Since starting our RV adventures 2014, we’ve come to appreciate and love small towns all across America. The town we started in Taylorsville, Kentucky and then trekking through Gering, Nebraska, Lucas and Wilson in Kansas, and Deer Lodge, Montana (just to name a few, have etched wonderful memories in our minds.
But one stands alone in pulling our heartstrings. The quaint, slow-growing small town of Castroville that brings us back every couple years.
Castroville is sort of our ‘home away from home’ that we added to our list of favorite Big Cities Small Towns.
Castroville, Texas, 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.
Like most small towns in America, young people are eager to leave after high school and visitors complain ‘there’s nothing there’. And those who are looking for work or big careers avoid such towns like Castroville because of their lesser amenities.
However, there’s a whole lot going on if folks would just get out of their car, walk the towns and learn about the culture and the people, they would soon find themselves wanting a place like Castroville to settle down in.
A historic little town with a rich cultural heritage, Castroville is nestled in the Medina River Valley just fifteen 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 whom the town is named. The first European emigrant settlers in this area were mostly Catholic farmers from Alsace, France. They were brought over to fulfill Castro’s contract to colonize vacant Texas Land.
The Alsatians were mostly of German decent speaking dialects 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 European immigrants.
Land in Europe was expensive and hard to come by. It was usually only promised to the first born son. So, Henri Castro and his free Texas land were a dream to these Alsation immigrant settlers.
The first settlers set sail for the promised land on November 4, 1843. The voyage lasted 66 days. They experienced hardships such as soiled clothing, human stench, cramped quarters and a cold climate.
They landed in the port of Galveston, Texas on January 9, 1844 only to find out that they still must travel 200 miles inland to find their settling place.
The new immigrants 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 twenty-seven of the seven hundred original colonists started their journey to the small town, now known as Castroville, to set up their lives.
Today, Castroville’s population is about 3000.
Small Texas town with big personality
We first anchored for winter of 2015-16 in Castroville for about four months. It was the longest we’ve been in one place since our leaving our launching point. We were en enjoying San Antonio so much, that we never gave Castroville a second thought until it was almost time to leave.
What we did in Castroville
The town of Castroville is home to over 100 buildings and homes that are over 150 years old standing the test of time. Today, there’s a few antique stores, churches, consignment stores and your typical small town shops and businesses.
Even has its’ own Farmers Market
After reading the local historic signs, we meandered over to the Saturday Farmer’s Market. Making talk with the local farmers, we also picked up some produce, a couple dozen local eggs and local honey.
He’d hand me jars muttering with his mouth full, “buy these”. We stocked up on pepper jellies, cheeses and party meats. It was fun to sample before buying.
So, now you see why we love to go the unbeaten path. Its because that’s where a lot of America’s hidden historic treasures are like Castroville, Texas.
It’s not only about the history and culture and what each small town offers but about the people who currently live there. They each have their own story and their personal ties to such a beautiful little town.
Unfortunately, most don’t appreciate these small towns; often labeling them as fly-overs. They just pass through giving no thought to these map dot gems. But we have a deep appreciation of these small towns, like Castroville, that have deep roots and even deeper hearts and minds.
Since you’re in Texas Hill Country, you may want to check out: