Spanish soldiers lived temporarily at the current site of Bastrop as early as 1804, when a fort was established where the Old San Antonio Road crossed the Colorado River and named Puesta del Colorado.
Bastrop's namesake, Felipe Enrique Neri, Baron de Bastrop (he was actually a commoner named Philip Hendrik Nering Bogel wanted for embezzlement in his native country of the Netherlands), assisted Moses and Stephen F. Austin in obtaining land grants in Texas, and he served as S.F. Austin's land commissioner.
In 1827, Stephen F. Austin located 100 families in an area adjacent to his earlier Mexican contracts. Austin arranged for Mexican officials to name a new town there after the baron who died the same year
On June 8, 1832, the town was platted along conventional Mexican lines, with a square in the center and blocks set aside for public buildings and officially named Bastrop, but two years later the Coahuila y Texas legislature renamed it Mina in honor of Francisco Javier Mina, a Mexican martyr and hero. The town was incorporated under the laws of Texas on December 18, 1837, and the name changed back to Bastrop.
Overlooking the center of the town is the Lost Pines Forest. Composed of loblolly pine, the forest is the center of the westernmost stand of the southern pine forest. As the only timber available in the area, the forest contributed to the local economy. Bastrop began supplying Austin with lumber in 1839 and then San Antonio, the western Texas frontier, and into Mexico.
The first edition of The Bastrop Advertiser and County News (now just The Bastrop Advertiser) was published on March 1, 1853, giving it claim to being the oldest continuously published weekly (semi-weekly since September 5, 1977) in the state of Texas.
A fire in 1862 destroyed most of downtown Bastrop's commercial buildings and the county courthouse. Thus, most current downtown structures post date the Civil War.
In 1979, the National Register of Historic Places admitted 131 Bastrop buildings and sites to its listings. This earned Bastrop the title of the "Most Historic Small Town in Texas."