The Corrigan Pool as it appeared in 1981 (notice driftwood lodged in tree from a recent flood).
Skidmore's Local Legends
Excerpts from "The Legend of the Famous Corrigan Pool"
by Charles L. Blaschke of Washington D.C.
...Corrigan Pool is an unusually large body of water for a stream that is often dry and only during rainy seasons flows steadily. With its high rock cliffs on one side, its steep sand bank on the other, and it's huge moss-laden oak and hackberry trees surrounding it, an air of mystery is cast over the area. The Pool was not always as just described. In The History of Bee County, a picture of the Pool taken in 1914 shows that it's shape, size, and surroundings have changed. It's appearance through the years has changed; however, beneath it's surface it has remained the same -- a mystery.
During the Civil War era, Corrigan Pool was one of the few resting places for weary travelers. Mr. Pleas Boales, Skidmore, Texas, told me:
It was a good place for travelers to rest. The old trail from Brownsville to Shreveport, Louisiana, went right by the north end of the pool. Both robbers and good people used it. I once remember my mother's telling me about an old man who was traveling from Brownsville to Victoria around 1862, missed the ford, and slipped into the main pool by mistake -- never saw hide nor hair of him -- at least, that is what my mother told. Some people think that there is a hidden underground stream at the bottom. I don't believe that, however.
Mrs. Anna Belle Thiele, Skidmore, Texas, related a similar story to me.
Up until 1925 no one had ever been able to reach the bottom of this pool It is known to have had a large underground cave deep in under the water years ago. At one time a herd of cattle were crossing the river near this pool and the chuckwagon and team washed into it and were never seen again. Since it was not too deep on either side of the pool, it was believed that it washed into the underground cave. This was strongly believed a few years later when a boy was drowned while swimming in the Corrigan Pool, and weeks later his body was found in Dixon Pool twelve miles down the river. At this time the bed of the river was dry in lots of places and it was believed that the underground cave was connecting these two deep holes, that never have been dry to this day. These pools change their positions ever so often; the sand is always shifting. The old cave could be closed up with brush and sand; yet, sometimes these caves open up just enough to cause the whirlpools and suctions that we all have experienced when swimming there.
As a result of this underground stream, (if there is one; some people doubt it's existence. No real evidence has ever been established to verify this fact.) many stories have arisen. When I confronted Mr. Boales with the question about the suction, he said:
No I would not say there was a suction there. There might have been, but there is not any real proof. Once I was working cattle on the Corrigan Ranch with old man Curvello, Lon Dee, and some others; we were taking some steers to the rail station. One of the yearlings, as we neared the pool, decided that he'd not only get a drink but also take a swim. As he went to the middle of the pool, he started struggling; his horns were seen and then he went under. Some of them said the suction pulled him under. I believe it was just a big alligator. This happened in 1904.
...Many stories have contributed to Corrigan Pool's fame. Among these are the tales of buried treasure that are hidden near the pool. Said Mrs. Thiele about buried treasure:
Ever so often a Mexican map of the Aransas River shows up in Skidmore with a buried treasure spot marked. The last one was five years ago. They dug up the banks for miles. This map was supposed to have been from a Mexican who died in prison and passed the map to his people. The location was on the north banks of the Aransas River between two large oak trees near a cemetery. another map showed up about twelve years ago. The north banks of the Aransas River across from the Skidmore cemetery was supposed to have been the spot. No one made a find. I believed the hunters should have looked in another place; I'm almost positive that the cemetery on the map was the old Corrigan cemetery instead of the Skidmore cemetery.
Mr. Boales had his ideas about the buried treasure near the Corrigan Pool:
I'm sure that some gold was buried down there. Stands to reason. Outlaws were afraid of each other so they hid their money, got killed, and now their loot is buried. Corrigan Pool was such an obvious place so I imagine that some gold is buried there. It was dog eat dog in those days; there weren't any banks then; people did things for themselves then.
...Probably the most interesting legend about the Corrigan Pool has been that of the "jack-o-lantern." A story has been told about a family who settled near the Dixon Hole, which was a few miles up from the Corrigan Pool. These settlers, afraid that the Indians were going to attack them, went to hide in a cave on the banks of the Corrigan. The Indians found the settlers and massacred them at the entrance of the cave. Mrs. Thiele related:
This old cave was known for generations and as late as 1925, my father took some men from Corpus Christi Museum. They found a baby's skull, a man's legbone, and a leather belt and old musket both in good condition. I can remember playing in the old cave. It has filled in with the years. The most mysterious thing about the cave was the weird light that would slowly rise and move up and down the river banks near the entrance of this cave. On rainy nights this would happen ever so often. Papa called it the "jack-o-lantern." I still wonder what caused it.
NOTE: In 1997, I asked Anna Belle about the existence of a cave at Corrigan Pool. She explained that the cave was actually further up the river near the location of the old Hart/Priour Cemetery. -- Keith Petrus