El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association (ELCAT)
Reports — ElCaT, NPS, & Texas Historical Commission collaborated to put out the first-ever Joint Trail Report for the Camino.
Panels — The NPS contracted with The 106 Group to create interpretive panels for sites in Texas and Louisiana, including the Arroyo San Francisco Overlook at the Rio Grande, the Floresville Hike and Bike Trail, Apache Pass, Mission Dolores State Historic Site, and Los Adaes State Historic Site.
Community — ElCaT’s Model Trail Communities (MTCs) hosted tables at the Floresville Community Market, created local trail maps, developed an “Adopt-A-Sign” program for trail signage, and created interpretive panels in multiple areas.
Signage — In the Floresville area, MTC volunteers partnered with the NPS, San Antonio River Authority, and the Wilson County Historical Commission to begin work to sign and interpret pedestrian hiking paths in Helton – SA River Park.
Site Protection —
In Travis County, ElCaT volunteers and staff worked on multiple projects: The Estancia – Old San Antonio Road development project allowed volunteers to work with Stratford Land Development, the City of Austin – Parks and Recreation Department (PARD), and the Travis County Historical Commission to protect and develop trail resources in the area, including parkland to be turned over to the City that contains archaeologically-looted Native American sites related to the trail.
ElCaT was also approved by PARD to conduct a Community Activated Parks Proposal in order to conduct historic and archaeological research in Onion Creek Metro Park. The findings could lead to an additional route of the trail being established in Travis County and multiple miles of pedestrian trail experience in the area.
Land — In the Milam County area, MTC volunteers and elected officials began discussions with landowners about obtaining a conservation easement or purchasing Sugarloaf Mountain.
Design — ElCaT volunteers worked with a developer and partners in Austin, Texas towards the creation of a conceptual design to include pedestrian and automobile experiences for trail users.
Expansion — ElCaT’s MTC chapters greatly increased the capacity of the organization in 2020.
In Milam County, MTC membership has increased steadily and allowed for a variety of efforts including things such as cataloging native plants with traditional uses in the area, which Indigenous peoples and others along the trail would have used as foodstuffs, and volunteers created a pamphlet describing the uses of the plants and where they can be found along the trail.
Wilson County MTC volunteers have engaged local elected representatives and gotten a Trail Committee established by the City of Floresville to address citizen-initiated developments on the hike and bike trail.
Training — ElCaT interns underwent training in graphic design so that logos for MTC chapters, brochures, and reports could be designed for public outreach and distribution.
In March 2020, Aaron Mahr met with the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) leadership in Mexico City to discuss trail initiatives, including the proposed Dos Caminos trails interpretive workshop, tentatively scheduled for fall 2021; ; and the next Dos Caminos Datasharing virtual meeting scheduled for December 2020. In preparation for the meeting, NTIR prepared and sent INAH a document with the public data for El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail (ELTE) and is exploring platform options for sharing both public and internal data for the trails across international, federal, state, and local agencies.
“Researching Indigenous Communities along El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail in Central and Southwest Texas,” a project funded by NPS’s Southwest Border Resource Protection Program (SWBRPP) and NTIR, is ongoing. Dr. Armando Alonzo, historian, Texas A&M-College Station, has completed several research trips to repositories in Austin and San Antonio, and in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, where he also met with INAH researcher Dr. Moisés Valadez Moreno, who shared some studies relevant to the project. Dr. Alonzo has submitted a working bibliography and two draft maps indicating the geographic location of the various indigenous groups in the region from immediately below the Rio Grande and into central Texas. The planned project ending date is December 2021. In keeping with trail’s enabling legislation, the final narrative will be shared with trail partners in the US and Mexico to support current and future trail initiates.