When Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels arrived in central Texas in 1845 to build an opulent home for his new fiancée, the German colonist could hardly have imagined that he would instead establish a town whose vibrant history carries on to this day. The Sophienburg Museum & Archives—named after the Princess of Salm-Salm who would never see her castle in person—now overflows with photographs, maps, and documents that chronicle the early days of New Braunfels and Comal County. The area’s cultural heritage is on full display in museum exhibits that house artifacts ranging from an antique carriage to Price Carl’s extensive collection of pickled lederhosen.
After exploring the intimate museum galleries, visitors can head to the archives to peruse one of the world’s largest repositories of information about the wave of German migration that swept over central Texas in the 19th century. A veritable forest of family trees and county records take root in a 1,200-book reference library, where visitors can hack through the genealogical fauna to trace their ancestry back to famous explorers and exiled Prussian pop stars.