Those who have been following our blog may have put two and two together to notice that we, appreciate and love America’s small towns; out of the way of big cities. While the big cities boast so many cool and cultural things to do and see, we think Small Town America is where our Country is cool.
Since 2014,, we’ve stayed in Taylorsville KY, Gering in Nebraska…Penrose in Colorado…and Castroville in Texas
Let’s talk about our most recent ‘home away from home’ that we added to our list of favorite Big Cities Small Towns
, is twenty miles west of San Antonio; a mere 30 minute drive to San Antonio’s boasted Riverwalk. A little about this wonderful small town in the Lone Star State.
Castroville is a historic little town with a rich cultural heritage nestled in the Medina River Valley just 15 miles west of San Antonio. It is known as “The Little Alsace of Texas” because of its origins.
The town was founded in 1844 by Henri Castro, for whom the town is named. The first European emigrant settlers in this area were mostly Catholic farmers from Alsace, a region of France, brought over to fulfill Castro’s contract to colonize vacant Texas Land. Calling themselves Alsatians, they were mostly of German decent speaking a dialect of German and French.
The first town colonized on the Medina River and west of San Antonio, Castroville and its fertile Texas land and invigorating climate was seen as having endless possibilities to the Europeans. Land in Europe was expensive and hard to come by and usually only promised to the first born son. Henri Castro and his “Free Texas Land” were a dream to these settlers.
The first settlers set sail for the promised land on November 4, 1843. The voyage lasted 66 days and they experienced hardships such as no laundry, no bath, cramped quarters and a cold climate. They landed in the port of Galveston on January 9, 1844 only to find out that they still must travel 200 miles inland to find their resting place.
They began their long trek down the Spanish trail to San Antonio. They arrived in San Antonio and waited for their leader, Henri Castro. On September 1, 1844, Castro and 27 of the 700 original colonists started their journey to the site now known as Castroville. Today’s population is about 3000.
Unfortunately, most don’t appreciate these small towns; often labeling them as ‘fly overs’. Kids are eager to leave after high school and visitors complain ‘there’s nothing there’ or they just pass through giving no thought to these map dot gems. However, there’s a whole lot going on if folks would just get out of their car (or RV), walk the towns and learn about the culture and the people.
We were anchored for winter of 2015-16 in Castroville for about four months; the longest we’ve been in one place since our leaving Taylorsville, Kentucky. We got so wrapped up in enjoying San Antonio that we never gave Castroville a second thought until I got the notion to blog about this adorable little town.
Occasional Sunday mornings, we’d get a tad dressed up and drive a mile and a half over to the quaint little Le Chat Noir Eatery
for brunch. We try to support local restaurants and businesses so we were so thrilled we gave this one a try. Sort of hidden in the town itself, off the beaten path (Highway 90),
this is one not to miss! Take it from us, if you’re out this way, make it a point to stop for vittles at this old French inspired, quiet cafe’ for later-week lunch or brunch on Sundays.
(UPDATE: Sadly, this restaurant is no longer in business.).
As we walked the town, we noticed the many vintage buildings and structures. We’ve learned that the town of Castroville boasts having over 100 buildings that are over 150 years old that continue to stand the test of time.
We browsed antique stores…
…and several of the little shops, including Castroville Pottery on Fiorella Street where we spent about a half hour chatting with Eveylyn and browsing. We admired the shop’s handcrafted pottery. Unfortunately, we couldn’t buy any of their wares because of weight and space in our RV. Nonetheless, it was still nice to pick up the pieces and ogle their beauty and craftsmanship. We appreciate good handcrafts and appreciate the story and personality behind them.
We also learned about some of the historic churches.
After walking through a couple of blocks, we meandered over to the Saturday Farmer’s Market which we dearly loved! We picked up two dozen of local eggs and a jar of honey.
We purchased our greens from this farmer who also spent a little time educating us on nutritional value of some of greens we picked out.
A few steps down the street, we went inside the cool little gourmet shop Taste Elevated
where while I chatted with Lori Krieger (owner) while Dan was sampling all the cheeses, chutneys, pestos and crackers.
We purchased some after he brought them to me with his mouth full, muttering, ‘buy these’. We stocked up before leaving. Who can beat small-town-friendly with delicious?
We enjoyed this small town that could very well be the town we all come from.
So, now you see why we chose to go the unbeaten path because that’s where America’s hidden treasures are; the people, the history, the culture and the beauty of the country that surrounds.
Related blogs you may be interested in:
City Slickin’ in San Antonio
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