In the late 1960’s an avid wild game hunter, T. Keith Schier, purchased a 35.4 acre island in Matagorda County from Col. Wyatt Selkirk. The island was formed during the straightening of the Colorado River to help barges move freely up and down the river accessing the Intracoastal Waterway. He had grand ideas of making the island his very own, but due to economics, he soon decided to share his treasure and develop a private island subdivision.Yes, back in the day Exotic Isle was a true island. Over the years the north end of the island has silted in from river rises and is now attached to the mainland across from the Selkirk mainland.
He stuck to his ideas of maintaining the island’s charm by not building a bridge to connect to the mainland. He commissioned the only privately owned cable car system in the United States. The cable car system travels about 900 feet across the river with about a 500 foot span from tower to tower over the river. A cable car travels approximately 75 feet up in the air across on the system across the river. It soon became clear to Mr Schier that something was needed to ferry items back and forth across the river, so he purchased a “self-powered freight ferry” to transport goods up to 32,000 lbs. The cable car system is still in place today and is used by residents and guests making island access very private, as well as the ferry. The panoramic views of the area while traveling the cable car are spectacular! Keith thought of everything to make this island special.
In the beginning Mr. Schier planned the island to be plotted for 67 home sites and marina of five acres on the mainland side. His original ideas included 12 acres for home sites and 23.4 acres (66%) was set aside as common area reserves. His love for hunting gave him an idea of creating a resort like island, where birds and animals are allowed to roam freely on its natural landscape with no game fences. He acquired exotic animals and birds from around the world called “Texotics”, and placed them on the island for the pleasure of the residents (hence the name Exotic Isle). As the story has it, all the exotics either flew away or swam across the river leaving no remnants of exotics. To keep Mr. Shier’s dream somewhat alive, the residents of Exotic Isle have tried to keep the island a place of natural beauty, seclusion and privacy.
Now for the tales of treasure on the island! The Colorado River has history of being a haven for pirate ships in the early 1800’s. It’s said, that William Selkirk of Selkirk, N.Y., befriended a sailor of Albany, N.Y., and before his death the sailor gave William Selkirk a map with the location of a treasures pirates buried on Selkirk Island. The story has been told that Selkirk came to Texas with the intention of purchasing the land and search for the hidden treasure. This story and others have been passed down for generations by the Selkirk family as well as mentioned in several family diaries. Articles have been published telling thees stories, but no such treasure has ever been discovered.
Now, Col. Wyatt Selkirk, the man Mr. Schier purchased the land from, says the tale of buried treasure is not true. Col. Wyatt recalled that his great-grandfather was one of the 130 member colonists brought to Matagorda to settle. In 1882 his great-grandfather worked as a surveyor for Stephen F. Austin. In exchange for pay he was given a league of land (4438 acres) and a labor (a 160 acre Mexican land grant). At the time of the Exotic Isle sale, Col. Wyatt still owned over 500 acres of Matagorda County land that was acquired by his great-grandfather in 1824. There are claims the family still has the original grant papers that were translated from spanish to english. Col. Wyatt Selkirk died in 1971. The Pabst family, 5th generation of the Selkirk family, negotiated the sale of 35.4 acres between Col. Wyatt and Mr. Schier and still handle the estate presently.
Things have changed a bit over the years, the 67 home sites are a thing of the past. Today the island has been divided up into 25 home sites. Currently there are 15 homes on the island and close to the 23 acres Mr. Schier envisioned as common areas. The beauty and the seclusion of the island still exists to today and is a fabulous place for children to run freely playing safely.
K. Schier’s flyers in the late 1960’s promoting Exotic Isle –
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