Early History.  The La Bahía, Opelousas, or Lower Road was originally an east-west Indian trail in southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas and eventually extended to Washington-on-the-Brazos and Goliad (Presideo La Bahia). The Brazos River is thought to have been crossed at the mouth of the Navasota River in present Grimes County and the Colorado River near the site of present La Grange in Fayette County. The western portion of the road was laid out by the Spanish and was known as the Atascosito Road. The route was presumably known as early as 1686, when it was traveled by Alonso De León (ca. 1639-1691).  Later, the ill-fated French explorer La Salle is believed to have been murdered in Madison County by his own men on the La Bahia Trail in March of 1687, as he attempted to walk from a French settlement on the Gulf Coast near Victoria to present day St. Louis.  It was also known as the Opelousas Road during the nineteenth century, when it was used as a cattle trail.  The road was used by new settlers coming to early Texas.

Texas Independence Trail.  In 1836 the La Bahia Road was used to escape from the army of Mexican General Sana Anna during the Runaway Scape, after the fall of the Alamo.  Camped in Gonzalez, General Sam Houston ordered a retreat following the fall of the Alamo in March of 1836.  Houston’s retreat, along with the flight of the new Texas government from Washington-on-the-Brazos, sparked a panic, now called The Runaway Scrape.  People fled, taking only what they could carry.  The Runaway Scrape ended after Sam Houston’s army’s brilliant defeat of the Mexican Army on April 21, 1836 at the Battle of San Jacinto.