Aerial View Of Brewery
From an overlook above, you can see the ruins of the old stone brewery.
My traveling companion, Loyd Bouton, and I decided to take a drive Saturday afternoon, May 20, 2017.
This was supposed to be a quick trip to the store and maybe some back roads driving, but soon became an all-day adventure. We found our way to Monument Hill State Park in La Grange.
Most of us, who have grown up in Texas, have heard about the Black Bean Death Lottery and why it took place. I can remember hearing about it in Texas History class when I was young.
For those who do not know, back in 1842, Texans set out to avenge the brutal Dawson Massacre.
Over 300 soldiers ignored official orders, marched south down the Rio Grande and attacked the border town of Ciudad Mier.
In spite of many Mexican casualties, 250 Texans were captured and marched toward Mexico City. Within six weeks of their captivity 181 escaped, but harsh desert conditions forced 176 of them to surrender within days.
Santa Anna ordered the execution of these escapees, but diplomatic efforts from the United States and Great Britain led to the Mexican government's compromise that came to be known as the Black Bean Death
Bench Overlook View
At the beginning of the trail there is an overlook and a bench. Here you can see the Colorado River and the two bridges in downtown La Grange.
The captured escapees drew beans from a pot containing 159 white beans and 17 black beans. Those who drew black beans were executed.
Now, this history lesson is not without purpose.
Saturday, Loyd and I visited Monument Hill in La Grange.
This is hallowed ground, and the final resting place for the 17 Black Bean executed prisoners, as well as, those who perished in the Dawson Massacre.
The tomb, containing the exhumed bones of these Texas heroes, sits on a high bluff overlooking La Grange. The view from the bluff is amazing with the waters of the Colorado River meandering by and the souls of those heroes watching over us, I could spend days there just soaking it all in.
A 48-foot shellcrete monument was erected by the Texas Centennial Commission. I was dedicated in 1936, the centennial of Texas independence.
This place of honor for these fallen men is not all that can be found at Monument Hill State Park.
The Kreische Brewery also sits on this property.
A young German stonemason, Heinrich Kreische, immigrated to Texas in 1846 and settled near La Grange the following year. His masonry
From below, the back of the brewery ruins can be seen.
skills established him as a builder in the community.
In the 1860s, Kreische used his talent to construct a large stone brewery to satisfy a local demand for beer, and by 1870 he identified himself as a brewer.
For the rest of his life, Kreische maintained the Dawson/Mier tomb that became known as Monument Hill. He honored the sacrifices of those who came before him, knowing they helped to make his success possible.
The home of Heinrich Kreische and the ruins of the brewery can be seen on the one and one half mile hike from the bluff to the brewery and back.
The home still stands and is truly beautiful and you can see the artistry that only a stonemason in that time could accomplish. The three-story Kreische house commemorates both the growth of the Kreische business and family. It remains a lasting example of the prosperity enjoyed by many immigrants in Texas.
Behind the home ran spring-water down from the ravine and settled in two stone tanks. A steel pipe led clean water for brewing, and the excess flowed through stone lined channels into the cistern where it could be used for other
This is a full view of the back of the brewery ruins.
By the middle of the Civil War, Kreische's Bluff Beer was being produced on a commercial scale. The ingenious water system aided by gravity transferred ingredients through a nine step brewing process. By 1879, Kreische Brewery was the third largest brewing operation in the state.
Kreische died after he fell from his wagon in 1882 and modernization of the brewing industry and his death spelled the doom of the brewery by 1884.
It is quite amazing that I was born and raised in Texas and didn't even know this place existed. Also, I only live about a 25-minute drive from this park.
I would encourage anyone who loves history and a little hiking to take the time to see this historical venue.
The trails are well marked, but as the hike down is not so bad, going back up really requires the right shoes and possibly a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated.
There are several overlooks with placards to let you know about the area and what you are seeing. There are also many places to sit and relax under the trees and take in the beauty of your surroundings.
Stairs leading to the brewery are still intact.
For a spur-of-the-moment road trip, it was a wonderful day in nature and an even better day to take in some of the rich culture and history of Texas.
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