All of this amounts to a place that is not to be overlooked. If you’re looking for a convenient escape from the rush of the big city, or you want to get out and savor one of the prettiest parts of Texas, plan your next trip to Giddings.
Giddings traces its roots all the way back to the Texas Revolution in 1836. It was named after Texas soldier Giles Giddings, who was mortally wounded fighting in the Battle of San Jacinto. When Giddings passed away, General Sam Houston awarded him a league of land to honor his sacrifice. Giddings’ brother, Jabez Deming (J.D.), claimed the land in place of his deceased brother, and worked to ensure the railroad would route through the land as it connected Austin and Houston. A depot was built, and a small town flourished around it. Giddings was first settled by Germans, Jews, and Wends, a small group of Slavic people from Lusatia in eastern Germany. The town is one of the few places settled by the Wends in significant numbers, making it the center for Wendish heritage in the Lone Star State.
The town’s history with the railroad, and its Wendish culture, live on in Giddings today. Visit the Union Station Transportation Museum and The Rural Texas Tourism Center to learn about Giddings’ railroad history and the rural communities of Texas. The center is composed of three depots that were restored in 2009, which led to Governor Rick Perry awarding the town the title of “Depot Capital of Texas.” Then stop by the Wendish Heritage Museum in historic Serbin, where you’ll discover the history of the Wends through the museum’s displays of artifacts from Lusatia. Serbin is home to another site that must be seen: St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Build in 1870, St. Paul’s is a captivating example of Wendish architecture and one of the Painted Churches of Texas.
There’s plenty more going on in Giddings beyond its history, heritage, and lineup of events. Giddings sits within an hour of five state parks and historic sites (Bastrop State Park, Buescher State Park, Monument Hill State Park, Nails Creek State Park, and Lake Somerville State Park & Trailway). Each park offers hiking and biking trails, places to camp, forests to traverse, and top-class fishing to enjoy. With all its historic architecture, Giddings itself is a hiking destination of sorts. Marvel at the red-brick walls and distinctive clock tower of the 1899 Lee County Courthouse and the pointed spire of the 1876 First Presbyterian Church before traversing downtown Giddings in search of vibrant murals.
If you’re an antique enthusiast, history buff, or outdoor enthusiast, you’ll find plenty to love about Giddings.
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