Every time I visit a new small town, I try to discover what the place says about the people who live there. How do they make a living? What do they do for fun? How much civic pride and community spirit are evident? What makes a person want to settle down there?
I wasn’t in Cuero ten minutes before the first interesting thing struck me. The front page headline on the local paper was about the success of the high school drama team. Not scandal, not politics, not disaster; just a proud story about some talented local high school students. I often forget that small towns have the opportunity to do that.
The next thing that surprised me (shocked me, really) was a street sign on Main street in downtown that directed people to the restrooms. PUBLIC restrooms. CLEAN public restrooms. (Because of course I had to go check them out.) I can’t remember the last time I saw a feature like that in a downtown area.
Cuero is a town that wants you to come visit. It sits just north of the Guadalupe river, where 183 meets 87. We were drawn by the delightful architecture of the county courthouse, but there were plenty of other historic and restored buildings to appreciate throughout the town. Once part of the Chisholm Trail used to herd cattle to Kansas, Cuero later became known for ranching, particularly turkey ranching, which explains the Turkeyfest each October. Just a block away from the courthouse sits the Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum where visitors can explore the age of cattle drives and cowboys. The museum even offers a free day camp for kids in August called Cowboy Camp, where students learn about and experience traditions of 19th century ranch and trail life.
The churches are worth viewing in Cuero as well. The town has several well-preserved traditional church buildings that recall an earlier era, both in architecture and in community living. Downtown Cuero’s commercial historic district with its interesting two-story business buildings is still home to active businesses like cafes and barber shops, and many of the buildings sport the building’s name or the dates each was built. Along other streets, you’ll find restored or preserved houses that will take you off the main roads to explore the town a little more closely.
Food is everywhere in Cuero, especially near downtown. Mexican food, deli fare, Italian food, steaks, Chinese food, and burgers are all available, so it would be difficult to make up your mind about what to eat there. Of course there are the traditional fast food offerings, but there’s always good locally-owned options to explore in towns like this. Cuero has a lot of lodging options, too, probably due to its proximity to Eagle Ford Shale operations. Chain hotels, local motels, RV parks, and B&Bs all welcome visitors at reasonable prices, making Cuero a good place to stay over when exploring he Coastal Bend area.
That’s especially true since the town is situated in the center of so much Texas history; Goliad to the south, Gonzales to the north, and each within a short drive of Cuero. If you’re taking in historical sites in Texas, be sure to include Cuero on your list. I bet you’ll be as charmed by it as I was.