ALL ABROAD…. The Breckenridge Eagle

Published in the La Vernia News on October 8, 2015


All Aboard …………

The Brackenridge Eagle

Everyday Journeys

  Harry and Linda kaye Perez  

      San Antonio’s Brackenridge Park has been around for a long, long time. It is part of San Antonio’s history and its future, thanks to George Washington Brackenridge. 


      George Brackenridge, born in 1832, was trained as a surveyor and engineer and also studied law at Harvard University. Although he was born in Indiana, he made his way to Texas as quick as he could, where he opened his first mercantile business at the age of 21.  Brackenridge was also involved in the banking business, and was the financial backer and held the controlling interest in the San Antonio Water Works Company, now known as the San Antonio’s City Water Board. He was the first president of the San Antonio School Board in 1899, and was also the longest serving Regent for the University of Texas. The George W. Brackenridge Foundation still provides educational scholarships.

     George Brackenridge remained unmarried his entire life and died in San Antonio in 1920. Because of his tremendous influence on San Antonio and his philanthropic generosity, a bronze statue of George Washington Brackenridge was placed at the Broadway Street park entrance in 1972.


      In addition to the initial 199 acres donated by George Brackenridge, other donations of land were made until the park grew to 342 acres. The first project was the construction of a public 18-hole golf course. Golf enthusiasts lobbied for years for this venue, noting it would be a “great tourist attraction” for the city of San Antonio. In was opened in 1916 and is the oldest public golf course in Texas. 

Who can resist lure of a leisurely train ride through beautiful surroundings? Climb aboard the San Antonio Zoo Eagle - to take in the scene in Breckenridge Part in the heart of San Antonio.

    About the same time, Brackenridge added buffalo, deer, monkeys, lions, and bears to a small zoo collection assembled in San Pedro Park, moved them all to the newly created Brackenridge Park, and the San Antonio Zoo was born. Today the 35-acre zoo, third largest animal collection in North America, has over 3,500 animals representing 750 species, and it continues to expand with exciting and interactive exhibits. Our favorites are Africa, where you can watch hippos in their water habitat through a ceiling to floor glass wall, and the Caterpillar Flight School (Butterfly Exhibit-March through November).

Climb Aboard


   Generations of families have enjoyed the Brackenridge Eagle (now the San Antonio Zoo Eagle) since 1956. It is the longest miniature railroad in the world, taking in 2 ½ scenic miles along San Antonio River, past the San Antonio Zoo, the Witte Museum, Kiddie Park, and the Japanese Tea Gardens. It crosses the San Antonio River twice and as it crosses the roadways, you can hear the clanging of flashing red signal lights as the arms come down across the road. Drivers and train riders alike enjoy waving at each other. After crossing a long trestle over the river, the train enters the Round House Tunnel- a perfect time to steal a kiss from a loved one. 

            Weather permitting, the train runs 365 days a year from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Cost is $3.50 per rider over the age of 3. (Hint- you don’t have to have a child to ride the Eagle, its fun at any age). The nice part is that you can get off the train at any of its many stops, enjoy the Witte, have a picnic lunch, or visit the Japanese Tea Gardens, then rejoin the train and continue your trip.


 And there’s more

    One of the many nice things about Brackenridge Park is that there is so much to do there- and much of its is free: playgrounds, picnic areas with tables and barbeque pits, fishing, bird-watching, biking, and walking, just to name a few. It is a beautiful oasis in the middle of a big, busy city; a retreat of sorts, a great place to spend the day or just your lunch break to stretch out on a blanket under shade trees and read a book.  


There’s much to enjoy in the 342 acres Breckenridge Park, from wildlife- watching along the San Antonio River to seeing exotic wildlife in the San Antonio Zoo, as well as picnicking, fishing, bird-watching, and much more.



Find out more

San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium

3903 N. St. Mary’s Street

San Antonio, TX 78212

(210) 734-7184

Brackenridge Park General Information

Then tag “Visit Us”

 G.W. Brackenridge

 All photos by Harry and Linda Kaye Perez





   © Harry Perez 2012