Praries & Lakes
Washington-On-The-Brazos State Historic Site
Washington-on-the-Brazos Texas History & Information:
The community of Washington was located one mile southwest of the junction of the Brazos and Navasota Rivers where the La Bahia Road crossed the Brazos River. It was a major political and commercial center prior to the Civil War (1861-1865). After the Civil War, the community was renamed Washington-on-the-Brazos. The major portion of the original townsite is located at the intersection of FM 912 and Park Road 12 within the current 293 acre State Historic Site.
In 1821, the Andrew Robinson family and other members of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred  settled near the future Washington townsite. In 1822, Robinson established a ferry at the Brazos River crossing. The settlement that grew up around the ferry was named La Bahia. In 1824, Robinson received a grant of a half league of land from the Mexican government. In 1831, he gave half of his land grant to his son-in-law, John W. Hall, who surveyed and platted the town of Washington on his acreage. The town was in an ideal location because it was situated on a bluff and was less prone to flooding than other areas along the river. Hall then purchased the remaining half of Robinson’s land grant. In 1935, Hall established the Washington Town Company to promote the sale of town lots. Washington attracted residents and business from nearby communities, and soon became a major area supply point. In December 1835, General Sam Houston moved his headquarters to Washington, making Washington the center for Texas army volunteers and army supplies. Washington businessmen gave Houston free use of a wooden structure to house the Convention of 1836. In March of 1836, convention delegates signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, wrote the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, and established the Ad Interim Government. To escape Antonio López de Santa Anna's army, the Texas government and the inhabitants of Washington evacuated the town. After the Texas victory at San Jacinto ended the war with Mexico, new businesses and residents moved to Washington which again became a major area supply center. The naming of Washington as the county seat of the newly formed Washington County established the town as a legal center.The Republic of Texas established the Washington post office in 1836. In 1837, a ball celebrating the one year anniversary of Texas’ independence was held in Washington. The Texas Congress incorporated Washington in June, 1837. The construction of a race track, and drinking and gambling establishments led to lawlessness. Between 1838 and 1840, religious clergy mounted a campaign to clean up the town. An 1840 revival led by R.E.B. Baylor and Reverend William Tryon was successful in ending the lawlessness. In 1842, Washington became the capital of Texas, and remained so through Houston’s second term and through Anson Jones’ administration. In 1845, the Texas congress approved the annexation of Texas by the United States. When Austin became the capital of the State of Texas in 1845, Washington lost its political significance. Between 1849 and 1858, the town grew after it established steamboat service between Washington and Velasco. Washington began to decline after it refused to pay the Houston and Texas Central Railway a large bonus for completing a line to the town, and the railroad built a line to Hempstead instead. Other rail lines were built to Navasota and Brenham. These railroads caused the steamboat operations to shut down, dooming Washington as a river port. By 1889, most of the townsite had become cultivated fields; only one church was still in existence. The last of the remaining historic buildings burned in 1912. By 2000, the town reported a post office, two churches, a volunteer fire department and 265 residents.
In 1915, the Texas legislature appropriated funds to establish the 293 acre Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site which included the former Washington townsite. The Star of the Republic Museum was built in 1970, and is administered by Blinn College. The Barrington Living History Farm preserves the former home of Anson Jones. Other attractions include Independence Hall. This historic site is maintained by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Park access is free. Spring is a wonderful time to visit because of the flowering bluebonnets and other wildflowers. Texas Outdoor Family Camping Workshops are sometimes held at the park. For more information read the July-August 2008 Feature Park of the Month Articleand Park Brochure, and watch the Park Video.  From Brenham, take U.S. Business Route 290 to SH 105 East. Drive 14 miles to FM 912. Go right on FM 912, and proceed to the park entrance.   
Brazos River:  
The Brazos River rises at the confluence of its Salt Fork and Double Mountain Fork near the eastern boundary of Stonewall County in the Texas Panhandle Plains Region. It flows 840 miles across Texas to its mouth on the Gulf of Mexico, two miles south of Freeport in Brazoria County. The two forks rise 150 miles above the confluence, thus forming a continuous 1,050 mile long watershed, making it the longest river in Texas. The Brazos has seven principal tributaries, including the Salt and Double Mountain forks. The others are the Clear Fork, the Bosque and Little rivers, Yegua Creek, and the Navasota River which joins the Brazos River six miles southwest of Navasota in southwestern Grimes County. In addition, there are fifteen sub tributaries within the watershed, the most important being the Leon River, a tributary of the Little River. Although the Brazos was well known to Spanish explorers and missionaries who described the Indians located along its banks, the first permanent settlements on the river were made by Anglo-Americans. John McFarland, one of the Old Three Hundred, founded San Felipe de Austin at the Atascosito Crossing of the Brazos. The town became the colonial capital of Texas. Velasco, the site of the first colonial resistance to Mexican authority, is located on the River as are Columbia and Washington-on-the-Brazos, two of the first seats of government of the Republic of Texas. Originally, the Brazos was navigable for 250 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the town of Washington. It was an important waterway before the Civil War, and efforts to improve it for navigation continued until the early twentieth century. Important cities in the Brazos watershed are Lubbock, Graham, Waco, Temple, Belton, Freeport and Galveston. Houston abuts the region along the Fort Bend and Brazoria County lines. The most important lakes on the Brazos River are Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Whitney.  Fish Stocking History
Washington-On-The-Brazos State Historic Site Directions & Map:
From Brenham, take U.S. Business Route 290 to SH 105 East; drive 14 miles to FM 912. Go right on FM 912, and proceed to the park entrance.
From Hempstead, take SH 6 North to Navasota; take SH 105 West 7 miles to FM 1155; Turn left on FM 1155 and drive to the park entrance.