Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Texas Hill Country Trail Region

Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section).
Comal County | Comal County Courthouse | Faust Street Bridge | First Patented Wire Fence | German Pioneers in Texas | Natural Bridge Caverns | Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Mission | Sophienburg Museum
Comal County

Marker Title: Comal County
City: New Braunfels
County: Comal
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: On Business IH 35, just north of intersection with SH 46, New Braunfels - (1 mi. N. New Braunfels, US 81)
Marker Text: Formed from Travis and Bexar land districts. Created - March 24,1846; Organized - July-13, 1846; Named for the river, so called from the pancake shape of the islands formed by its springs. New Braunfels, county seat established March 21,1845. Named in honor of the founder Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels.

Comal County Courthouse

Marker Title: Comal County Courthouse
City: New Braunfels
County: Comal
Year Marker Erected: 1993
Marker Location: 150 N Sequin, New Braunfels
Marker Text: In 1846 Comal County held its first court session in the home of its county clerk, Conrad Seabaugh. Courthouse facilities acquired in 1849 proved inadequate and were replaced with a 2-story building at the southeast corner of the city plaza in 1860. The building fell into disrepair and in 1898 the county chose famous Texas courthouse architect J. Riley Gordon to design a new courthouse. Gordon's original design, incorporating four entrances compatible with the building's proposed location at the center of the plaza, was nevertheless retained when this corner lot site was chosen instead . Austin contractors Fischer and Lamie used stone quarried 10 miles north of New Braunfels on land owned by Texas/U.S.statesman Edward Mandell House to build this courthouse in 1898. The 3 1/2 story Romanesque-style structure features rounded pavilion entrances often employed by Gordon and includes dramatic massing and superb detail in its stone work. A 1929-31 large stone jail addition was designed by Jeremiah Schmidt of New Braunfels. The courthouse underwent considerable interior and minor exterior renovations in 1966-67 and 1987. The courthouse reflects New Braunfel's German heritage and the spirit of Comal County at the turn of the twentieth century. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1993

Faust Street Bridge

Marker Title: Faust Street Bridge
City: New Braunfels
County: Comal
Year Marker Erected: 1999
Marker Location: East end of Faust Street, at Guadalupe River.
Marker Text: Caravans carrying supplies to Spanish missions in east Texas and other travelers crossed the Guadalupe River on El Camino Real (The King's Highway) near this site in the 18th century. It sometimes took weeks for floodwaters to subside so travelers could cross. In 1887, the Comal County commissioners court contracted with the King Iron Bridge Company of Ohio to build a high water bridge over the Guadalupe River. Among the last wrought iron bridges built in Texas and one of the first long-term toll-free structures completed over a major waterway in the state, this monumental truss structure extends more than 640 feet in length. It is comprised of two main spans, known as Pratt (Whipple) truss spans, flanked by two smaller spans. The Whipple was a variation on the more typical Pratt truss style bridge design which enjoyed brief but explosive popularity in the mid- to late-19th century. These trusses are connected by a pin-and-hanger system, which was the common method of the time. The spans are supported by oval-shaped masonry piers with rusticated stonework and pointed, or "cut-water," ends. In 1917, the Texas Highway Department designated the Faust Street bridge to serve as a major crossing for all traffic between Austin and San Antonio on state highway 2, formerly the Austin-San Antonio post road. In 1934, a new concrete highway bridge was erected. The Faust Street bridge continued to serve local traffic until it was damaged by fire in 1979. Its unique design, using a combination of Pratt and Whipple truss types, and its wrought iron construction place the Faust Street bridge among the important historic bridges in the state. Recorded Texas

First Patented Wire Fence

Marker Title: First Patented Wire Fence
City: New Braunfels
County: Comal
Year Marker Erected: 1982
Marker Location: 100 block Landa St., entrance to Wurstfest grounds at Landa Park, New Braunfels.
Marker Text: [Special fence design at top of inscription] Virgina native William H. Meriwether (b. 1800), an early Comal County plantation owner, ran a sawmill, cotton gin and gristmill at this site. As an agriculturalist, he was aware of the need for an economical and practical source of fencing material. His interest led to the development of smooth wire and board fence that effectively resisted the temperature changes that had been so damaging to earlier wire fences. His invention known as snake wire fencing, was awarded patent No.10211 on November 8, 1853. It was the first patent for wire fence issued in the United States. Although not widely accepted, Meriwether's fence was an important step in the development of an economical fencing material. It also played a role in later wire fence patent disputes. Meriwether sold his mill site to German native Joseph Landa in 1859 and moved to Tennessee, where he died in 1861. (1982)

German Pioneers in Texas

Marker Title: German Pioneers in Texas
City: New Braunfels
County: Comal
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: Hwy. 306, about 12 mi. NE of New Braunfels at North Lookout on Canyon Dam.
Marker Text: In this area, now covered by Canyon Lake, German emigrants were the first settlers. A society of Nobles (Mainzer Adelsverein) sponsored the emigration of 7,380 Germans to Texas from 1844 to 1847. They founded New Braunfels in 1845. Moving west, they established Fredericksburg in 1846. Their Comanche Indian treaty opened 3,800,000 acres between the Llano and Colorado Rivers to peaceful settlement. Farmers and artisans, scholars and scientists, they triumphed over epidemic and privation to help build Texas and the West.

Natural Bridge Caverns

Marker Title: Natural Bridge Caverns
City: New Braunfels
County: Comal
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: From New Braunfels about 8.5 mi. west, caverns located on FM 1863.
Marker Text: Discovered March 27, 1960, by four students of St. Mary's University, San Antonio. Named for the rock bridge that marks entrance. Dedicated on August 5, 1964 by Governor John Connally. Of early cretaceous age; still forming. Site of artifacts from 5000 B.C., and human remains at least 8,000 years old; also Indian campsites. 1967

Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Mission

Marker Title: Site of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Mission - Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission
City: New Braunfels
County: Comal
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Text: Established on 1756 in the Guadalupe River at or near present New Braunfels as an extension of the ill-fated Mission San Francisco Xavier de Horcasitas (1746-1755). Earlier located 100 miles northeast, San Francisco Xavier had been shaken by attacks, disease, and strife between friars and soldiers, which had climaxed in the murder of a friar in 1752. Although most of the personnel and Indian converts (neophytes) fled, the mission continued until 1755. After that time it moved to the Guadalupe River to gather its scattered Mayeye Indians, who refused to enter Valero Mission (the Alamo) in San Antonio. Like the other three San Xavier missions, San Francisco Xavier was short-lived. Good features at the site included five springs, fertile fields, timber, meadows and the nearby river. Two friars ran the small mission, with a citizen guard, so as to avoid friction. Four Spanish families and 41 Indians (27 of them baptized) comprised the inhabitants of the mission as of January, 1757. Never a strong mission, Guadalupe continued only until March, 1758. At this time the church withdrew its staff because of increasingly dangerous raids by Comanches and other northern tribes.

Sophienburg Museum and Archives

Museum Name: Sophienburg Museum and Archives
City: New Braunfels
Zip Code: 78130
Street Address: 401 W Coll
Area Code: 210
Phone: 629-1572
County: Comal

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