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Come on Down to Gruene Hall

One of the many pleasures of a small town is that you can see the moon rise. On a warm June evening, a silver crescent climbs above the landmark water tower that signals the presence of Gruene to the outside world.

As that bright sliver arcs over the tall water tower, words sung by Emmylou Harris come to mind -- "a quarter moon in a ten-cent town." Actually, most towns could spot Gruene a dime and get back change: The biggest skyscraper in the municipal precinct stands a whopping two stories. The favored mode of summertime transportation involves an inner tube floating down the cool, green Guadalupe River. The entire town can be traversed by a well-thrown rock.

And yet this tiny hamlet on the edge of New Braunfels boasts something that any glittering metropolis might envy. Gruene (pronounced green) has a time machine. It's called Gruene Hall, a vintage dance hall still swinging year round.

Venerable Gruene Hall, at 1601 Hunter Rd. (78130) in New Braunfels, is near the banks of the Guadalupe River, in the historic district of Gruene, midway between Austin and San Antonio. Take the Canyon Lake Road exit from I-35, and head west. At the first traffic light, at Hunter Rd., take a left. The road dead-ends in front of the hall. Hours: Opens daily at 11 a.m. year round. Live music in the dance hall every night in summer and Thu-Sun the rest of the year. Call for schedules and prices; most music free; cover charge for some shows; free parking around town. Call 830/629-5077.

Lodging

Adjacent to Gruene Hall, historic Gruene Mansion Inn, 1275 Gruene Rd. (New Braunfels 78130), has 28 rooms (one wheelchair accessible). Rates: $85-$135. No pets; no smoking. An elegant gourmet breakfast is optional ($7.50 per person). Call 830/629-2641.

Other bed-and-breakfast establishments are available in and around Gruene. For more information about lodging, dining, and attractions in the area, write to the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, Box 311417, New Braunfels 78131; 830/625-2385 or 800/572-2626.

Other Activities

Vendors for rafting and tubing on the Guadalupe River, in season Mar-Oct, include Rockin `R\' River Rides, 830/629-9999, and Gruene River Raft Co., 830/625-2800. Find antiques and arts and crafts at Gruene Market Days the third Sat. and Sun. of each month; 830/629-6441. Other celebrations include the Gruene Music Festival, Oct. 9-11, 1998, 830/629-5077; Buck Pottery's Texas Clay Festival, Oct. 24-25, 1998, 830/629-7975; and the Tour de Gruene bicycle race, Nov . 7-8, 1998, 830/629-5077.

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