What is the Texas Brazos Trail (TBT)?
What kind of trail is it?
Where are you located?
What do you do?
What is your Mission/Vision?
What is the history of the area?
What are you known for?
Why are you called the “Brazos Trail” and why do you have a cotton bud for a logo?
The Texas Brazos Trail Region is an 18-county area of central Texas. It is part of the 10-region Heritage Trails Program of the Texas Historical Commission. The Texas Brazos Trail seeks to promote heritage tourism, historic preservation, and economic development.
We’re not hiking or biking or horseback riding – in fact the term “trail” is a bit misleading. Although, a driving trail is marked out on the map, visitors are encouraged to travel the entire region experiencing the charm and heritage of this mainly rural area of the state. Visitors to the region can explore state parks, visit a presidential library, sample some of Texas' best BBQ, or enjoy one of the many local festivals and events. The region is filled with historic towns, unique downtown shops, museums, beautifully preserved homes, and more.
For more information, read about the history of the Texas Heritage Trails Program.
We cover 18 counties in central Texas and roughly cover the area between Round Rock, Waco and College Station. We’re actually in a fantastic location right in the middle of the state – only a short drive away from all the major Texas cities! Our office is located in the beautiful Dr Pepper Museum in downtown Waco.
Our main goal is just to tell everyone how wonderful central Texas is. We want people to come and visit, to learn about our wonderful state, to enjoy their time here and make wonderful memories. We want to tell the real stories of the people and places of Texas. We do that by attending trade shows, creating brochures, using social media and more.
Mission Statement: To promote awareness and encourage preservation of the rich heritage and agricultural traditions in the 18-county Texas Brazos Trail Region.
Vision Statement: The Brazos Trail Region will increase the economic base of its 18 counties through regional partnerships, heritage tourism, and preservation.
History is determined not just by generals and frontier fighters,but by ordinary people living in little-known places. The Texas Brazos Trail Region is filled with legends of proud Native Americans who once roamed this land and courageous Spanish explorers who blazed the way for future settlers. Other stories feature determined men and women driving cattle north along the Chisholm Trail, cotton farmers struggling to get out of debt and townspeople with big dreams that rose and fell with the fortunes of the railroad.
This part of Texas is quietly appealing, a patchwork of farm and town built on a comfortable, human scale. As you drive through the region, you’ll see miles of black-earth fields and green pastures bordered by creeks and wooded breaks. You’ll cross the Brazos River and its major tributaries — the Bosque River, the Little River, Yegua Creek and the Navasota River. The dark, rich soil of the Blackland Prairie proved ideal for growing cotton. Like the black gold — oil –– that would be discovered later, it attracted a rush of immigrants eager to make a living. Anglo and African American Southerners — and in lesser numbers Germans, Czechs, Norwegians and Swedes — settled here, bringing with them their distinctive cultures that continue to shape the region.
After the Civil War, these immigrants transformed the Blackland Prairie into one of the most productive cotton-growing regions in the nation. Most were tenant farmers or sharecroppers who traded their labor — and in the case of tenant farmers, their tools, mules and seed — for a portion of the crop. While cotton was relatively easy to grow in the Brazos region, transporting it proved a challenge. In the early days, farmers hauled their crop to nearby gins and the cotton eventually made its way to Texas Coastal towns for shipment to eastern U.S. markets. Before the advent of river steamers and railroads, cotton buyers employed teamsters to make the overland trek, traversing the Brazos River at ferry crossings. Historical markers throughout the region mark the location of some of these early ferry crossings. By 1830, steamships started traveling the Brazos to ports farther south, making cotton transport easier, but the river was prone to flooding, and sandbars and snags made navigation difficult. The arrival of the railroad removed those obstacles.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the railroad reshaped the area. Towns like Temple were built by the railroad. Others picked up and moved to be near it. The railroad transformed towns such as Waco and Bryan into booming commercial centers based largely on the shipment of cotton. You’ll see that cotton wealth displayed in beautiful antebellum Greek Revival homes in Waco and the stunning commercial buildings of downtown Bryan.
Today, towns appear like scenes from a child’s model railroad — a church, a passenger depot and a few shade trees. Visit these communities for a rare insight into a different time. Museums, historic sites, courthouse squares, old theaters and heritage festivals are among the exciting attractions awaiting visitors to the Texas Brazos Trail Region.
- Fantastic BBQ in towns like Elgin, Taylor, Giddings and more
- Beautifully restored courthouses in Anderson, Meridian, Giddings, Georgetown, Waco, Cameron, Gatesville just to name a few
- The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum – which regardless of your political leanings is a world class history museum
- The railroad – we have many beautifully restored depots in cities such as Hearne, Temple and Rockdale and several Railroad Museums such as the Sante Fe Depot in Temple and the Burlington-Rock Island Museum in Teague. There are also smaller exhibits that cover railroad history in many towns such as Elgin and West.
- Military History – The Brazos Trail is home to Fort Hood – the largest military base in the US. The base allows visitors and has several beautiful memorials, a museum and miles and miles of military equipment to see. We also have a replica of a WWII POW camp in Hearne, many military artifacts at the George Bush Library, and even some Civil War history at the Confederate Reunion Grounds (they have a real cannon!).
The Brazos is one of the major rivers in Texas, and it runs right through the Texas Brazos Trail Region. It’s a big reason why people began settling in the area and why the region prospered. We have a cotton bud for a logo because the soil in central Texas was perfect for growing cotton.