Although the Spanish began exploring what is present-day Texas as early as the sixteenth century, within 30 years of Columbus’s arrival in the New World, it wasn’t until 1690 that the Spanish established their first mission church, San Francisco de los Tejas, in what is today the Piney Woods of East Texas. The mission church, built in the remarkably brief period of five days, was made of wood logs, distinct from later mission building forms and the stone or adobe construction that would be characteristic in other parts of Spanish Texas. Today, visitors can appreciate a modern re-creation. Also, on the park grounds is a log house built more than a century later in 1828 by Joseph and Willie Masters Rice. The residence was a private home until the early twentieth century and gives a sense of pioneer life in this part of Texas.