Glen Rose, Texas

By Kevin Tankersley

While many visitors to Rhythm & Co. Books are there to shop the store’s inventory of new and used volumes, just as many are there to visit Shanti, the resident dog.

Shanti is the latest pup that store owner Janet Mills has trained for Southeastern Guide Dogs, a nonprofit in Palmetto, Florida, that breeds and trains guide and service dogs. Once trained, the dogs are provided to “people with vision loss, veterans with disabilities and children with significant challenges,” according to the organization’s website.

Mills said her store is named after Rhythm, a yellow lab she trained as a guide dog. She didn’t work out in that role, so she came back to Mills, who then had her certified as a therapy dog.
“She went to hospitals and rehab centers and made a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” Mills said.

Shanti, a 1-year-old lab-golden retriever mix, will be at the store every day that Mills works until about August.

Rhythm & Co. is at 101 Elm Street, on the Somervell County Courthouse square in downtown Glen Rose, where we recently spent a couple of days. But at just over an hour’s drive, the picturesque town can make a fine day trip.

At Mills’ store, we bought the book “A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Glen Rose, Texas”, written by T. Lindsay Baker and researched by his graduate students at Tarleton State University where he was the W.K. Gordon Chair of Texas Industrial History. Previously, Baker was assistant professor of museum studies at Baylor. The book details 55 locations in Glen Rose, including private homes, businesses, city buildings and what remains of a few former structures.

We went to several, and one of our favorites was what is left of the Sycamore Grove Filling Station, on County Road 312 in the northeastern outskirts of town, though our maps app called it the Outlaw Filling Station. The beautiful exterior walls of the former gas station — which are all that is still standing — are constructed of petrified wood, red and white bricks and multicolored stone. It’s distinctive enough that it’s the cover photo of Baker’s book. (That picture and wonderful photos of all the sites in the book are by Paul V. Chaplo.)

We also visited the former Crabtree Chevrolet and Service Station, a couple of blocks from the square on Northeast Barnard Street, which is now the home of Storiebook Cafe, a restaurant and bookstore. Scott Earl Crabtree sold cars from the limestone building in the late 1930s, and added a three-bay service garage in 1946. He retired in the 1960s, and the building was used for various purposes until it became Storiebook, a soup-and-sandwich diner that’s open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day but Sunday.

We explored the grounds of Barnard’s Mill, the oldest building in Glen Rose. The three-story gristmill was built in 1861 by Charles Barnard. The building was eventually expanded to include a cotton gin. It’s now home to an art museum.

Back on the downtown square, just a couple of storefronts down from Rhythm & Co., is Bone-anza Barn Books & Antiques, which features shelves crammed full of all manner of stuff, and a large collection of used books spaced throughout. There, I found a paperback copy of “I Was Born in Slavery,” a collection of 28 essays written by people who were formerly enslaved in Texas.
Also on the square, we visited the boutique Feast, which features clothes, accessories and home decor items. There, we bought a square wooden picture frame for $49, but that also includes one of our photos printed on canvas. We plan on using that frame for one of Sophie’s high school graduation pictures.

Since we didn’t have kids with us on this trip, we didn’t explore Dinosaur Valley State Park, which is one of the main attractions of Glen Rose. There, visitors can view dinosaur tracks that date back some 113 million years, in the bed of the Paluxy River. Dinosaur statues adorn the entrance to the park, which is open for camping, hiking, guided tours and much more. Day passes to the park are $8 for those age 13 and up, and free for younger visitors.

And because we didn’t have kids with us, we turned our day trip to Glen Rose into a two-night getaway, with accommodations at the Birdhouse, a treehouse-like cabin on 50 acres just outside town. Entrance into the second-floor bedroom of the cabin was via a stairway and bridge. On the opposite side of the bedroom was a small balcony outfitted with a table and two chairs and a view of the heavily-treed property that made for a lovely setting for an evening cocktail. A small kitchenette and the bathroom are on the bottom floor of the Birdhouse, and are accessed by a steep stairway that is lined with cedar handrails crafted from wood cut on the property.

We brought some snacks with us, so we only ate in Glen Rose a couple of times. For a late lunch one day, we dined at The Green Pickle Grill, which advertises that its “Real Dill” Burgers have been “Voted BEST Burgers in Somervell County.” We briefly considered ordering the Kitchen Sink Burger, with guacamole, fried egg, bacon, jalapenos, fried onion crumbles and cheese (for $24.99) but instead went with more traditional cheeseburgers, which was accompanied by house made french fries.

And on our way out of town after our last night at the Birdhouse, we stopped for pastries at Crave Bakery, a small shop just off of the square, which offers muffins, breakfast sandwiches, breads, cookies and coffee.