February, 2012. Bulverde, Texas. From Rags to Riches

Posted on February 5, 2012


What a difference a few miles makes when traveling through this wonderfully diverse country of ours.

It’s only seventy-five miles between crawfish and cows. Only seventy-five miles between potholed roads and smooth highways. Only seventy-five miles between Creole-inspired wood verandas and Spanish-inspired stone and stucco.

Only 75 miles between the fleur de lies and the lone star.

Only 75 miles between Lafayette, Louisiana and the Texas border.

While per capita income is almost the same for Louisiana and Texas (2010 census figures), Louisiana has an unkempt, funky look about it, while Texas – or at least this part of it – looks up-to-date and well-groomed.

After spending a couple days in Beaumont, visiting friends and chilling, we’re now in the Texas Hill Country, where the word “ranch” once meant the home of huge herds of cattle, sheep and goats.

Today, however, “ranch” is pretty much just one word in the name of an upscale housing development.

The Hill Country is a region in central Texas featuring tall, rugged hills consisting of thin layers of soil atop limestone or granite.

This makes for an interesting landscape. Yards in rural areas, outside of subdivisions, are mostly covered with rocks and stones with bits of weeds or whatever popping up in between.

It’s not uncommon to see a few goats grazing on the “lawn” – you certainly can’t mow it, so they provide an easy way to keep brush from getting a toehold.

The Hill Country is a fusion of Spanish and Central European influences, predominately German, with a number of small towns bearing German names.  We traveled to a couple of these, Boerne (pronounced Bernie) and New Braunfels, and will investigate both, and many others, more carefully later.

A Spanish land grant to Mexican Juan Vermendi in 1825 brought the first non-Native American settlers to this area. However, in 1845 German Prince Carl of Somes-Braunfels purchased 1,250 acres of the original grant. German settlers, attracted by the available land, came by the thousands.

Mostly all crop farmers in the Old Country, the stony ground made them quickly switch gears to cattle ranching to take better advantage of the vast land available.

These early Germans settlers left a lasting mark, as their cultural influence helped develop the unique character of this area.

Posted in: Travel - Texas