Western Trips

Western Trips

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gruene Texas on the Old Austin to San Antonio Stage Route

gristmill restaurant in gruene texas
Gristmill Restaurant
Gruene Texas is one of those old historic Texas towns that seems to get more popular as each year goes by. For people passing through the state on a Texas vacation, Gruene just happens to be located in a very well traveled part of the state.

If you're considering a 2014 Texas vacation to the Hill Country you may want to make a note to check on the upcoming summer dates for the Old Gruene Market Days. This annual event takes place in July and features over one-hundred vendors displaying unique crafted items and a great selection of Texas packaged food. It's one of the biggest events in Gruene all year and makes for a fun side trip.

In The Texas Hill Country

A trip to Gruene makes a good companion trip to several other nearby Hill Country towns such as Fredericksburg Texas, Luckenbach Texas and Wimberley Texas. You'll find many excellent New Braunfels hotels and hotels in Gruene at all price ranges. You'll also want to check out the Gruene Mansion Inn which is one of the best bed and breakfast in Texas. One restaurant for sure to check out in Gruene is the Gristmill. I've been there several times and it's excellent. It's one of the most popular restaurants in town.

The town of Gruene (known as Goodwin until the 1880's)  is only a couple of miles north of New Braunfels which, among other things, is home to the original Schlitterbahn Water Park. Schlitterbahn attracts thousands of tourists yearly from Texas and all the surrounding states.

Gruene Texas is also located on the Guadalupe River which is a summer mecca for river rafting enthusiasts. Also, about 30 miles south of Gruene and New Braunfels is the Natural Bridge Caverns attraction which is a fascinating stop. This area of Texas is really filled with many historic towns and plenty of things to do that are family oriented.

Founded in 1872

gruene hall
Gruene Hall
Gruene Texas was founded in 1872 by Heinrich D. Gruene who purchased and settled on 6,000 acres three miles north of New Braunfels. This area of south central Texas was home to a great number of German immigrants.

\Heinrich Gruene planted cotton and in 1878 opened a general store to sell to the families who were sharecropping on his land.

The small settlement of Gruene was greatly benefited by the fact that it was on the Austin to San Antonio stage route. Not a small benefit at all in the 1800's. back then your traveling options were to walk, ride a horse or take a stage coach.

After the end of the Civil War hundreds of mail contracts for Texas routes were given out. Many were for relatively short routes between small towns, and there was stage service to nearly every Texas community. Prior to the railroads, the stage lines carried the mail and after the railroad came through the area stages were still used to ferry people to the rail heads. 

In the 1880's the International-Great Northern Railroad had it's line run through Gruene and this was about the time the town changed it's name from Goodwin to Gruene in a move to honor the town's founder. When the railroad ran through Gruene, that marked the towns highpoint. The town grew and prospered, mostly through it's massive crop of cotton along with financial and shipping services. In the year 1900, Gruene was a bustling small town.

The Twentieth Century

gruene texas bed and breakfast
Gruene Mansion Inn
The 1920's however were not kind to Gruene. The boll weevil blight destroyed it's cotton crop and after that the town entered the Great Depression of the 1930's. Things didn't get better.

After World War Two the highways pretty much bypassed the town and the Interstate highway system place I-35 about three miles east of the town center. The town was essentially abandoned by 1950.

Beginning in the 1970's all of this started to change. Tourism in Texas was growing.  A restoration effort of area structures began. This included one of the most historic structures in the town today, Gruene Hall and the old mercantile store once run by Heinrich Gruene.

The Gruene Hall claims to be "the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas." The hall was built in 1880 and virtually served as the social center of the small town. When you visit Gruene Hall today you will see quite an active entertainment venue. Over the years Gruene Hall has hosted performers such as Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, George Strait and many others. There is now a Gruene music genre and you can now enjoy the Annual Gruene Music and Wine Festival. This is a fun festival celebrating everything that's Texas. The Gruene Music and Wine Festival features wine tastings, live music, door prizes, a catered dinner, silent auction, handmade crafts and accessories market, specialty beer tastings and lots more.

When you visit Gruene today lodging choices include some very quaint B & B's. A fine selection of restaurants are available and the summer months promise a good amount of fun events. A side trip to Gruene goes real well with a visit to San Antonio  with it's unique River Walk area and of course the historic Alamo. In the other direction, driving north from Gruene, you have the Texas State Capitol in Austin along with it's great dining choices and the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

See the Western Trips articles on the links below...

Dripping Springs Texas Frontier Settlement 

Guenther House and Pioneer Flour Mill / San Antonio

Directions to Gruene Texas

guadalupe river in gruene texas
Guadalupe River in Gruene
Driving south on Interstate-35 from the Austin area, you would want to exit at Exit 191 and dive west about 3 miles and follow the signs. Gruene is located 46 miles south of Austin Texas.

Two websites that will give you up to date information regarding events in Gruene Texas and choices of accommodations as well as information about nearby New Braunfels Texas are...

Gruene Texas Tourism

Gristmill Restaurant

(Article and phtos copyright Western Trips)

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