Mission Tejas, a sleepy spot tucked away deep in the Piney Woods, honors a nearby site where Spain attempted to maintain its territorial claims in East Texas. In 1690, in an effort to limit French incursions and to convert native tribes to Christianity, Captain Alonso de León led an expedition to establish the first mission in the province of Texas near the Neches River. Smallpox, drought, and cultural clashes led to the mission’s abandonment only four years later. The mission was re-established and abandoned two more times in the following years. By 1730, the Spanish had abandoned the mission for good.
In 1934, the CCC built the park, including a chapel to commemorate the Spaniards’ missionary efforts. The park’s 1828 Rice Family Log Home is one of the oldest buildings in the area. The log cabin—originally built 16 miles away—offered early 19th-century travelers food and lodging on El Camino Real, which connected San Antonio to Nacogdoches and points beyond. In 1973, the log cabin was donated to the park and moved to its current site. Visitors can tour the two historic structures, camp in the small campground tucked away in a shady hollow, and walk several miles of trails. Highlights of the trails include a pond and the hilltop site of an old fire lookout tower.