CASTROLVILLE


General.. the population is 2,037 and the Alt. is 760 Medina County


Named for Henri Castro, who brought a group of Alsatian settlers to the area in 1844, the village is quiet and picturesque. Alatians were French by nationality, German in their language and cultural traditions. Stop first at the Landmark Inn State Historic Structure, immediately south of the Trail highway (US 90) at the west end of the Medina River bridge. Restored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, this vintage inn dates from stagecoach days and includes ruins of an adjacent old mill. Guests are still accepted, but because of the limited number of rooms, lodging is virtually unavailable except by reservation. Park personnel can provide information about other sites of interest in the village, especially the charming St. Louis Catholic Church and the picturesque grounds of an adjoining convent.
The local cemetery (3) off the Trail highway at the west edge of town, is a treasury of European-style headstones and markers that date from the 1840s.
The Trail highway west of Castrolville climbs out of the Medina River Valley and crosses a gently rolling landscape of plains toed by rich, dark soils. Prominent hay fields are examples of he land’s potential, compared with brush “native” areas. But clearing to establish cultivation is formidable and expensive task. Here the Trail highway parallels Southern Pacific’s main cross-country line, the route of Amtrak’s Sunset Limited between New Orleans and Los Angeles. These first segments have sampled some typical aspects of broad coastal plains below the Edwards Plateau, but the lure of the hills invite a right-angle turn on Texas 173. Blue on the horizon ahead lies the Balcones Escarpment,(4) the scalloped edge of the mass that rose from prehistoric seas. On Texas 173 below the hills, geologists recognize dozens of fractures in the Balcones Fault Zone where the mass broke. Not to worry--the fault zone has been inactive for millions of years. The highway begins to roll. Blue hills draw closer, growing in majesty as they are approached. The first real one is sliced by a deep highway cut--a portal to a different kind of land. At the top of that first hill is a roadside picnic area offering a transition viewpoint: to the south, gently rolling plains; to the north, dramatic hills creasing the horizon. Exposed in this and many road cuts throughout the Hill Country are flint nodules that were formed in the limestone. It was a basic tool material of Indians who long inhabited the area. The drive to Bandera is a fitting introduction to the landscapes for which the Hill Country is famous--scenic vistas in a big-shouldered land, steep slopes green with live oaks and cedars (junipers). Trail drivers may see some big, strong Texas longhorns grazing in roadside pastures. Highway signs of guest ranches soon appear, because Bandera is Texas’ foremost dude ranch center.