Independence Trail Region


The Texas Independence Trail city of Victoria is no stranger to conflict. In 1685, French explorer La Salle established Fort St. Louis near what would one day become Victoria, only to be murdered by his own men before the Fort was abandoned. Spain was next in line, building its own presidio upon the Fort ruins, a counter attack in an ongoing conflict to control the New World. A battle between military might, religious conversion, and crown wealth continued to unfold across the territory for decades. This dramatic struggle between Spain and France, the two European titans of the era, can be explored today in the impressive collection of the Museum of the Coastal Bend on the campus of Victoria College. Both sides lost, of course, at which point Mexico stepped up. In 1824, Martin de Leon settled forty-one Mexican families in the area, calling the town Guadalupe Victoria to honor the first president of the Republic of Mexico. After Texas Independence, however, Guadalupe was dropped, keeping Victoria. Coming full circle, La Salle is now back in business thanks to the discovery of the exact location and ruins of his Fort St. Luis and his shipwreck La Belle, once resting in the shallow waters of Matagorda Bay. The accumulation of artifacts, called the La Salle Odyssey, are spread across the region in seven museums including Victoria’s Museum of the Coastal Bend, home to an excellent exhibition of La Salle’s misadventures.