Visiting Deepntheharta, Texas
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
CENTRAL TEXAS–It’s easy to get to Deepntheharta, Texas – just
head toward the Hill Country around Austin.
With gas near $4 a gallon this summer, the wife and I decided to
stay (relatively) close to home with a trip to the Hill Country;
specifically Seguin, San Marcos and New Braunfels.
Neither of us had been to Seguin, which has more
historic-registered homes and buildings than any other Texas
city, and while we had both been (briefly) to New Braunfels, we
had only driven through San Marcos on Interstate 35, which is to
say, we hadn’t seen anything but freeway.
Since anywhere is a long way off in Texas, we decided to spend
most of the first day just getting to the area. We avoided I-35,
and Austin traffic, by heading down U.S. 79 and State Highway
95, which runs parallel to I-35.
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Lockhart, the county seat of Caldwell County, boasts one of the
state’s most beautiful and ornate courthouses, completed in
SH 95 runs through Elgin – arguably the barbecue capital of the
state, with four major barbecue joints – and through Lockhart,
home to the Caldwell County courthouse.
While we won’t offend some people by saying it’s the prettiest
courthouse in the state, the three-storey, 1894-vintage
courthouse is certainly one of the finest and most ornate,
featuring a central clock tower and circular porthole windows on
the top floor.
A half-block off the courthouse square stands the Dr. Eugene
Clark Library, the oldest continually operating library in the
state, established in 1899.
Continuing south to Interstate 10, a quick blast to the right
(west) gets one to Seguin, named after Juan Seguin, the last
defender to leave the Alamo (he carried Col. William Barrett
Travis’ last letter) and later a Texas Republic senator.
Originally named Walnut Springs after the area’s huge walnut
trees (los nogales in Spanish), the town grew from a Texas
Ranger station to a thriving trade center for the German and
Czech immigrants heading to New Braunfels and Fredericksburg.
It boasts the longest-used school building in the state, the
first business established by freed slaves (Wilson Pottery,
established 1869), the first established railway line and many
buildings constructed of concrete, formulated using local
Since 1912, Seguin has been home to Texas Lutheran University.
A walk around downtown includes a courthouse square park,
featuring a fountain (lit by colored lights after dark), the
Dietz Doll House (built for kids), dozens of historic buildings
and the world’s largest pecan.
About 23 miles to the northwest is San Marcos, home to Texas
State University and the San Marcos River.
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Deusenberg automobiles, such as this example housed in Dick's
Classic Garage museum in San Marcos, were big, powerful and fast
– twice as fast as an “ordinary” car of the time – and extremely
expensive. Automobiles like this one were the source of the
phrase, “it's a doozy.”
The San Marcos River gushes up out of the ground – more than 200
springs flow from three large fissures in the limestone – and
that fresh, pure water has made the area possibly one of the
oldest continually inhabited sites in North America.
Archeological digs have uncovered tools and weapons more than
12,000 years old.
Early German settlers built a dam in 1849 creating Spring Lake,
which covers the original springs.
Once a tourist destination and theme park, Aquarena Springs
introduced generations of visitors to the crystal-clear, cool
(72 degrees year-round) water through underwater performances
and glass-bottomed boats.
Texas State University now owns Aquarena Springs, but still
operates the glass-bottom boats, with guides pointing out
various flora and fauna – the springs are home to four
endangered species, with three found nowhere else in the world.
Another fascinating stop in San Marcos was Dick’s Classic
Garage, a 43,000 square-foot museum featuring about 60 classic
automobiles and pickup trucks.
Opened in 2009, Dick’s Classic Garage includes a number of
Deusenbergs, primarily Model Js, which were produced between
1928 and 1937.
The Deusenberg Model J was the biggest, fastest and most
expensive car produced in the world at the time, some costing as
much as $25,000 at a time when the average U.S. physician made
just $3,000 a year – leading to the phrase, “It’s a doozy.”
Only the chassis and engine were mass-produced; each car owner
had the body and interior custom-built by master coachworks in
America and Europe, making each Deusenberg unique.
Other outstanding examples of automotive art include boat-tail
Auburns, top-of-the line Packards, a V-16 Cadillac, Cords and
many post-war examples, including a Tucker (No. 50 of 51 built),
a 1956 Corvette, a Nash Metropolitan, and a pristine 1946
Packard “woody” station wagon, hauling a wooden Chris-Craft
About 17 miles almost due west is New Braunfels, home to a
sizeable German settlement established in the final year of the
Texas Republic, 1845, and home to the state’s oldest continually
operating newspaper, the Herald-Zeitung.
New Braunfels is famed as the home of Schlitterbahn, generally
recognized as the best water park in the world and source of the
first uphill water-coaster rides.
On the north side of town is the Gruene Historic District, the
site of an 1845 German settlement headed by Ernst Gruene.
Because there wasn’t much land available in the then-new town of
New Braunfels, Gruene purchased land just down the Guadalupe
River and established a thriving community, built around cotton
and a river-powered cotton gin.
A dance hall-saloon, Gruene Hall, became the community center
around 1878, and remains operating to this day, having housed
performances by virtually every major country and western music
star over the years.
Just downhill from Gruene Hall is the Guadalupe River, where
dozens of businesses cater to visitors (typically college
students) wanting to spend the day “tubing” downriver.
Surrounding Gruene Hall is a growing community of stores,
offering a wide range of handmade art, clothing and collectable
to the tourists who flock to the area – like us.