Curving through the center of Texas from Hill County south and west to Uvalde County is the rugged escarpment-fault called Balcones. The abundance of natural resources associated with this geologic formation affected the pattern of colonization in Texas. The numerous springs and wooded hills of the escarpment and adjacent fertile prairies attracted Indian tribes and Spanish colonists before the area was permanently settled by Anglo-American pioneers.
Spanish explorer Bernardo De Miranda in 1756 named the formation "Los Balcones", meaning "Balconies". Part of El Camino Real, the "King's Highway", skirted the fault line. Spanish missions and presidios were located at Springs near San Antonio, Austin, and elsewhere, but many Spanish settlements disappeared before 1800.
Anglo-Americans led by Stephen F. Austin began to settle near the Balcones escarpment before 1830. Through their courage and determination, early pioneer settlements grew into the towns and cities that today dot the fault line. The town of Austin, with its combination of beauty and natural resources, was chosen capital of the independent Republic of Texas, which became the 28th state of the United States.