Texas Plains Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Texas Frontier


The history of the Texas Frontier begins almost 500 years ago in...Jamaica? Spanish explorer and cartographer Alonso Alvarez de Pineda, on behalf of the Jamaican governor (and his treasury), drew the first map of the Gulf Coast including the Texas coastline and, as a result, created the earliest known document in Texas history. Before Penida's map, prehistoric Texas existed as an unknown to outside influences, populated by many native peoples where no distinct culture dominated as far as we know. But Pineda only defined the limits of what would one day become Texas, not its depth. That would be left to a succession of French, Spanish, and American explorers to decipher.

The advent of the true Texan, however, arose from the desire for social and political freedom rather than a push for exploration. The Texas frontier provided an ideal opportunity for the individual to flourish or fail by his or her own free will and, history tells us, we did plenty of both. We also made sure our frontier challenges and triumphs could be revisited by documenting them in the literature, music, art, and architecture we created over the course of the last several centuries. Our Texas frontier survives. It's just a lot easier to get to these days.