AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #50a -- St. Louis, Missouri to San Antonio, Texas
Part 9 - San Marcos to San Antonio
Temple to San Marcos


968    SAN MARCOS station, 338 S. Guadalupe Street.  Elevation approximately 585 ft.  The station also serves CARTS, the Capital Area Rural Transportation System.  San Marcos is the county seat of Hays County, and was first explored in the 1680’s by the Spaniard Alonso de Leon, who arrived at the beginning of the San Marcos River on April 25 of that year, the Feast Day of St. Mark the Evangelist, thus the river was named the San Marcos, and the town that arose later was given the same name.

          In November of 1846, the first Anglos settled in the vicinity of the San Marcos Springs.  In 1846, the Texas Legislature designated San Marcos as the Hays County seat.  The town became a center for ginning and milling local agricultural products.  The town's most notable founder and early settler was General Edward Burleson, a hero of the Texas Revolution and former Vice President of the Republic of Texas.  In 1881, the In International Great Northern Railroad came through the area, and cattle and cotton subsequently provided the basis for the growth of San Marcos as a center for commerce and transportation.  In 1899, Southwest Texas State Normal School (now known as Texas State University) was established as a teacher's college to meet demand for public school teachers in Texas.  In 1942, the San Marcos Army Airfield was opened, then renamed San Marcos Air Force Base in 1947, then finally renamed in 1953 in honor of Lieutenant Arthur Edward Gary, who was killed at Clark Field in the Philippines on December 7, 1941, the first San Marcan to die in World War II.

         The second Saturday of June each year marks the beginning of the annual Texas Water Safari in San Marcos, a 262-mile nonstop canoe race from San Marcos to Seadrift, Texas, north of Corpus Christi, in which participants must navigate the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers, along with San Antonio Bay.  Each September, San Marcos hosts the Republic of Texas Chilympiad, a State chili cooking contest, with the winner going on to the World Chili Cookoff in Terlingua, Texas.  San Marcos is also the home of Wonder World, a large earthquake-formed cave system associated with the Edwards Limestone and the Balcones Escarpment.

972.5 On the left (southbound) is the San Marcos Premium Outlet Mall.

975    Enter COMAL County and pass through Hunter.  The word “Comal” is Spanish for “flat dish,” and the county was so named by the early Spanish settlers either for the small islands within the Guadalupe River, or the shallow basin through which the river flows.  In 1842, the Adelsverein (Association of Noblemen at Biebrich on the Rhine) was organized in Germany to promote immigration to Texas, and in 1845, Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels secured title to land originally granted to Juan Martín de Veramendi by Mexico in 1825, including the Comal Springs and River, for the Adelsverein. In the succeeding years, thousands of Germans and Americans were attracted to the rich farm and ranch land around New Braunfels.  Settlement progressed rapidly, and in March of 1846, the Texas legislature created Comal County from the Eighth Precinct of Bexar County and made New Braunfels the county seat.

          Hunter was named after Andrew Jackson Hunter, who in 1867 settled nearby and operated a thousand-acre cotton farm.  The townsite was established and named with the arrival of the International and Great Northern Railroad in 1880.

          The Balcones Escarpment is visible to the west (right if southbound), and is capped by the Edwards Limestone.

980    The hills in the left distance (southbound) are composed of Upper Cretaceous-aged Pecan Gap Chalk, which has been significantly faulted in this area.

983-987 Pass through New Braunfels, the county seat of Comal County.  The community was established in 1845 by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, Germany, Commissioner General of the Adelsverein (see MP 975 above.)  Prince Solms named the settlement in honor of his home of Solms-Braunfels, Germany.  The German immigrants began arriving in New Braunfels by 1844.  Nicolaus Zink, an engineer, led the first group of German immigrants up the Guadalupe River.  In 1845, the settlers led by Zink, built a fortress for defending the community against hostile Indians, and called it "Zinkenburg", after which they divided the land, and began building homes and planting crops. Prince Solms would also lay the cornerstone for the Sophienburg, a permanent fort and center for the immigrant association. In 1844, Prince Solms was so disillusioned with the logistics of the colonization that he asked the Adelsverein to remove him as Commissioner-General and appoint a successor, who turned out to be John O. Meusebach.  Meusebach stabilized the community's finances, and encouraged the settlers to establish additional neighboring communities.  The largest of these secondary settlements was Fredericksburg, 80 miles northwest of New Braunfels.  New Braunfels thrived, and by 1850, it was the 4th largest city in Texas.

