The oldest Anglo-American town in Texas
The small town of Columbus, 65 miles west of Houston, had its beginnings in a river crossing on the Colorado River when some of Steven Austin's band of settlers known as the Old Three Hundred took up land there in 1821. First named Beeson's Crossing but re-christened Columbus in 1835, the town was laid out as early as 1823, making it the first non-Mexican town in Texas but a more congenial (and safer from Indian attacks) location to the north saw Austin go on to become the state capital, leaving Columbus to become a quiet little backwater (still the biggest town and the county seat of Colorado County), though one that certainly had its moments of high drama and mayhem in the best tradition of the Wild West - the bullet holes in walls of the old saloon (now Frank's Pizzeria) on Milam Street attest to that!
A more refined legacy of those early days is a fine collection of historic old houses and civic buildings that are a source of pride and a well-developed tourist initiative. Throughout the year on the first and third Thursdays of each month, the Magnolia Home Tour takes place, conducting visitors around the town. There's a lot to see - not only does Columbus have several fine house museums as well as its Confederate Memorial Museum which is housed in the old Water Tower (1883), there's even an Opera House! Altogether there are some 80 historic buildings in the town.
If you can't make the tour, historical markers, interpretive signs and an audio driving tour accessible through your car radio tell the town's story.