If you're looking for an educational outing for the family or just want to brush up on your Texas history, travel the Texas Independence Trail. This is the first in a series of articles featuring historic Texas sites that trace the dramatic path to Texas independence.
Here's the historical timeline:
- 1824: Stephen F. Austin established the first Anglo settlement at San Felipe
- October, 1835: First shots of the revolution fired at Gonzales
- March 2, 1836: Texas Declaration of Independence signed at Washington-on-the-Brazos
- March 6, 1836: The Alamo falls to Santa Anna's army after a 13-day siege
- March 27, 1836: Colonel Fannin and his troops are massacred at Goliad
- April 21, 1836: Sam Houston's army defeats Santa Anna at San Jacinto
- 1846: Texas becomes part of the United States of America
In 1824 Stephen F. Austin, known as the "Father of Texas," brought the first 297 families to a spot on the Brazos River, as part of his plan to colonize Texas under a contract with the Mexican government.
San Felipe de Austin was the social, economic, and political center of Texas until 1836, when General Sam Houston burned it to the ground to keep it out of Mexican hands as Santa Anna's army advanced.
The San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site commemorates the location of this first Anglo settlement in Texas. The site includes a replica of Stephen F. Austin's dog-trot log cabin where he conducted business with the colonists, along with historical markers and an impressive statue of Austin.
The visitor's center features interpretive panels and a diorama of the colonial capital circa 1830, and there's an activity areas for weekend programs.
The adjacent Stephen F. Austin State Park offers picnic areas, hiking and mountain biking trails, and fishing. There are 105 campsites available, along with 20 screened shelters.
Getting There: San Felipe is just off I-10, about an hour west of downtown Houston or two hours east of Austin. Near Sealy, turn onto FM 1458, then turn onto Park Road 38 to reach Stephen F. Austin State Park. The San Felipe State Historic Site is on the left, just past the entrance to the state park.