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Passing Through: History, Nature and Gothic Structures in San Augustine

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

San Augustine is in far east Texas, roughly a half-hour from the Louisiana border. It's a small town - the population in 2019 was 1,1889, a slight increase from 2018 according to the US Census bureau. But it is an important town in the story of Texas. In 1716, it became home to the first European settlement in the state, and as the region evolved into a republic, and then a state, San Augustine's role in Texas History did, too. San Augustine County is also part of the Texas Forest Trail's El Camino Real de los Tejas, "The Royal Highway" that ran from the Rio Grande to Louisiana. Mission Dolores, a State Historic Site and designated State Antiquities Landmark, is a beautiful park, campground and museum that tells the story of the region's Native American history and hosts community events - even a Ham radio club!

San Augustine is also home to one of the more interesting art pieces we have encountered. Local carpenter and artist Gary Brewer's ongoing work in progress is a massive wooden structure at the edge of downtown San Augustine. A mix of religious iconography, gothic architecture and creative ambition, it may be hard to understand, but it definitely makes you think and return for closer looks and new discoveries within the boards.

This is an undeniably beautiful part of the state. I appreciated that the town has held on to its historic charm and natural beauty.

Close up on an American flag in downtown San Augustine, Texas.
Downtown San Augustine, Texas.
A red building with vintage lettering "Hardware, General Merchandise"
Hardware on the Square, downtown San Augustine, Texas.
Vines and flowers over an enclosed walkway
An arbor at Mission Dolores State Historic Site, San Augustine, Texas
A multi-story architectural structure in San Augustine, East Texas
Artist Gary Brewer's Gothic Structure, San Augustine, Texas.
Historic buildings and a winding road.
Leaving downtown San Augustine, in East Texas.

Travel notes: We were there on a Saturday afternoon and just a few places were open in downtown San Augustine, although there was still plenty to see and learn about. We saw one restaurant being renovated, so perhaps that would be a future option.

Wear sturdy shoes if you are walking the paths at Mission Dolores. We went after a rain, and the mud was not kind to our footwear. The paths themselves seemed fine for most abilities, though.

As always, please check independently to learn business hours or other visitor's information. While most of our stops are outdoors and easy to access, things can change quickly, especially these days.

Local guides for more information:

Texas Forest Trail Region: Web site

Mission Dolores State Historic Site: Facebook, Instagram, Web site

Main Street San Augustine | Hardware on the Square: Facebook, Web site

Click here for an interactive map of small town East Texas travel stops, including the San Augustine points of interest mentioned in this post. Connect with us on Instagram and Facebook to learn more about San Augustine and future small town Texas road trips!


Should we visit your town and highlight some of its culture and special features? Drop us a line and share a bit about what makes it unique! We'd love to learn more.

Photos by James Khattak


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