Karnes County is located east of Atascosa County and well south of San Antonio. The county seat is Karnes City, about twenty-five miles south of Floresville. Highway 181 bisects Karnes County: both town and county are named after Henry Karnes, who was one of General Sam Houston’s most trusted officers, serving with Erastus “Deaf” Smith as a spy and scout during the Texas Revolution.
One of America's most magnificent showcase properties, the Southwind Ranch (formerly Veladi Ranch) is located between Kenedy and Karnes City. A 34-room, 4-story Antebellum-style mansion, completed in 1994 on 240 acres.
The Eagle Ford Shale is one of the most actively drilled targets for oil and gas in the United States. This shale is the source for oil and gas zones inside Karnes County and other South Texas counties.
Later, Henry Karnes served as a Texas Ranger – but he is not buried anywhere near the place named after him. The countryside is gentle and rolling – primarily agricultural: towns are small and scattered, connected mostly by two-lane country roads, and watered by small creeks. Many towns were founded as part of the post-Civil War cattle boom – some like Kenedy and Helena had violent and brawling reputations, back in their early days.
The San Antonio and Aransas Pass railway line, which came through in the mid-1880s raised up some towns – like Falls City, and served a death-knell to others. Small discoveries of oil deposits early in the 20th century helped larger communities like Falls City. Uranium was mined for approximately thirty years at Tordilla Hill, before mining and milling operations were shut down through concerns about contamination of water and soil.
A segment of the Texas Independence Trail runs through Karnes County; from Falls City, through the historic Polish enclave of Panna Maria (and it’s sister settlement of Cestohowa), the ghost town of Helena – which houses the Karnes County Museum complex, and Runge, before linking up to Goliad and Victoria.
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