Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gruene, TX - 12/20/12

Thursday – December 20,2012

Thursday – December 20,2012

Last night the cold weather from the winter storm Drago made its way down into the San Antonio, Texas area. Wind gusts up to 45 mph arrived after midnight and the temperature dipped down into the high 30’s. This weather pattern prevailed throughout the day with the temperature reaching the low-60’s. Finally, around 3:00 p.m. the winds subsided to 5 to 10 mph out of the north. The forecast for Friday is for the winds to shift from the north to the south at 5 to 10 mph with the temperature reaching the mid 60’s. By the weekend, the temperature is forecast to reach the mid to high 70’s. Not bad at all, considering the horrible weather the state of Wisconsin and the Chicago area are experiencing.

This afternoon we visited the historic district of Gruene in New Braunfels, Texas about a 22 mile drive from our campsite at Potters Creek Park in Canyon Lake, Texas. Gruene is home to many quaint antique shops and the home of the oldest dance hall in Texas.

Built in 1878 Gruene Hall, Gruene Hall, is the oldest continually running dance hall in Texas, and the Central Texas birthplace to many great songwriters and musicians. Including George Strait, Ace in the Hole, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Hal Ketchum, Bruce and Charlie Robison, and many more.

On a "Places of Interest" flyer we had received from the campground host, it stated that dining at the Grist Mill Restaurant, is a must. So we did! Sharon had the chicken fried chicken with a side of green beans and I had the chicken fried steak with a side of mashed potatoes. We finished half of our entrée’s; the other half we saved for lunch tomorrow. We topped our lunch off with a piece of pecan pie spiked with a splash of Jack Daniels bourbon accompanied with a scoop of ice cream. A very enjoyable lunch indeed, great food, great atmosphere.

Located in the historic district of Gruene just beneath the famous Gruene water tower, the Grist Mill opened in 1977. It is situated on a bluff overlooking the Guadalupe River, nestled under the shade of towering oak trees. The multi-level restaurant features outdoor and indoor dining with sweeping views of the Guadalupe river.

Gruene (pronounced green) is a former town in Comal County. Once a significant cotton-producing community along the Guadalupe River, the economy is now supported primarily by tourism. Gruene now lies entirely within the city limits of (and therefore is a district of) New Braunfels, and much of it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 21, 1975.

Gruene's history begins in 1872 when first generation German American farmer Heinrich (Henry) D. Gruene purchased 6,000 acres of farmland three miles north of New Braunfels along the Guadalupe River. He built his house and planted his surrounding land with cotton. In 1878, Gruene opened a mercantile store to serve the several dozen or so families sharecropping on his land. Originally known as "Goodwin", the town benefited by its location along the stagecoach route between Austin and San Antonio, the store thrived for many years and stimulated local commercial growth. Gruene Hall, which opened in 1878, is one of the oldest dance halls in Texas. The Thorn Hill School and three large cotton gins soon followed. By the time the International-Great Northern Railroad was built across Comal County in the 1880s, the small community was bustling with commercial and farming activity, and officially took the name "Gruene" after its founding father and most prominent citizen.

By 1900, Gruene was a prominent banking, ginning, and shipping center for area cotton farming. Though it never had a post office of its own, the community did possess two freight rail stations by the 1910s. Gruene was decimated, however, by the boll weevil blight of the 1920s, and further doomed by the effects of the Great Depression. By 1930, the population had fallen to 75, and post World War II highway construction bypassed the town. By 1950, Gruene had become a ghost town.

As a result of the restoration of area structures, such as the Gruene Hall and old mercantile store, Gruene began a rebirth of sorts in the early 1970s. Redevelopment and restoration of the area continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s and today, and though no longer an autonomous community (it was annexed by New Braunfels in 1979, Gruene maintains a thriving tourist business. Many original structures from the town's heyday still exist, including the Gruene Family Home, a Victorian-style edifice built in 1872 which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and today operates as the Gruene Mansion Inn. A historic water tower rises above Gruene Hall, and other buildings at the heart of the district have been renovated into shops and restaurants.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

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