Beyond its Czech past, La Grange also holds a rich German and Texan history.
To explore both, we drove 1 mile south of La Grange to Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Site.
From the La Grange town square we took State Highway 77 south across the Colorado River, then west 0.4 miles on Spur 92 to the park entrance.
The park sits on a high sandstone bluff above the Colorado River.
The two sites are connected by a scenic nature trail with each telling their own unique story.
Our first stop was Monument Hill, where a tomb holds the remains of 52 Texas heroes who died in the Dawson Massacre of 1842 and the Texan Santa Fe and Mier expeditions.
Soldiers captured by Mexico during the failed Mier Expedition were forced to draw beans. A white bean meant life and a black bean meant execution, making one of the most dramatic stories in Texas history.
On September 18, 1848, the remains were retrieved from their original burial sites and were reinterred in a common tomb with a sandstone vault. Over 1,000 people were present for the ceremony including Sam Houston and other dignitaries.
The history provides an important continuum in the story of Texas Independence along with the Alamo, San Jacinto Monument, Washington on the Brazos, and other state sites.
A short hike from the tomb led us to the ruins of the Kreische Brewery where German immigrant Heinrich Ludwig Kreische founded one of the first commercial breweries in Texas.
The Kreische Brewery site consists of the Kreische house, outbuildings, which were built in 1855-1857, and the Kreische Brewery, built in the 1860s.
This site tells of the history of early immigrants to Texas in the period following Texas statehood. Kreische came to Texas in 1846 from Saxony, Germany, purchased 172 acres of land on the bluff in 1849, which included the tomb and began a successful career as a stonemason, brew master, and businessman.
His was a story of early Texas family life, blue-collar work ethic, enterprising spirit, and business acumen that tells of German immigration into Texas. He built a three-story house and, in 1860, began building a brewery.
By 1879, it was the third largest brewing operation in Texas, with its flagship product being Kreische’s Bluff Beer.
Kreische advertised his Kreische’s Bluff Beer with the slogan “Frisch Auf!” After he brewed a fresh batch, he would raise the “Frisch Auf!” banner and ferry townspeople from across the river in La Grange for a daylong party where families picnicked, danced, and held shooting competitions.
Partying aside, Kreische possessed the qualities that made German immigrants such successful homesteaders: He was hardworking, self-disciplined, and resourceful.
On a tour of the brewery ruins, we saw ample evidence of his ingenuity, including an aqueduct system he designed to channel water downhill from a spring to the brewing room.
After the brewery tour, we admired the beautiful three-story stone house that Kreische built for his family—at a time when most settlers were still living in log cabins.
Kreische maintained the tomb for the rest of his life, but the tomb and Kreische Brewery began to deteriorate after his death in 1882. Although the brewery closed in 1884 fell into ruins, his children occupied the house into the 1950s.
The park’s nature trail has a list of more common plant and animal species and is available at the park headquarters.
Currently no fees are charged at this day-use state park.
Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Site
Hours: 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. every day except Christmas
Location: 414 State Loop 92 off U.S. 77 (on the bluff)
Phone: (979) 968-5658
Please Note: This is Part 4 of a 7-Part series on La Grande, Texas
Part 1: Czeching Out La Grange
Texas Spoken Friendly
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