Medina County is located to the west of San Antonio and Bexar County, and is named for the Medina River, which runs through it. In 1911-12, the river was dammed by an enterprise called the Medina Irrigation Company to provide irrigation to farmland in the vicinity of Castroville.
The county seat is Hondo, whose Lion’s club gained some fame in the 1930’s by posting a sign at the edge of town saying “This Is God’s Country – Please Don’t Drive Through It Like Hell.” During WWII, at nearby Hondo Army Airfield 14,000 navigators trained for aircrew service.
Medina Lake was designed, engineered and built by Frederick Stark Pearson. At the time of construction, the Medina Dam was the largest hydraulic engineering project west of the Mississippi, and it is presently on the National Register of Historic places. The camp housing the workers who built it later became the town of Mico.
The Medina Lake and BMA Canal System is an extensive irrigation canal that delivers water to the blackland prairie farmlands below the Balcones escarpment around Castroville, Lytle and Natalia.
The original county seat of Castroville was established in 1844 by entrepreneur Henri de Castro, who brought over and settled Alsatian and German immigrants to settle his land grant. Many of the oldest homes and farms were built following European traditions, and use of the Alsatian dialect was preserved well into the 20th century. A short distance from San Antonio, Castroville is a popular tourist draw for it’s many charming historical homes, shops and restaurants and the St. Louis Catholic Church, built by the original settlers – the first church in what would become Medina County.
Other notable towns in Medina include Devine, LaCoste, and Natalia – which was named for the daughter of Frederick Pearson, who had designed the Medina Dam. D’Hanis, which was also founded by Henri de Castro, is known for the red bricks produced by D’Hanis Brick and Tile, from clay found locally.
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