand. Visitors can tour his house from 8am-5pm Monday through Friday as well as check out the new. large nature center building on the property. The rest of the park is open from 7am until dusk seven days a week. His gardens still remain and are cared for by park volunteers. Two miles of woodland trails wind through the animal-filled forest. There's even a special camping area available only to Scouts by reservation.

It is a good place.

A very good place, indeed.

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Elmer Kleb's house and one of his gardens.

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Wethergirls and Clarkettes at Elmer's door.

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Future farmers looking at the past.
And Mambowether eating a pretzel.

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Elmer Kleb's tractor. It was really cool.

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Playing in his barn.

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Walking under the trees in Elmer's footsteps.

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Mama-bird Miniwether making a nest for baby-bird Mambowether.

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Speaking of birds...a list of all current species spotted there.

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The girls prefered the frogs which were EVERYWHERE! This one pooped on Miniwether when she picked it up. That was pretty funny.

Go there. If you like this blog you'll love wandering Kleb Woods.

Adventure! Excitement! Land!

3 comments:

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

Getting pooped on by a frog is one of those childhood rites-of-passage!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great park

michaelvk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.