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Bucket List: Top Historical Sites From the Republic of Texas

February 10, 2023 Texas, Texas History

When you visit some states, it is easy to hit the top attractions in one road trip, but not in Texas where there are so many fascinating sites spread across a whopping 268,597 square miles where it takes 13 hours to drive across the state without stops!

Texas really is that big  -- the largest state in the continental U.S. and bigger than every country in Europe. Consider these fun facts from Texas Proud:

  • If Texas were a country, it would be the 40th largest in area in the world.

  • Texas has a ranch, King Ranch, that is bigger than the state of Rhode Island!

  • El Paso in southwest Texas is closer to the Pacific Ocean than it is to Texarkana in the northeast corner of the state.

  • Texas has a highway (U.S. 83) that rambles on for 783 miles from Oklahoma to the Mexican border.

  • Believe it or not, 15 states at one time could fit inside Texas: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

8 Historical Sites from the Texas Republic Era You Must Visit

All of this is a preface to the fact that before you toss the Yeti cooler in the backseat of your pickup, you better have a plan when exploring Texas.

A great place to start is to focus on a specific area such as the Republic of Texas history and the Texas Historical Commission has a ready-made bucket list of 8 Texas historical sites to visit on your next vacation that are not named The Alamo.

“Texas has a larger-than-life reputation because of its history, and visiting these sites is a great way to discover its many stories for yourself,” writes Ashley Donde for the Texas Historical Commission. “Walk the battlegrounds where Texas won her independence, see where the state’s Declaration of Independence was signed, and witness life on a working farm just as it was in the 19th century.”

Here are the 8 Texas historical sites – some of which may be a new find for even Texas natives -- to visit on your next road trip (a bonus is that some of these sites are adjacent to each other!):

  • Barrington Plantation State Historic Site: Situated between Navasota and Brenham on the Brazos River, this 150-year-old farm is on the same property as the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site and the Star of the Republic Museum, making for a day of Texas historic fun. Barrington Plantation was the original home of Dr. Anson Jones, the last President of the Republic of Texas. This living history farm comes with period-costumed interpreters demonstrating 19th-century farming practices for planting, cultivating, harvesting, and working with livestock. The family home, two slave cabins, a kitchen building, a smokehouse, a cotton house, and a barn made up the plantation.
  • Fanthorp Inn State Historic Site: Sitting about 30 miles southeast of Bryan and College Station is this historic inn on six acres. Opened in 1987, the inn demonstrates 19th-century life at an early Texas stagecoach stop and family home. Henry Fanthorp was the English immigrant who built the double-pen, cedar log dog-trot house on the site. The home was originally built in 1834 on 1,100 acres and was well-appointed on a road that became a popular stopping place for both travelers and the local community.
  • Kreische Brewery State Historic Site: Master stonemason and German immigrant Heinrich Kreische and his family bought this historic property, which includes the Monument Hill State Historic Site, in 1849. Living on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River, Kreische built a large brewery here in the 1860s. The Kreische family continued to live on the property until 1952. The site has hiking trails, picnic grounds, the Kreische family home, the brewery ruins, and a visitor center with historical exhibits.
  • Monument Hill State Historic Site: This monument, which marks the tomb of the men that died during the Dawson Massacre of September 1842 (which happened in the Texas victory over Mexico at the Battle of Salado Creek) and the failed Mier expedition of November 1842 by the Texian militia (also known as the “black bean” incident), shares space with the Kreische Brewery. Each September, reenactors participate in a memorial ceremony for the 52 men buried at the site, laying wreaths, and firing gun salutes.  
  • Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site: This lighthouse was built in 1852 to help sea captains navigate the waters off the low-lying Texas coast. A popular stop for those visiting South Padre Island, there is a museum and a reconstructed lighthouse keeper’s cottage near the 72-foot lighthouse. Not only can you climb to the top of the lighthouse, but a few Texas couples have made the scenic vista a place to exchange wedding vows!
  • San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site: This 1,300-acre site, which includes the San Jacinto Museum and 567-foot-tall San Jacinto Monument on the Houston shipping channel, celebrates the area where the final and decisive battle of the Texas Revolution was fought. General Sam Houston’s army of settlers, Tejanos, and foreign volunteers routed General Santa Anna's forces in just 18 minutes on April 21, 1836. Self-guided driving tours of the battlefield, hikes on marsh trails, as well as bird watching and fishing on the Buffalo Bayou, can all be enjoyed at the site.
  • Star of the Republic Museum: Sharing grounds with the Barrington Plantation State Historic Site and the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, the Star of the Republic Museum opened in 1970 to preserve and educate on the culture of the Texas Republic (1836-1846). Over 1,000 artifacts of social, political, and economic history are on display over two floors along with a 30-minute film, “Independence: A Lone Star Rise.”
  • Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site: Situated on the same land as the Barrington Plantation State Historic Site and the Star of the Republic Museum, this is the actual site where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed on March 2, 1836. Delegates met here during the siege of The Alamo, to declare independence from Mexico and draft a constitution for a new republic and organize an interim government. A replica building of where the delegates, such as Sam Houston, formed the new republic can be visited.

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