History

Come One Comal: The Littlest River That Could Attracted German Settlers to the Texas Hill Country

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In order for German settlement to effectively and efficiently occur for Texas as their noblemen had thought to be most appropriate, there were two requirements that needed to be met. One was a suitable piece of land for settlement to take place, and the other a port through which to properly receive new arrivals. The port had been purchased at Lavaca Bay. The land base still being in order, Las Fontanas was of integral focus. This was the name given to the headwaters of the river at which the Veramendi family of San Antonio had sold a tract of land to Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, Germany.

Come One Comal: The Littlest River That Could, Attracted German Settlers to the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Flickr/Jeff Gunn

When he landed on the coast of Texas in 1844, Prince Carl formed an order called the Adelsverein (“society of nobles” in German). The organization was developed to market and expedite German immigration to the territory. Based on the immediate needs of the time (being that available land had to be within good range of the coast, fit for farming, and not prone to attacks by Native Americans), the prince purchased 1,265 acres of land from the Veramendis, including these valuable headwaters of what would eventually become known as the Comal River (also formerly the Little Guadalupe River).

Come One Comal: The Littlest River That Could, Attracted German Settlers to the Texas Hill Country
Photo: Flickr/Jeff Gunn

Los Fontanas, or “the fountains,” were later named Comal Springs and formed the beginnings of the 2.5-mile Comal River, which was surveyed and mapped, and eventually deemed the shortest river in Texas, not to mention the entire nation. Having successfully secured the property of his dreams, on Good Friday of 1845, the first German immigrants came to settle the beautiful Texas Hill Country area which Prince Carl had renamed New Braunfels, in order to commemorate his estate in Germany. Today, the majority of the property along the banks of the Comal River has been turned into parkland and green space where residents annually celebrate Wurstfest, and Schlitterbahn has taken up residence as the largest water park in Texas! It’s quite the transformation from its initial days as Los Fontanas, yet a key component to the settlement of Texas as we now know it.

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