ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE
by John Troesser
One Overlooked Place South of La Grange
Photo courtesy TXDoT
trip this time is an easy day trip from Houston
or Austin and a good overnight trip
from San Antonio or Dallas.
We would recommend all points of departure to consider this an overnight trip
since there is so much to see and do, but if you are traveling with pets, in-laws
or children, do what you have to (within reason).
Washington County is a mandatory stop on the Grand Tour of Texas because
of its historical significance. The abundant spring wildflowers
are icing on the cake. Highways 290 and 71 offer a display of flowers
even the driver can view without distraction and the winding roads between Brenham
and La Grange provide hills and
curves (sometimes at the same time) that will postpone, but not eliminate the
dreaded "Are we there yet?" Churches appear out of nowhere and it seems
every cow has a barn of it's own. Southern Fayette County is the home of
the Painted Churches.
the Brazos or otherwise) are all under the umbrella of the Washington
County Chamber of Commerce. www.brenhamtexas.org. Their brochure is impressive
and anticipates your every need. They are even gracious enough to include some
places and events on their maps that are outside Washington County. Area maps
can be downloaded from their website.
A pastural scene on La Bahia Road
on towns for photos, history and attractions: |
the drive? Book Your Hotel Here & Save
- Don't confuse the highway businesses with the real town. Historical downtown
has Washington County Museum as well as lots of shops and places to rest/eat.
Abundant trees line large lawns and gardens throughout the residential neighborhoods.
- Tranquil town with restored depot and nationally recognized working cotton
HILL - Historical Museum. Town is fine example of what active preservationists
can accomplish. Scenic Masonic Cemetery contains graves of Wm. Travis' family.
Twenty-five structures with Historic medallions.
- Ruins of Old Baylor, Gravesite of Mrs. Sam Houston, Texas Baptist Historical
STATE HISTORICAL PARK and STAR OF THE REPUBLIC MUSEUM - Research Library,
Restored home of Anson Jones, last President of the Republic of Texas, nature
trails, gift shop, and picnic area all in a tranquil setting.
definitely on the Grand Tour of Revolutionary Sites in Texas. It has recently
undergone an extensive expansion, and the parking has been expanded as well.
Contact them at 409-878-2461.
Wesley Brethren Church - A painted church. On the National
Register of Historic Places. On FM 2502 and FM 332. 8 miles SW of Brenham
OF ST. CLARE - The nuns of St. Clare couldn't sing or fly, so they came
up with the idea of raising miniature horses to make ends meet. TE's Local Personalities
visits with the latest and most petite addition to the family. Primadonna has
one mother and lots of sisters.
ONE OVERLOOKED PLACE SOUTH OF
HILL STATE HISTORIC SITE - (Fayette County) Try to include this in your
itinerary. Scenic overlook offers great view of La
Grange and the Colorado River. Ruins of the Kreische Brewery and the restored
Kreische house. Two miles south of La
Grange on Hwy 77.
BAHIA SCENIC HIGHWAY
(FM 390)-- Connects Burton with Independence and on to Hwy 150 which takes
you to Washington-on-the-Brazos.
First highway in the State to be declared "scenic" by the
Legislature. This road which once ran from Goliad
(La Bahia) to Nacogdoches
is noted for its cattle and horse ranches along the way.
Hotels | Giddings
Hotels | La
Galloways on LaBahia Trail|
the south side of La Bahia Trail, close to Gay
Hill you may see some cattle with white belts around them. These are Belted
Galloways and can trace their lineage back to Scotland via Canada. If they aren't,
then they're Dutch Belted Cows, which are interesting in that they were saved
from extinction by P. T. Barnum. Perhaps he was thinking of his expanding herd
when he said, "There's a sucker born every minute". After Barnum struck
his circus tent for the last time, selected members of that tribe were chosen
to reintroduce the herd to Holland. But if they are Galloways, they can be bred
for Dairy or Meat. They grow a woolly coat for winter that they shed in the summer.
Mothers are noted for being very protective of their calves.
above information was from "A
Field Guide to Cows". Click here for a review
of this indispensable and humorous guide to identifying our laid back landscape
we are on the subject of book reviews, a more scholarly and somber book is
OF MISFORTUNE by Sam W. Haynes. This is an excellent explanatory companion
for a visit to Monument Hill, detailing the trials and tribulations of the Dawson
and Sommervelle/Mier Expeditions in 1842. You think you've got problems! Available
in the Gift Shop / Museum at Monument Hill State Historic Site.|
Be advised that the Creamery in Brenham
is only open for tours on weekdays, but their product is available and touted
throughout the area.
Close to La
Grange you'll find the Jersey Barnyard which is a perfect stop for city kids.
They can tour a working dairy, milk a cow and see "Belle",
the singing cow from the Bluebell commercials. Bluebell ice cream is available
and seems to taste even better in the Barnyard setting. Just think! It's already
been through one digestive system and you're sending it through another. Good
food is available throughout the area.
For newcomers to the Austin
and Houston area, we hope this trip
will introduce them to the year round diversions close to home.
There from Houston - via Hwy 290|
Thanks to the completion of Hwy 290, one can now cross Waller County in about
8 minutes. Chappell Hill is approx. 60 miles from Houston
and is your first stop if you want the most direct route to Washington County.
The alternative to Hwy 290 would be to take I-10 west to San
Stephen F. Austin State Park is here and would complement the later visit
Brazos if your trip leans toward the historic. This park contains replica
buildings and an impressive statue
of Austin. Burned by Santa Anna, the town was restored after San
Jacinto. Unfortunately no direct road connects this park with Washington-on-the
Brazos. That’s the bad news.
The good news if you want to visit both,
is that you get to drive through Bellville.
Get back on I-10 and you'll be in Sealy
before you can say "posturepedic". From Sealy take Hwy 36 to
Bellville and spend some
Continue west on 36 and it's a smooth short
drive to Brenham.
There from Austin|
Head out of town on Highway 290. Stop in Elgin
for breakfast at the City Café downtown. Continue East to Giddings
where one block south of the Hwy 77-290 intersection you'll find one of Architect
J. Riely Gordon's
Courthouse jewels. The Post Office two blocks East on 290 has a good example
of a "WPA"
mural. This one is entitled: Cowboys Receiving Mail.
Giddings you'll pass Ledbetter
and Carmine - two
small towns with antique stores, mostly open on weekends. Carmine has a beautiful
little park and playground if you want a picnic spot off the highway. A little
further is the Washington County Line. The next town you'll see will be Burton.