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Then and Now: Texas State Highway 237

Jan 11, 2021 | Round Top FYI

There’s no denying the influence that Texas State Highway 237 has on our small corner of the world. It’s the main artery that runs through our town, connecting us to La Grange, Carmine and everywhere in between. It’s the through-line of the twice-annual Round Top Antiques Show. And as it turns out, it has a pretty interesting history. Take a drive into the past to learn the story of the highway, and what it means to us now.

Way Back When
Highway 237 was officially designated in 1936, but hundreds of years earlier, it began as an east-west Native American trail in southeastern Texas. Eventually, the western portion of the trail was laid out by the Spanish, where it became known as the La Bahía Road.

In 1686, the explorer Alonso De León was known to travel the road. The French explorer La Salle is believed to have met his end on the La Bahía Road in March of 1867 when he was murdered by his own men in a mutiny during an ill-fated journey from a French settlement on the Gulf Coast to the Mississippi River.

In the 1800s, the road was also known as the Opelousas Road, when it was used primarily as a cattle trail and by new settlers arriving in what would soon be Texas. After the fall of the Alamo in 1836, General Sam Houston ordered a retreat from the Mexican General Santa Anna and his troops. This sparked a panic now known as the Runaway Scrape, where people used the La Bahía Road to evacuate from the area and flee from the Mexican army. The Runaway Scrape, of course, ended after Sam Houston’s army brilliantly defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

Here and Now
Nowadays, things are a lot more peaceful on Texas State Highway 237. To the folks in Round Top, it’s our home; to the folks who are just passing through, it’s a place to escape.

They don’t call Round Top “Heaven Off 237” for no reason – the slower pace of small-town life combined with the natural beauty that surrounds the highway make it a perfect place to get away. And during the Antiques Shows, the road itself bursts with energy and excitement as people flock to it to browse antiques and vintage finds.

But we’ll never forget where we came from, and the ways that our town is rooted in Texas history. And when you visit us, why not stop for a minute and listen to the sounds of the wind through the fields and trees and feel the road beneath your feet – the same road the Native Americans, settlers and early Texans traveled all those years ago.

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