MKT GP-40 204 heading north, passing the MKT's Taylor depot, after crushing the diamonds; April 1988
Photo courtesy of www.railpixs.com
Taylor is at the intersections of the Missouri Pacific
and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas lines and State Highway 95 and U.S. Highway 79,
in southeastern Williamson County.
In 1876 the Texas Land Company auctioned lots in anticipation of the arrival of the
International-Great Northern Railroad.   Taylorsville (which officially became Taylor
in 1892) was named after Edward Moses Taylor, a railroad official.
An influx of settlers from Czechoslovakia and other Slavic states, as well as from Germany
and Austria, helped establish the town.   It soon became a busy shipping point for
cattle, grain, and cotton.   By 1878 the town had 1,000 residents and thirty-two
businesses, twenty-nine of which were destroyed by fire in 1879.   Recovery was rapid,
however, and more substantial buildings were constructed.
In 1882 the Taylor, Bastrop and Houston Railway reached the community, and machine shops
and a roundhouse serviced both rail lines.   In 1882 the town was incorporated with a
mayor-council form of city government, and in 1883 a public school system replaced a number
of private schools.   By 1890 Taylor had two banks and the first savings and loan
institution in Texas.   An electric company, a cotton compress, and several newspapers
were among the new enterprises.   A water line from the San Gabriel River, a 100-man
volunteer fire department, imported and local entertainment, and a yearly fair made noteworthy
news items by 1900.
Taylor continued to grow during the early years of the twentieth century.   An artesian
well was drilled, a city hall was built, and a hospital was opened.   Two daily
newspapers, as well as weekly German and Czech papers, were published.
By 1940 the town had 7,875 residents and 225 businesses.   Though other industries were
added in the early 1900s, cotton was the leading local product, and Taylor proclaimed itself
"the largest inland cotton market in the world."   In 1951 the local press noted that
150 to 300 crews were at work but that 3,000 more pickers were needed; mechanical harvesting
soon reduced the need for migratory workers, however.   By 1954 the Agricultural and
Industrial Foundation sought a more diversified local economy, a program that the Development
Corporation for Industrial Financing continued in the 1980s.   By 1983 twenty-two
manufacturers and processors were located in Taylor, and cotton production had been joined by
maize, wheat, and cattle.
In the 1980s transportation facilities in Taylor included the two railroads, a bus line,
an airport, five freight lines, and the two main highways.   Residents were served by a
daily paper, a radio station, Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, Lone Star Gas, and Texas
Power and Light.   Sources of water included four artesian wells and the Lake Granger
Water Supply Corporation.
The diverse population included people of English and Scots-Irish background, as well as
Czechs, Germans, Swedes, Hispanics, and blacks.   In the mid-1980s the population was
about 57 percent Anglo, 25 percent Hispanic, and 18 percent black.   The thirty-four
local churches represented fifteen denominations.   Educational facilities included
public elementary schools, a middle and a high school, and parochial schools.   The
public schools offered vocational training; junior-college extension courses and adult-education
programs were provided in a number of fields.   Public sports facilities included parks
with swimming pools, several tennis courts, a rodeo arena, a hike and bike trail, and several
lighted baseball diamonds.   The country club had a pool and a nine-hole golf course.
Taylor now has a commission-manager form of city government; a planning committee, zoning
ordinances, and a master plan have been established to guide development.
A hospital, a medical clinic, several nursing homes, and ambulances provide local health care.
Taylor has offices of the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, the Texas
National Guard, and the Child Development and Neighborhood Center.   The town has sent a
governor and a number of state representatives to Austin.   Interest in downtown
revitalization resulted in the hiring of a Main Street project manager in 1983, and restoration
work began.   In 1983 the city limits encompassed some ten square miles, and the
estimated population was 10,900.   Historical markers, a museum, and library archives
reflected local participation in historic preservation.   In 1990 the population of
Taylor was 11,472.
Information from The
Handbook of Texas Online; a joint project of The General Libraries at the
University of Texas at Austin and the Texas State Historical
Association. The Handbook of Texas Online