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With a name like New Braunfels, it's a safe bet that Germans had a great deal of influence in this town. And in fact, they did. New Braunfels was the first of the Adelsverein-movement settlements in the 1840s to create secure land in Texas under the German flag. The town was founded by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, the Commissioner General of the Adelsverein. In 1845 Prince Carl led hundreds of sea-lagged German settlers from Galveston to a plot of land north of San Antonio on the banks of the Comal River. The settlement would later be named for his hometown in Germany, Braunfels (pronounced brawn-fells). The settlement endured a shaky beginning with the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846, wet seasons that produced great floods in the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, and an outbreak of cholera. But by 1850 the town was a thriving community boasting the title of the fourth largest city in Texas.
It lies along the Balcones Fault, where the Hill Country meets rolling prairie land to the east, putting New Braunfels barely inside the realms of the Hill Country region. The fault line produced a string of artesian springs known as Comal Springs that create the Comal River. Stretching a mere 3 mi before flowing into the Gaudalupe River, the Comal is considered the shortest river in the world.
Whereas many Hill Country towns are frequented for the shopping, wine, romantic getaways, or pure beautiful scenery, New Braunfels is considered more of an activity town. People come to tube down the Guadalupe River and splash around at Schlitterbahn WaterPark Resort, or to get a taste (literally) of the annual Wurstfest in late October and early November celebrating the town's German heritage.
New Braunfels at a Glance
Elsewhere in The Hill Country
- Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
- Horseshoe Bay
- Johnson City
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