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                          Cruise Along the Corridor 2003


 

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La Bahia Corridor Cruise 2003 -- San Antonio

The “Classic Cruise along the Corridor” is an annual event that celebrated its 14th anniversary this year. On May 3, over 200 collector and classic cars from 29 local car clubs met at San Antonio’s Botanical Gardens (555 Funston Pl.) and spent the day following different routes along the historical La Bahia Corridor. The ‘corridor’ follows the San Antonio River from the Alamo in downtown San Antonio 90 miles southeast to the La Bahia Mission in Goliad.    

I first heard about this day-long classic car cruise last year and decided to join up with this year’s event. After speaking with Burma Hyde of the Alamo Area Council of Governments, we made contact with Victor Campos who coordinated with a local club that we joined up with.  Saturday morning started with an overcast sky and the temperature was a comfortable 75 degrees – perfect driving weather!  We arrived at the Botanical Gardens at 8am and we were treated very well by the AACOG members who parked us right in front of the main greeting area where the band, Highway 16 was playing good 1950’s cruising music.  Gunn Honda of San Antonio is a major sponsor of this event and they were on hand to provide coffee and other refreshments for the participants.  The staging area was too small to handle all the early arrivals, so many people had to park in alternate areas until their club was scheduled to assemble.

 

                    


Our club was the Classic Cruisers. They are a San Antonio club who consist mostly of 1950’s Chevrolet pickup trucks.  Our small group this morning consisted of three classic Chevy pickups, a 1955 Chevrolet 2-door sedan, and my 1953 Ford Texas DPS unit.  We departed the lower parking area of the gardens at 9:00am.  

Our route took us through the rich historic and cultural Wilson and Karnes counties, with visits in the towns of Floresville, Falls City, Karnes City, Helena, Panna Maria, Stockdale and Sutherland Springs.  Along with the historic Spanish missions at the beginning and terminus of this route, we discovered an area rich with Texas culture. Cattle drive trails ran right though this area during the 19th century as well as the oldest Polish settlement in America dating from the mid 1800’s.  Although there are over 500 varieties of birds found in this region, we did not notice many as we cruised the back roads, but we did notice the vibrant colors of the famous Texas wildflowers which lined the roadway all day long.
 

                


We had a light shower as we left San Antonio, but this ended by the time we arrived at our first stop, the Promised Land Dairy in Floresville.  Finding the place was tricky as precise directions were not provided by event organizers and there was no signage, but we did find the facility and took a guided tour of the dairy and enjoyed some delicious ice cream at their soda fountain.  

In Falls City, we stopped at Pollok’s Market right on the main highway and enjoyed a cold Ice Tea with snacks provided by the storeowners.  There were some other clubs here as we arrived, but parking behind the store was not a problem.  This place is also home to Pollok’s Sausage a company that produces over 15,000 pounds of Polish Keilbasa sausage a week using a 150 year old family recipe.  A local DPS trooper came out to see the 1953 patrol unit and enjoyed taking photos with the car.  We left Falls City to Karnes City, county seat for Karnes County. The large courthouse on the hill can be seen for miles as you approach the town.  Karnes city was established in 1890 and named after Texas Ranger Captain Henry Wax Karnes.  

After Karnes City we drove to the ghost town of Helena where we were treated to a delicious Bar-B-Q lunch prepared by the Karnes County Historical Society on the grounds of the Historic Karnes County Museum.  The first Karnes County courthouse is located here along with the Sickenius Farmhouse (a turn of the century home), the old post office and a couple of 1890’s jail cells.  Members of the historical society were dressed in period outfits and proudly described the history of this area dating back to 1852. The nearby three-story John Ruckman house was a treat to visit.  Built in 1878, it is constructed of Florida cypress lumber, which is why the building has lasted so many years.   

Back on the road again, about five miles away is the town of Panna Maria (Polish for Virgin Mary), where we met Elaine Moczygemba who was gracious to show us the beautiful Immaculate Conception Church.  This town is now home to a mere 100 people, but is on the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest permanent Polish settlement in America! The first polish settlers arrived here in 1854 and celebrated mass on Christmas Eve of that same year under the large oak tree sitting in the present-day church yard.  

Continuing on through Cestohowa (another Polish settlement) and through more rolling hills to Stockdale, where we turned west toward Sutherland Springs.  This small town of 370 people is another authentic Texas ghost town.  Established in 1860 as the Wilson county seat, the town was famous for its nearly 100 sulphur and mineral springs in the area. These springs were used for curing all sorts of ailments and the US army even used the waters for recuperating soldiers during WWI. Special thanks to all the volunteers at the Sutherland Springs Museum for their time and stories about this interesting area.

After Sutherland Springs, we headed back to San Antonio, arriving just after 6pm. All-in-all this was an enjoyable 150-mile cruise to a nearby area, which many visitors never see while driving up the nearby interstate.  There is so much more to see and do in these small towns, that an entire weekend could be dedicated to this area, but we’ll leave that for next years trip.  

Folks are already anticipating next year's 15th Annual Classic Cruise Along the Corridor, which will be held on Saturday May 1, 2004.


For More Information:
Alamo Area Council of Governments: www.aacog.com
Texas Escapes: Listing of Texas towns with points of interest: www.texasescapes.com
Promised Land Dairy: www.promisedlanddairy.com
Texas Monthly Article about Helena: http://www.texasmonthly.com/mag/issues/2001-04-01/texashistory.php?840666642
 

 

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