Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Salado, Texas

Quaint Little Town in Texas

I first visited Salado, Texas back in the 1950’s when I was a student at Baylor University. I attended a luncheon at the Stagecoach Inn and was fascinated by the building, the food, and the town.

I visited there once again to attend a bridesmaid luncheon for my son’s bride-to-be. As many times as I’ve wanted to go back, I’ve never made it. I still remember the quaint shops that lined the streets then.

Tucked away in Bell County, it lies just east of Interstate 35 between Austin and Waco. The bubbling springs of Salado Creek run through the town, adding to its charm. The creek also made it a good home and camping grounds for Indians long before explorers took to the land.

Settlers came to the area as early as 1834, but abandoned it several years later because of Indian raids and an invasion by Santa Anna and his Mexican Army. Archibald Willingham came in 1850, and was the first permanent settler. A post office came along in 1852, a weekly stage ran between Austin and Waco several years before the town actually existed.

From 1866 till 1885, the famous Chisholm cattle drives passed through the town straight down Main Street making Salado and the Stagecoach Inn one of its stops. The inn still serves as a hotel today and is the site of many luncheons, dinners, and reunions not only because of its history but also because it has great food.

In 1867, Salado incorporated to build a wire suspension bridge across Salado Creek and it was finished in 1869. It stood until the great flood of 1900. The creek, a great force in the history of the area was designated the first recorded Natural Landmark in 1966.

By 1884 Salado had a population of 900, 7 churches, 14 stores, 2 hotels, 2 blacksmiths, and 3 cotton gins. However after the railroads bypassed Salado to the North and South trade moved away from the town and population began to dwindle, hitting 400 by 1914 and down to 200 by 1950.

After re-incorporating, the population grew and the 2010 census lists the population of the village at 2,126. Tourists will find nineteen Salado locations that are listed in the National Register of Historic places including the home of George Washington Baines, maternal great-grandfather of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. 

One of the most significant aspects of Salado is the college established there in 1859 on land donated by Elijah Robertson who was elected President of its Board of Directors. The cornerstone for the first building was laid on July 4, 1860. He also donated land that was sod to families moving into the area. All proceeds from the sales were contributed to the building of the college. It was the first college in the state to operate without church or state funds.

The college site is now Salado College Memorial Public Park.  After being destroyed by two fires in 1901 and 1902, the buildings were rebuilt, but a fire in 1924 came at a time when the citizens couldn’t afford to rebuild. After the ruins were stabilized it became a park. A foundation formed in 2011 has made improvements and now maintains it for the public.

The revitalization of Salado started in the 1940's as the fame of the dining room at the Stagecoach Inn spread. In 1959, the Central Texas Area Museum was founded. Today, the town boasts of about 130 businesses of many kinds and add to the quaint charm of this small town in the heart of Texas.

Our nation is filled with historic places to visit and famous places to dine. What is the most historic place you have stopped in for dining?

Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston where they enjoy spending time with their grandchildren.  A former English and Home Economics teacher, Martha loves to cook and experimenting with recipes and loves scrapbooking when she has time. She is the Director of the Houston Christian Writers Conference held in August each year, a member of ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.

Find Martha at:  www.marthawrogers.com


  1. Wow, it's the town that refused to die. I'm impressed. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Miss Martha! I love your post today. Saledo has a very special place in my heart. You see, my husband and I spent part of our honeymoon there forty one years ago this month. And years later, our daughter and son-in-law married there as well as spent their honeymoon. We go back periodically and still enjoy every visit. Wonderful place and wonderful memories!

    1. This is really a great memory, Melanie. I love the town, and it holds some good memories for me as well. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. This was an informative and interesting post. Truly a place to visit. Thank you for sharing.