County Seat: Bastrop * County Population: 74,171 (2010 Census)
The Bastrop County Courthouse was built in 1883 in a Renaissance Revival style as designed by architects Jasper N. Preston and F.E. Ruffini. The county capitol replaced the two-story 1852 courthouse, which burned in January of the same year.
The original design of the red brick and stone building included pedimented gables over each entrance, decorative caps on the corner pavilions, and a central clock tower with three tiers. In 1923, the building was “modernized” by C.H. Page and Bros. The original roof and pediments were removed and replaced with a flat roof with parapets on the corners and over the entrances. The clock tower was shortened, and a copper cap was added. The entrance porticos were altered, and the brick was covered with a yellow/beige-colored plaster. The interior was also renovated. The courthouse now sits among modern annexes to its south and southeast sides with the historic 1891 jail on its west side.
Bastrop County, east of Austin and astraddle the Colorado River, is one of the original 23 counties in the state formed after the independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico in 1836.
The county was named for Felipe Enrique Neri, Baron de Bastrop, a principal advocate of American colonization into Texas who helped pave the way for Moses and Stephen F. Austin’s endeavors.
Bastrop’s historical downtown district lures both tourists and homefolks to popular antique stores and restaurants. Northern Bastrop County is home to the city of Elgin, the Sausage Capital of Texas.
Just past the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa on State Highway 71 is the quiet, beautiful town of Smithville where the movie “Hope Floats” was filmed.
The city of McDade is known for the Sherwood Forest Faire, a locally owned, medieval-style village with more than 100 permanent buildings on 25 acres including stages, pubs, merchant shoppes, wedding venues, a complete castle, and more. The Robin Hood Spring Faire offers about 150 shows per day by more than 40 different stage acts.
Bastrop County is home to Bastrop State Park and Buescher State Park; the two are connected by a scenic, winding, 12-mile paved road.
The county is located on the Central Flyway, which is one of the four North American migratory paths. Over 350 bird species have been spotted and counted throughout the year. Due to a large number of birding enthusiasts along with an abundance of birds, Bastrop County was established as a home to one of Texas’ 16 Audubon Society chapters and received the Bird City Texas designation; only three other Texas cities share that designation.
The Colorado River Bridge at Bastrop and the Iron Bridge are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Texas.
For more information on special attractions, go to https://explorebastropcounty.com/top-10-things-to-do-in-bastrop-county/.
Terry Jeanson, photographer for texasexcapes.com, contributed to this article.