Mountain and town named in honor of man in power here in 1840's, a Comanche chief friendly to Texans. Santa Anna in 1846 visited President Polk in Washington during U.S. negotiations to annex Texas. Also signed and kept until his death of cholera in 1849 peace treaties that allowed the German Emigration Company to settle lands north of the Llano River.
Comanches used Santa Anna peaks as signal points. Early surveyors, travelers, explorers and settlers took them as guide points. In 1857, nearby United States Cavalry at Camp Colorado kept lookouts here.
In the Civil War, 1861-65, Frontier Rangers camped at foot of mountain with sentries on height watching at the pass the military road from San Antonio northeastward to Fort Belknap, a strategic outpost guarding Texas from invasion by Indians and Federal troops. During the 1870's, thousands of longhorns went through the gap, over the Western Cattle Trail.
In 1879, "The Gap" had a store and post office to supply the cattle drives. When Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe built here in 1886, settlers moved from the gap to the railroad, starting the present town.
Quarries in the mountain yield fine sands for the manufacturing of glass.