This morning, after Silver Sneakers class, I visited McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin, off US 183. I decided at the last minute to visit it because of iffy weather predictions for this week, but I wanted to check on the bluebonnets. There were several nice patches along the roads inside the park. I hope to take some more little trips to photograph wildflowers before they’re all gone.
McKinney Falls a very pretty park and has an interesting history. It is named for Thomas McKinney. From the late 1600s to the early 1800s, a portion of El Camino Real de los Tejas ran through what is now the park. Missionaries, friars, government officials, soldiers and traders traveled along various routes from Spanish-controlled Mexico in¬to Texas and Louisiana during this period. Historical evidence suggests that some of these expeditions crossed Onion Creek just above the Lower Falls.
By 1850, Thomas McKinney was living on this property along Onion Creek, near a crossing of El Camino Real. He had settled in San Felipe de Austin in 1830 as one of Stephen F. Austin’s first 300 colonists before moving to Galveston.
McKinney and Samuel May Williams entered into a business partnership in 1834. During the Texas Revolution, their firm was the primary source of men, money and supplies for the Texas army - more than 10 percent of the total cost of the revolution. Their ships formed a part of the quickly-assembled Texas Navy.
McKinney died on Oct. 2, 1873, at his home. After McKinney’s death, his widow, Anna, sold the property to James Woods Smith. Members of the Smith family owned and farmed the land for several generations before donating it to the State of Texas in 1973. The park officially opened to the public in 1976.