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The Alamo South Corridor

Explore:  Landmarks along the San Antonio River south of the city related to the Alamo and Spanish Colonialism
Estimated Time: 8 hours
Transport: Drive

The Alamo South Corridor explores historic sites important in the history of Spain, Mexico and the Republic of Texas. This trip takes you from San Antonio (Bexar County) 92 miles south all the way to Goliad, a key trade route connecting Bexar County to Goliad (La Bahia) that were part of the Camino Real.


Floresville

Take I-37 south to US 181 and Floresville 30 miles south of San Antonio

The county seat of Wilson County, Floresville's historic courthouse was designed by Alfred Giles in 1884. The old county jail, designed by James Reily Gordon in 1887, now serves as the Jailhouse Museum. Both of these architects were noted for their courthouse designs throughout the state of Texas. Noted events are the Market Day held the first Saturday in May in conjunction with the Alamo-La Bahia Classic Cruise (antique cars) Along the Corridor. The first Saturday in December brings the Pony Express Dewees-Remschel is open to visitors on acreage that was part of the original Dewees Ranch. John O. and Tom Dewees formed a trail driving operation with Jim Ellison in the 1870s. Ellison and Dewees‘ herd driven by D.S. Combs pioneered the Western Trail to Fort Griffin and Dodge City in 1876. Ranching operations near Floresville have existed from the 1700s when Rancho de las Cabras was established as a grazing ground for San Antonio’s Mission Espada on the San Antonio River north of Floresville; it is now part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. It can be toured the first Saturday of the month; meet at the pavilion in River Park at 10:00am for the park ranger. The second full weekend in October is the Peanut Festival with parades, a carnival and craft fair and a street dance on Saturday night.

Cestohowa

Take State Highway 97 to the east, passing by the San Antonio River Authority’s Jackson Nature Park and over Cibolo Creek to State Highway 123; turn south

This town is noted for its Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an 1878 Polish Catholic Church that rises out of the plain. The community is a daughter settlement of Panna Maria. In front of the church is a marker for El Fuerte de Cibolo that was on land at Cibolo Creek at Carvajal Crossing 2.5 miles to the north. It was established as a fort in Spanish Colonial times about halfway between the Alamo and La Bahia in Goliad. Soldiers from the fort escorted Texas cattle and horses to Gen. Bernardo de Galvez, who defeated the British in Louisiana and Florida during the American Revolution. The fort was destroyed in 1782; no physical remains are left.

Panna Maria

Continue on SH 123, 54 miles southeast of San Antonio, turn on CR 242 to Farm Road 81

This is the oldest permanent Polish settlement in the United States, founded by Fr. Leopold Moczygemba who persuaded his four brothers and other fellow Poles to leave the harsh economic conditions and Prussian domination of Upper Silesia. Traveling to Bremen by train, to Galveston by ship, then oxcart to San Antonio, the settlers journeyed three months in 1854 to their colony site of tall grass, live oaks and rattlesnakes which they names Panna Maria (Virgin Mary in Polish). The 1856 church of St. Mary has received a mosaic of the Virgin of Czestochowa from President Lyndon B. Johnson to mark the 1966 millennium of Polish Christianity. In 1987 Pope John Paul held a special audience in San Antonio for the people from Panna Maria on the occasion of his visit to the United States.

Helena

Continue east on Farm Road 81

Established in 1852 by Thomas Ruckman and Lewis S. Owings (and named for his wife), Helena is the site of an old Spanish/Mexican trading post Alamita that was the most important location on the road between San Antonio and La Bahia (Goliad). Originally the county seat of Karnes County, founded in 1854, Helena features an 1873 courthouse and the John Ruckman Home as museums.

Karnes City

Continue southwest on SH 80

This is the geographic center of Karnes County, founded in 1890 by a group of businessmen who determined its location by its proximity to the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway line. It was named in honor of Henry Wax Karnes, a hero of the Texas Revolution. It has been the county seat of since 1894 when the county records were moved in the middle of the night to the new courthouse from Helena. This settled the contest among Helena, Kenedy and Runge for the honor. The courthouse, a grand Romanesque edifice, and jail were designed by John Cormack. The celebrated annual event is the Lonesome Dove Fest, held the first weekend of the south zone dove hunting season. Featuring a parade, noted top musical entertainment, educational seminars on a variety of topics and food, it is a very well-attended local event great for capturing a real South Texas flavor.

Kenedy

Continue south on SH 123 to US 81 south

Kenedy was established in 1886 as a railroad junction on the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railway at the Y of  lines that went to Houston and to Corpus Christi on land owned by Mifflin Kenedy, the principal owner of SAAP and partner of Richard M. King, founder of the King Ranch. The land was part of a 1788 land grant along the San Antonio River made to Carlos Martinez. Its economy is based on farming, ranching, oil and gas with a big oil & gas play with the development of the Eagle Ford shale formation. In 2001 the Texas Legislature named Kenedy the Horned Lizard Capital of the World. Major festivals are Bluebonnet Days, the third weekend in April and Christmas in Kenedy on the first weekend in December, held in conjunction with the Pony Express mail ride in the Alamo-La Bahia Corridor.

Goliad

Take 181 south to SH 239 south to US 59 east

Considered the birthplace of Texas ranching, Goliad is one of the oldest Spanish colonial municipalities in the state.   Established in 1749, the fort, Presidio La Bahia, and the mission, Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga were relocated from the Guadalupe River to opposite banks of the San Antonio River to a site named Santa Dorotea where timber, sand and limestone were plentiful. Around the presidio wall grew the settlement of La Bahia. Men from the fort assisted the army of Bernardo de Gálvez, who supported the colonists in the American Revolution between 1779 and 1782. Spanish troops were garrisoned there in The Mexican War of Independence of 1810-21. In 1829 La Bahia’s representative to the Government of Texas and Coahuila, Rafael Antonio Manchola petitioned the governor to change the town’s name to Goliad, an anagram of Hidalgo, the priest who instigated the Mexican independence movement. (Also born near the presidio on 24 March 1829 was Ignacio Zaragoza, the hero of the Battle of Puebla where Mexican forces defeated the French on May 5, 1862. His birthplace may be visited.) After 1812 there were four attempts emanating from the fort to establish Texas Independence. In 1835 Goliad citizens and South Texas colonists signed the Goliad Declaration of Independence and hoisted the first flag of independence. In 1836 James Fannin took command of the post, but he and 500 men were captured in their evacuation by the Mexican army and later executed. There is a monument at the execution site. In 1836 Goliad County was established with Goliad the county seat; the town was incorporated three years later under the Republic of Texas. The present courthouse, designed by Alfred Giles, was constructed in 1894 and restored to original condition in 2006. On the north side is the Hanging Tree, or Cart War Oak, which was used for authorized executions and lynchings. They were brought about by the Cart Wars, which pitted the faster Mexican carters against their slower Anglo transportation rivals. The Texas Rangers stopped the hangings in 1857. Special events include Goliad Market Days, 2nd Saturday of each month;  Goliad County Fair & PRCA Rodeo, usually 3rd weekend in March; Christmas in Goliad, 1st weekend in December.

Falls City

Return trip: SH 239 to Kenedy, US 181N to I-37

Established near a switch and depot, Goliad was built in 1886, on the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway and named after several falls on the San Antonio River. A number of people moved from Panna Maria and Cestohowa to be near the railroad and thus became a predominately Polish-American community.

Poth

Also established as a switch on the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway in 1886. First called Marcelina, but renamed Poth in 1901 after the owner of the cotton gin in town.