The crossing over the San Xavier (San Gabriel) River in Milam county has been used as a passageway for centuries. Evidence shows that the area has been inhabited by humans for at least 10,000 years. During the eighteenth century, the land was inhabited by numerous native American tribes, including the Apaches. Tribes relied heavily on the plentiful water supply for agriculture and hunting. In the mid-1700's Spanish explorers saw the Apache Pass as a practical location for missions because of "the fact that there were several wide valleys suitable for irrigation...plenty of wood, a lot of stone..." Even though the Apaches made it clear they did not wish for the missions to be built in this area, the Spanish selected Apache Pass as the most desirable location.
The gravel bar across the river made it easily accessible by horseback or wagon. Three missions and a presidio were built in the area surrounding Apache Pass and were utilized between 1746 and 1757. Because of this, Apache Pass became a hub for Spanish explorers and settlers. After the missions were closed, the area continued to attract pioneers building homes on both sides of the river because of its fertile soil and fresh water supply. In 1913, a bridge was built across the river and traffic transferred to it. During restoration of the bridge, travelers were, again, using the gravel bar to traverse the river. In 2004, the United States Congress authorized the designation of a historic trail in Texas. El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail was recognized and the Apache Pass river crossing became a part of it as well as the National Register of Historic Places.