The Old Spanish Trail once ran from St. Augustine, Florida, to San Diego, California. It was created to be the shortest route between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and the southernmost transcontinental highway. It took fifteen years to complete, as work was often hampered by difficult geographic conditions such as rivers and swamplands, but it finally opened for travel in 1929. Today, Interstate 10 largely follows the old OST, although it begins in Santa Monica, CA, and ends in Atlantic Beach, FL.
One third of the Old Spanish Trail runs through Texas – from swamps by the Sabine River in East Texas to deserts west of El Paso. Some of the best preserved parts of the OST are found in Central Texas and the Texas Hill Country. A great way to craft an itinerary is to travel sections of the Old Spanish Trail, staying in comfortable Texas Bed and Breakfasts along the way.
Drive west from Columbus, TX, along a charming stretch of the OST; a two-lane highway passes through a rolling landscape of ranches and live-oaks. Visit the historic towns of Waelder, Flatonia, Schulenburg, and Weimer, which were settled by Germans and Czechs in the 19th century and remain strongly tied to these cultures today. It’s a good idea to allow time to visit four local, historic Czech churches, and to look for evidence of the former OST in the shape of underpasses and bridges.
The Old Spanish Trail once passed near Comfort, in the Hill Country. Today that stretch of the road is mostly gone, but it’s still worth a traveler’s while to stay at a Comfort Texas Bed and Breakfast while exploring this lovely old German town on the Guadalupe River. Take a day trip to Bandera, just thirty miles south of Comfort, and have lunch at the OST Diner, which catered to travelers of the OST in its prime. Try to sit at the bar – the stool seats are saddles. Yes, saddles.