Castroville, Texas – Small Town with Big Personality
If you’ve been following our blog may have noticed that we love America’s small towns. While the big cities boast so many cool and cultural attractions to do and see, the allure of Small Town America is what draws us.
Since 2014,, we’ve enjoyed our stays in small towns across the country like Taylorsville KY, Gering, NE, Lucas and Wilson, KS, Deer Lodge, MT as well as Penrose in Colorado. But one stands out; a quaint yet growing town just outside of San Antonio, Castroville, Texas.
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 American, young people are eager to leave after high school and visitors complain ‘there’s nothing there’. 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.
A historic little town with a rich cultural heritage, Castroville is 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 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. Calling themselves Alsatians, they 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 Europeans. Land in Europe was expensive and hard to come by. It was 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. They experienced hardships such as soiled clothing, human stench, 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 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 27 of the 700 original colonists started their journey to the small town now known as Castroville to set up their lives. Today’s population is about 3000.
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.
Small 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…
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 love local eateries like this one. It was off the beaten path (Highway 90), not one to miss. It was an amazing old French inspired, quiet cafe’ for late-week lunch or brunch on Sundays. (UPDATE: Sadly, this restaurant is no longer in business.).
The town of Castroville is home to over 100 buildings and homes that are over 150 years old standing the test of time.
There are a few quaint antique stores…
…and several of the little shops, including Castroville Pottery on Fiorella Street. We spent about a half hour chatting with Eveylyn and while admiring the shop’s handcrafted pottery. Unfortunately, we couldn’t buy any of their wares but, nonetheless, it was still a treat to appreciate their beauty and craftsmanship.
We also learned about some of the historic churches.
Every town has a Farmers Market…
After reading the 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.
We purchased some greens from this local farmer who also spent a little time chatting about his livelihood and his offerings.
We then found this cool little gourmet food shop, Taste Elevated, where I chatted with the owner, Lori Krieger. Dan, of course, was off sampling all the cheeses, chutneys, pestos and crackers.
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. Its about the people, their history, their culture and the beauty of the country that surrounds.
Next time you’re in San Antonio area, take a jaunt out to Castroville to enjoy this small town with big personality!