         Like the San Marcos, the Comal River begins at a spring within the New Braunfels city limits.  The city still consists largely of citizens of German ancestry, and contains the Gruene Historical District, established in the 1840’s by the Gruene family. The settlement is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.  New Braunfels is also the home of the Hummel Museum, the Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture, and the Sophienburg Museum. New Braunfels is also well known as the home of Schlitterbahn, a 65-acre water park, which includes more than 17 waterslides. The Schlitterbahn Park has been featured on cable television’s Travel Channel.

989.5 Pass through the former settlement of Dittlinger, which originated in 1907 as a company town when H. Dittlinger established a lime kiln here.  In 1934 the property was sold to the United States Gypsum Company.  Note the large quarry on the right (southbound), which was excavated in the Edwards Limestone.

992   The hillside on the right (southbound) is composed of Edwards Limestone. The railroad here runs adjacent to a normal fault, in which the west side has moved down relative to the right side.  Sediments on the right side of the fault (left side of the train if southbound) consist of Pleistocene-aged alluvial and terrace deposits.

995   Pass through the community of Ogden, an industrial site established by the Servtex Minerals Company, which originally operated the large quarry in the Edwards Limestone which may be visible on the right (southbound) through the trees.

996.5 On the left (southbound) is the Kitty Hawk ultralite Flightpark, where allegedly, Salem bin Laden, Osama's older brother, took off on May 29, 1988, and then died in a plane crash shortly after takeoff.

999   Pass through Bracken, named after William Bracken, who acquired land in the area in 1849.  The townsite on the new International Great Northern Railroad was named Davenport, after James G. Davenport, who settled here in 1868.  The name was changed from Davenport to Bracken in 1883 because a Davenport post office had already been established in the state.

1000  Cross Cibolo Creek and enter BEXAR County.  Cibolo Creek is a 96-mile watercourse which flows into the San Antonio River.

         Bexar County was named after San Antonio de Béxar, one of the 23 Mexican municipalities of Texas at the time of its independence. San Antonio de Béxar, originally Villa de San Fernando de Béxar was the first civil government established by the Spanish in the province of Texas.  The municipality was created in 1731 when 55 Canary Islanders settled near the system of missions that had been established around the source of the San Antonio River.  The county was created on December 20, 1836, and originally encompassed most of the western portion of the Republic of Texas.  The Bexar County seat and largest city is San Antonio.

1001.5 On the left (southbound) can be seen the Rolling Oaks Mall.  Pass beneath Highway 1604.

1002  Enter San Antonio metropolitan area.  Hills near the railroad are composed of Upper Cretaceous Pecan Gap Chalk.

1006  Pass through the suburban community of Wetmore, which was founded along the International Great Northern Railway in 1880.  It was named after Jacob S. Wetmore, a railroad director.

1007 Quarry on left (southbound) is excavated into the Pecan Gap Chalk.

1009-1010 On the right (southbound) is the San Antonio International Airport, founded in 1941 and located in what is generally known as the “Uptown” portion of San Antonio.  The airport contains 3 major runways, 2 terminal buildings, and hosts flights for 15 airlines, including 4 airlines which fly into Mexico.

1010.5 Pass beneath Interstate 410, which is a beltway around San Antonio.

1011-1012 U.S. 281 is now adjacent to the railroad on the right (southbound).

1012.5 Pass beneath U.S. 281.  On the left (southbound) is the Alamo Quarry Market and Quarry Golf Club, which have been built at the site of a former large Alamo Cement Company quarry in the Austin Chalk.  The Quarry Market consists of shopping and dining establishments.

         On the right (southbound) is the Olmos Basin Golf Course.

