A treasure hunt looking for El Camino Real

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Let’s go on a treasure hunt. There won’t be a prize but your knowledge of the Old San Antonio Road, alias Kings Highway, alias El Camino Real de los Tejas will be greatly increased.

So you always thought that the Camino Real was one road? Wrong. Researchers reveal that what we call the Camino Real was really a corridor of several roads. Even Comal County includes two main roads and several small ones.

We cannot drive the two roads. We could follow them “as the crow flies”, but we’re not crows and we can’t fly. So we will drive the roads that are as close to the original as is possible.

Study of the Old San Antonio Road has come under the scrutiny of the Comal County Historical Commission. Their study is for the purpose of putting the Old San Antonio Road in Comal County on the National Historic Trail System. They will be identifying historic landmarks along the way.

Originally large portions of the roads were based on American Indian trails. The roads were developed as routes by Spanish missionaries attempting to Christianize these Native Americans as they connected the missions, presidios and other governmental centers. Much of what we know comes from travel logs from early explorers. As long ago as 1691 Fray Massenet estimated that 3,000 Jumano Indians were camped at the Comal Springs. (Source: Texas Almanac) The roads were an important transportation corridor for military activity during the Texas Revolution and the war between Mexico and the United States.

In 1918 the Daughters of the American Revolution took on the task of placing pink granite historical markers every five miles all the way from the Sabine to the Rio Grande Rivers with five markers in Comal County along the Kings Highway or Old San Antonio Road or El Camino Real (as the markers indicate).

Let’s start our treasure hunt looking for markers from one end of Comal County to the other. Begin on the Old Bastrop Road at the Comal County Line just north of York Creek. There is the first marker on the side of the road. The next one is off of the IH-35southbound access road just before the Kohlenberg Road exit. It had been moved to this location in recent years probably because of highway construction.

The route probably continued down Post Road and at some point crossed the Guadalupe River near where Broadway meets the river and picked up across the river at Nacogdoches St.  (You will of course have to cross the bridge) From this crossing, follow Nacogdoches and where it intersects S. Seguin we find the third marker.

In 1845 the German emigrants followed the Guadalupe River (not the Camino Real) from the coast; however, as they got to the river crossing, they were temporarily on the Camino Real when they crossed over to Nacogdoches St.

Our quest leads us to continue down Nacogdoches St. to Elliott Knox Blvd., then to Solms Road and right on FM 482 to find the fourth marker. Continue just past the railroad tracks at the Servtex plant, and you will find the fifth marker on the right. Proceed down Nacogdoches to Cibolo Creek and this is the Comal County line.

Now for the second route (wings needed, no markers). From San Marcos possibly along Hunter Road, cross the Guadalupe somewhere near Gruene and follow the Balcones Escarpment through Landa Park. Head south along the Escarpment towards San Antonio. No doubt, the Comal Springs will be one of the areas of historic significance along this trail. There is much evidence that American Indians used the area as a trading spot.

The two routes possibly merged before they got to Cibolo Creek. Now your treasure hunt is over. Good luck. If you want the GPS coordinates and sites along the way, check the Sophienburg.com Web site.

Everett Fey, archivist for St. Peter and Paul Church, examines arrowheads and spear points at the Sophienburg. He stands in front of the photograph of the Comal Springs that states: “Trading base for Native American tribes. Stopping place for Spanish explorers and travelers on the El Camino Real.”

Everett Fey, archivist for St. Peter and Paul Church, examines arrowheads and spear points at the Sophienburg. He stands in front of the photograph of the Comal Springs that states: “Trading base for Native American tribes. Stopping place for Spanish explorers and travelers on the El Camino Real.”

Points along the Camino Real or Old San Antonio Highway or King’s Highway:

  • Camino Real marker #76 on Old Bastrop Road just north of York Creek (GPS 29°47.66  -98°00.83) Google Map
  • Camino Real marker #77on southbound access road IH-35 just prior to Kohlenberg Exit (GPS 29°45.59 -98°02.95) Google Map
  • Guadalupe River Crossing at intersection of Rusk and Broadway (west of RR tracks) Google Map
  • Guadalupe River Crossing at Nacogdoches St. Google Map
  • The Guadalupe River Crossing can be viewed from the Faust Street Bridge Google Map
  • Camino Real marker #78 at corner of Nacogdoches St. and S. Seguin Ave.  (GPS 29°41.73  -98°06.82) Google Map
  • Camino Real marker #79 on FM Rd 482 just past Solms  (GPS 29°39.72  -98°11.16) Google Map
  • Camino Real marker #80 on Nacogdoches Road  just past railroad tracks at the Servtex plant  (GPS 29°38.30  -98°15.62) Google Map
  • Camino Real marker #81 on Nacogdoches Road  just past the Cibolo at the corner of Evans Rd (this is now in Bexar County)    (GPS 29°36.25  -98°19.699) Google Map

Points along the part of the Camino Real that traversed the Balcones Escarpment:

  • Comal Springs in Landa Park Google Map (collection of American Indian artifacts from Landa Park can be seen at the Sophienburg Museum at 401 W. Coll – Google Map)
  • Mission Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe historical marker at Gazebo Circle in Landa Park Google Map
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