History

Hondo: ‘This Is God’s Country. Please Don’t Drive Through It Like Hell’

By  | 

We hate spam too, we'll never share your email address

 

 

Situated in an area that was “discovered” in 1689 when Spanish explorer Alonso De Leon passed through, Hondo takes its name from Hondo Creek, after the Spaniard named the Medina River and the Seco (meaning “dry”) and Hondo (meaning “deep”) Creeks en route to East Texas. And although history tells it that hundreds of people passed through the Hondo area in expeditions through the Hill Country, circumventing Comanche and Apache bastions, it was ultimately the construction of the railroad in 1881 that truly brought “Hondo City” about.

Hondo: ‘This is God’s Country. Don’t Drive Through it Like Hell…Please’

Photo: Wikimedia

After reaching what they deemed a promising location 41 miles west of San Antonio, the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railroad determined to plot a town and began the process of selling lots. Shortly thereafter, a post office was established, and in 1884 there were 25 residents, but the floodgates for settlement finally opened in 1891, and Hondo’s growth rocketed. With just 200 people in 1892, voters of Medina County selected Hondo as the new county seat, and a courthouse and county jail were completed by 1893. By 1895, the town name was shortened to Hondo though its extremities were still expanding, becoming the major economic center for much of Medina County. Hondo’s downtown business district grew to accommodate the commerce and became occupied by a number of two-story buildings, and by 1915, its population grew to 2,500.

Hondo: ‘This is God’s Country. Don’t Drive Through it Like Hell…Please’

Photo: Wikimedia

In 1913, a dam was constructed across the Medina River, forming a lake north of Hondo, and with the increased use of automobiles, construction of Highway 3 began, coming from Del Rio to San Antonio and on to Houston. Completion of the highway finally happened in 1922, bringing with it the continued opportunity for growth and prosperity. Ironically, in 1930, the Hondo Lions Club erected a sign near its city limits which said, “This Is God’s Country. Please Don’t Drive Through It Like Hell,” later adding the word “please” out of respect for those who thought it impolite, and the sign became a renowned Hondo landmark.

Hondo: ‘This is God’s Country. Don’t Drive Through it Like Hell…Please’

Photo: Wikimedia

Surviving the depression, Hondo began to boom once more when World War II began and was incorporated as a city in 1942. The Hondo Army Airfield was built the same year, employing 3,000 people during construction, and having over 5,300 military personnel stationed there by the close of the year. By 1946, over 14,000 navigators were trained there and, following that, the airfield reverted to city ownership, becoming the Hondo Municipal Airport. Continuing to grow over the next few decades, the city remained the commercial center for the western half of the county, with agriculture, tourism, ranching, and light industry being its key economic bases.

Hondo: ‘This is God’s Country. Don’t Drive Through it Like Hell…Please’

Photo: Flickr/Josh Hallet

Having a unique location in the Texas Hill County, one of the major pastimes in Hondo is taking advantage of the great outdoors, hunting in the surrounding countryside, fishing, and generally enjoying everything that nature has to offer. Locals and visitors alike enjoy nearby Medina Lake, offering abundant recreational opportunities as well as camping. In the city itself, there’s a public swimming pool, a golf course, and for history buffs like yourself, there’s the Medina County Museum, offering an extensive view into Hondo’s past. And one attraction that Hondo is well-recognized for is the “South Texas Maize,” a unique corn labyrinth which is open every fall on and can be found on Highway 90, just east of the city. For details on this and other great community events, visit the Hondo Chamber of Commerce online, and make a plan to visit the Texas Hill Country.