Training Hike #2 – Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites

TiAna and I are starting small. We have 8 months left to get ready, so we have decided… well, the Texas heat has decided… that we are starting small.

So today, she and I.. and her little sister.. headed out to Monument Hill.

Its a delightful little park on the edge of the Hill Country in La Grange, Texas. If my math is correct, it is just about 40 acres on the top of a bluff overlooking a river.

What make is special is the Monument, and the Brewery.

The Monument is a gravesite of 17 brave Texans killed as an “example” after a large group of them escaped being held as prisoners-of-war by Santa Ana after the war for Texas Independence. The Monument sits at the top of the bluff and is gorgeous, if a little morbid.

Excerpt from Wikipedia article:

“The Mexicans took 243 Texans as prisoner and marched them toward Mexico City via MatamorosTamaulipas, and MonterreyNuevo León.

On February 11, 1843, 181 Texans escaped but, by the end of the month, the lack of food and water in the mountainous Mexican desert resulted in 176 of them surrendering or being recaptured. This was in the vicinity of Salado, Tamaulipas.

When the prisoners reached SaltilloCoahuila, they learned that an outraged Santa Anna had ordered all the escapees to be executed, but General and Governor Francisco Mexía of the state of Coahuila refused to follow the order.[2] The new commander, Colonel Domingo Huerta, moved the prisoners to El Rancho Salado. By this time, diplomatic efforts on behalf of Texas by the foreign ministers of the United States and Great Britain led Santa Anna to compromise: he said one in ten of the prisoners would be killed.

Black Bean Episode

To help determine who would die, Huerta had 159 white beans and 17 black beans placed in a pot. In what came to be known as the Black Bean Episode or the Bean Lottery, the Texans were blindfolded and ordered to draw beans. Officers and enlisted men, in alphabetical order, were ordered to draw. The seventeen men who drew black beans were allowed to write letters home before being executed by firing squad. “

The citizens of Fayette county had those men, and the 39 men of the Dawson massacre brought home to Texas and interred in a common tomb.

The other really neat thing at this park is the brewery. Today, all that remains of the brewery are ruins. Built in 1860 by Hein­rich Krei­sche , the brewery was one of the first commercial beer enterprises in the state, and became the third largest around 1879.

The trail we selected today skirts around the entire park, including some fairly steep switchbacks going up the slope. We only hiked a little under two miles today, but with the heat and the humidity, that was plenty!

We plan to slowly build up our hiking to at least 8 miles at a time before we head out to the trail. We hope to be at 5 miles before we go to the Appalachian Trail Institute in July. *fingers crossed*

We spent a great deal of our time today telling ourselves that Georgia in March would be easier on the lungs than Texas in June. hahaha… we’ll see.

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