Since beginning my long-term quest to visit every county seat in the USA, I’ve visited Texas frequently. In fact, since 2013, I’ve taken six county collecting trips to the Lone Star State (I've actually visited seven times, but my trip to San Antonio in November 2017 did not include any “new” county seats). Texas has the most counties of any state (254 to be exact), and I’ve now been to 201 of them. I expect I’ll need two more trips to complete the remaining 53. Here’s where I’ve been to date.
Before this most recent trip, this is how the map looked.
It’s nice to fill in the spaces between the north and south parts of Texas. The other “accomplishment” from this visit was that I’ve now visited every US county that borders Mexico. From San Diego County, California across Arizona and New Mexico, all the way to Cameron County, Texas (Brownsville), I’ve collected postcards from each county seat. In fact the entire southern border is now almost complete from California to Florida. Only Jefferson County, Texas (Beaumont) and three or four parishes in Louisiana remain.
There were a few highlights during the 4-day, 2.016-mile journey. I made my first visit to Austin, so with my recent stop in Tallahassee last month, that leaves just 7 state capitals to go.
Later that same day, in Johnson City, I came across the boyhood home of Lyndon Johnson, now part of the Lyndon Johnson National Historic Park. For those interested, the LBJ Ranch (also part of the NHP) is located about 14 miles west near Stonewall, TX. BTW, Johnson City is not named for the former President, but for his uncle James Polk Johnson, who founded the city in 1879.
On road trips like this, there’s always more to see than historic sites and county courthouses. In the town of Junction, just down the road from the courthouse, I discovered the Deer Horn Tree. As one might expect, the area has a large population of whitetail deer, so in 1968 the locals built this tree. They claim it is “one of the most photographed attractions in Texas.” I find that a bit hard to believe, but since I’m another crazy tourist who took a picture, who am I to argue?
It reminded me a little of the elk antler arch in Afton, Wyoming featured in my blog post Famous Potatoes.
South of San Antonio in the city of George West (yes, that’s the name of the place), I found a curious display on the courthouse grounds. In a small, glass-walled building, is Geronimo, a Texas longhorn steer, who died in 1927. Where else but in Texas would you find something like this?
Near the end of the journey, I stopped in Lockhart, the Caldwell County seat. If anyone has seen the film Waiting for Guffman, the courthouse may look familiar. It served as the city hall for the fictitious town of Blaine, Missouri where the movie was set. Many locations in and around Lockhart were used during filming.
The properties I stayed at were nice, though mostly unremarkable. The Residence Inn near the airport in Austin, the Springhill Suites in San Angelo (an excellent category 2 hotel), and the TownePlace Suites in Eagle Pass (a very nice category 1 property) were all fine representations of their respective brands. I’d stay at any of them again. The one standout was the JW San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. Other than the resort fee (at least it included 2 “welcome drinks”), everything about this place was wonderful. The upgrade from a standard room to an executive suite was much appreciated for my last night on the road. I arrived early enough to take advantage of the pool/water park, and with several great restaurants on site, there was no reason to leave the resort that evening. It was a nice way to wrap up my Texas trip.
Up next are two weekend jaunts. The first will take me to southern Louisiana; the second to central Missouri. It’s hard to imagine what I’ll find on the way, but whatever it is, you can read about it in the next installments.