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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

1874 :: Rockdale at Two Weeks of Age

. . . The new line has only been finished to Rockdale since the second day of February, and the company has not had time to complete the extensive stock yards which it is erecting; yet application has already been made by owners for the transportation of over 50,000 head of cattle. The yards, I understand, will be finished within the next week, when Rockdale must necessarily become a busy place and a great cattle centre. In fact, I see nothing to prevent its becoming one of the most important cities in the State. 

It has already, in its short two weeks' existence, become a lumber market for a region of 100 miles around. The International Road runs, through the heart of the great pineries of Eastern Texas and brings to this place about twenty car-loads of lumber a day. There are already three lumber yards here doing a thriving business. 

The people in this section have had heretofore nothing but oak lumber, which has cost them from $35 to $40 a thousand. Now, since the completion of the railway, they can get the best pine for $25. The result is that the planters are putting up elegant residences and abandoning the old log cabin of two rooms and a passage way between, in which they have spent their lives. 

The professional wagoners, who haul the cotton from the plantations, sometimes fifty miles, instead of returning empty handed, buy a load of lumber and sell it on the way back, thus doubling their income of the ante-railway time. This place must become a considerable lumber market, as well as a centre of supplies for the rich counties that lie northwest of here, there being no other railway point within their reach.

Rockdale is situated in Milam county, thirty-five miles west of the Brazos, and in the heart of the cotton region, known as the Brazos uplands, which average a bale to a bale and a half to the acre. It is in the most thickly settled portion of Central Texas, the famous lands and wealthy population of Bell county lying on the north, and whose market and outlet Rockdale must be. 

From 9 o'clock until noon to-day I counted 160 odd bales of cotton brought by wagons into the town and sold for shipment over the International and Great Northern to Galveston. And the town not two weeks old! 

The cotton planting interest of the region, which must make this a shipping point, will alone be sufficient to maintain a considerable city, leaving out the cattle and lumber handling, which must be its main business. 

I am not writing up a mushroom town. I am telling what I see as I go along; and I think I see another Denison, though I don't own any corner lots. When Texas becomes a great and populous State, as she must within the next few years, I am satisfied that Rockdale will be one of the big lettered names on her map. Enoch. Austin Weekly Statesman, March 19, 1874

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