1013-1014 Pass through Olmos Park, which was developed in the 1920’s as an exclusive suburb of San Antonio.  The City of San Antonio completely surrounds Olmos Park, as well as Olmos Park Terrace on the west. In 1917, Camp John Wise, a U.S. Army balloonist training facility, was built here, but closed down in 1919 when its programs were transferred to Brooks Field.

1016  On the left (southbound) is San Pedro Park, within with the San Pedro Springs are located. The San Pedro Springs evolved in the Austin Chalk along a fault zone, and feed fresh water into San Pedro Creek, which flows south from the park into the San Antonio River.  The original site of San Antonio was near the San Pedro Springs, which were established as a public park in 1734, the oldest such public park in Texas.

1016.5 Pass beneath Interstate 10.

1018.5 Pass beneath Interstate 10 again, as we begin to loop around the southern part of downtown San Antonio and into the AMTRAK station.

1019  On the left (southbound) is the Blue Star Contemporary Arts Center.

1019.5 The track merging with this line on the right (southbound) is the Union Pacific mainline which brings the Sunset Ltd into San Antonio from Los Angeles, Tucson, and El Paso.

         Cross the San Antonio River immediately east of the railroad junction.

1020  Pass beneath Interstate 37.

1021.5 SAN ANTONIO station, 350 Hoefgen Street.  Elevation approximately 668 ft.  The Reunion Tower and downtown San Antonio are visible from the station on the west (left if southbound).

          The area around San Antonio was long inhabited by the Coahuiltec Indians, and would later become a transition zone for the Plains Indians, including the Comanche and Apache. Permanent European settlement began in 1718, when the Spaniards established the Mission of San António de Valero (more commonly known as the Alamo) and the Presidio (a fortified community) of San António de Béjar on opposite banks of the upper San Antonio River. The Mission of San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, now referred to as Mission San José, was established nearby in 1720.  By 1731, 3 other missions were operating in the valley south of Mission San José.  In the same year, a group of immigrants from the Canary Islands arrived, persuaded by the Spanish to move to the frontier, and they established a community named Villa de San Fernando. Later that community was consolidated with the Presidio, and, with the small settlement that had developed around the earliest mission, to form the community of San Antonio.

          San Antonio was incorporated as a city in 1809.  In 1813, during the Mexican War for Independence, the city was briefly freed from Spanish rule, but was quickly re-conquered by Royalist forces.  It remained the center of Spanish Texas until Mexican independence in 1821, then was the center of Mexican Texas.  During the Texas Revolution, Texas troops captured the town in December, 1835, but General Antonio López de Santa Anna recaptured the City with the fall of the Alamo on March 6, 1836.  Reclaimed at the end of the revolution, in April, 1836, San Antonio was chartered in 1837 as the seat of Bexar County.  Prior to the Texas Revolution, the first American to colonize the area was Moses Austin, a Missouri pioneer.  Moses’ son Stephen F. Austin, brought 300 American pioneers to the area in 1821. A mere 46 days after the fall of the Alamo, General Stephen F. Austin and his men, crying out the famous “Remember the Alamo!” oath, defeated Mexican General Santa Anna at the nearby Battle of San Jacinto, which lasted only 18 minutes, and gave birth then to the Republic of Texas.  the State entered the Union in 1845.  Since its founding, San Antonio has existed under 6 different flags – French, Spanish, Mexican, Republic of Texas, Confederate, and finally the American flag.

         San Antonio today is the 9th largest city in the Nation, and contains a mix of restored 18th Century buildings and modern skyscrapers, but still retains its “old Spanish” flavor.

               San Antonio was the birthplace of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, who were organized here in 1898 after the battleship Maine was blown up in Havana Harbor in Cuba.  San Antonio is the home of the Alamo, Reunion Tower, Hemisfair Plaza, San Antonio College, Trinity University, the University of Texas-San Antonio, and is also the home of the beautifully constructed River Walk downtown, which is located within a mile of the AMTRAK station.  The River Walk was once a collection of run-down houses, but thanks to urban renewal, it is now a pleasant walkway along the San Antonio River, with numerous shops, galleries, and restaurants.