Colorado, Austin, Fayette, Bastrop counties

Columbus Travel Blog

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Columbus, Colorado County

Sep 26-Sep 27, 2015
Distance driven: 250 miles
Counties visited: Colorado, Austin, Fayette, Bastrop
A few weeks ago I went camping with some friends the Stephen F. Austin park near Houston.  This was near the original Anglo settlement in Texas, San Felipe de Austin.  On the way there and back I stopped at a few of the courthouses and learned more about Texas history.  My friend and I drove in from Austin and another friend was driving in from San Antonio.  Along the way we stopped at Hruskas in Ellinger for some kolaches, it was crazy busy and we had to park on the other side of the road!  After stocking up on some cherry and pumpkin kolaches, we continued on to Columbus.  Our friend Dean wasn\'t here yet so we went into town to have a look around.

The Columbus area is one of the oldest Anglo-settled areas of Texas.  Settlers first arrived in 1821 with Stephen F. Austin when Texas was still part of Mexico.  Initial settlement was mostly along the Colorado and Brazos rivers.  The gorgeous Colorado county courthouse was on the main square. It was constructed in 1890 and originally had a clock tower that was damaged in a hurricane in 1909 and replaced with a dome.  On one side of the courthouse was a unique crenellated water tower that house a (closed) Confederate museum.  On the other side of the courthouse was an old tree where court was held before the original courthouse was built.

We continued on to have lunch at Jerry Mikeska\'s Bar-B-Q while waiting on Dean to arrive.  This restaurant has been in operation since 1987.  The owner was a prolific hunter and I\'m pretty sure he had taken aim at anything that moved.  The walls were covered with stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes.  There was a couple of anemic polar bears greeting you at the door and some scrawny squirrels.  BBQ was OK, nothing special.  Jerry himself was wandering around the room, dressed in a bow tie.

We continued along I-10 past Sealy for the turn-off for Stephen F. Austin state park.  Nearby is the original Anglo settlement in Texas, San Felipe de Austin, founded in 1824 by Stephen F. Austin and the Old 300.  Nothing remains of the original town as it was burned by the settlers during the Texas war of Independence from Mexico just 11 years later.

We spent the rest of the afternoon hiking around the park and spent the night camping.  On the drive back to Austin the next day we visited a few more courthouses.  First stop was Bellville in Austin county, just a short drive from the park.  This courthouse was actually disappointing, it was a modern (ugly) block of a building. in the middle of a roundabout.  We had a wander about town and came upon the much-more interesting old county jail, which was now a museum.  Unfortunately my phone battery had just died as I\'d been overusing the GPS... so didn\'t get any pictures here.

Next we drove through the town of Fayetteville, which was named after Fayetteville in North Carolina.  There was an old wooden courthouse here, though this is not the county seat.  There was also a historical marker describing the \'Slovanska Podporujici Jednota Statu Texas\', the Czech-Texas fraternal organization.  Central Texas had large immigrations from central and Eastern Europe, and the food and names here still reflect that.  The area around New Braunfels and Fredericksburg had large German immigrant populations.

Next stop was La Grange, the county seat of Fayette county.  I\'d driven past La Grange dozens of times on SH71 but had never actually been to the town center.  Today was Sunday so it was pretty dead.  Despite also being completed in 1891, the courthouse was different style than the one in Columbus.  The courthouse was designed by James Reily Gordon, who went on to design over a dozen Texas courthouses before gaining national fame.  On the way out of town we stopped at Weikel\'s, another famous kolache bakery.

Bastrop was our last stop on the way back to Austin.  Along the way you can still see the damage from the huge forest fire that hit the area east of Bastrop during the severe drought in 2011.  I\'d been to Bastrop a few times but had never been by the courthouse.  The courthouse was completed in 1883.  The old (still in use) jail is next door, connected by a walkway.

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Columbus, Colorado County
Columbus, Colorado County
photo by: hauteboy