On March 35, 1843 James Decatur Cocke, William Mosby Eastland, Patrick Mahan, James M. Ogden, James N. Torrey, Martin Carroll Wing, John L. Cash, Robert Holmes Dunham, Edward E. Este, Robert Harris, Thomas L. Jones, Christopher Roberts, William N. Rowan, James L. Shepherd, J. N. M. Thomson, James Turnbull, and Henry Walling. These are the names of the 17 men who died after selecting a black bean from a jar after being captured by the Mexican army. The monument and final resting place is here at Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery.
Located in La Grange, Texas this historic site marks a bit of a cross roads for the legacy of Texas history. Mexicans, Tejanos, and German Immigrants all have a piece of their stories at this site.
Heinrich Kreische bought 172 of this land, including the tomb, and build a house and brewery. According to Wikipedia, the brewery became the third largest operation in Texas, and finally closed in 1884.
While this is a state historic site there is a trail system here. On it you can learn more about the history of this site and enjoy some of the unique plants that made their way here along the Colorado River.
There are five trails here: Brewery Lane Trail (.29 mi), Kreische Stairway Trail.11 mi), Kreische Woods Nature Loop (.33 mi), Scenic and Historic Trail (.48 mi) and the Schulendburg Ferry Trail (.49 mi).
If you’re just passing through and don’t have a lot of time on your hands I highly recommend the Scenic and Historic Trail. It is the only trail that is wheelchair accessible. You’re going to hit the majority of the points of interest here including two really neat overlooks. One looks out over the vast landscape and the other looks over the brewery. They have restricted some of the access as the building itself isn’t super safe, but you can get a good idea of it from the overlook.
The Kreische house isn’t accessible, but you can see the front and the back from the loop; you can see the smokehouse and the barn as well.
There are other trails that you can access through a gate, so note that you can go through them. Those include the Schulenburg and Brewery Lane trails. They are a little more rugged, so be prepared for terrain changes as you’re hiking. Last time I visited I got to see a swarm of daddy long-legs all huddled together in one large clump. Pretty freaky if you’ve never seen that before.
There is no camping offered at this Historic Site, but along highway 71 going west you’ll hit towns like Smithville and Bastrop which have some fun things to offer.
Overall this was a great pit stop coming back home from Houston. It has a lot of great history and the information kiosks offer a lot of additional perspective about the various things you’ll be looking at. I definitely recommend stopping by.
Something to note, as of September 1st, 2019 this site will be operated under the Texas Historic Commission and not Texas Parks & Wildlife. Admission is free, but last time I visited there was a donation box. If that’s still there, DONATE!