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Waco travel guide — Waco tourism and travel information

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about Waco

Waco is the county seat of McLennan County, Texas. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 113,726.

Waco geography

Waco is located at 31°33'5" North, 97°9'21" West (31.551516, -97.155930).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 247.4 km² (95.5 mi²). 218.1 km² (84.2 mi²) of it is land and 29.3 km² (11.3 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 11.85% water.

Waco history

Prior to its founding, Neil McLennan had settled in an area near the South Bosque River in 1838. Jacob De Cordova bought McLennan's property and hired a former Texas Ranger and surveyor named George B. Erath to inspect the area. Erath had once been stationed at nearby Fort Hood. In 1849, Erath designed the first block of the city. He wanted to name it Lamartine, but eventually the name Waco was chosen, in honor of the historic Huaco Native American tribe that once had occupied the lands.

In 1845, Baylor University was founded in Independence, Texas, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Texas. It moved to Waco in 1886 and merged with Waco University, becoming an integral part of the city. The university's Strecker Museum was also the oldest continuously operating museum in the state until it closed in 2003, and the collections were moved to the new Sue & Frank Mayborn Museum Complex.

In 1866, the city embarked on an ambitious project to build the first bridge to span the wide Brazos River. They contacted an architectural firm owned by John Augustus Roebling in Trenton, New Jersey to build the 475-foot brick Waco Suspension Bridge, the longest span of any bridge west of the Mississippi River at the time of its completion in 1870. Because it was one of the first suspension bridges built in the United States, it also was a pioneering engineering feat of the era. The bridge was used as a working prototype for Roebling's later famous work, the Brooklyn Bridge. The economic effects of the bridge were immediate and large, attracting cattle runs from the nearby Chisolm Trail and increasing the population of the city, as immigrants now had a safe passage for their horse drawn carriages to cross the river. The bridge is now open only to pedestrian traffic.

In 1885, the soft drink Dr Pepper was invented in Waco's Old Corner Drug Store.

In the 1890s, William Cowper Brann published the highly successful Iconoclast newspaper in Waco. One of his targets was Baylor University. Brann revealed that Baylor officials had been importing South American children recruited by missionaries and making house-servants out of them. Brann was shot in the back by Tom Davis, a Baylor supporter. Brann wheeled, drew his pistol, and killed Davis. Brann was helped home by his friends, and died there of his wounds. [edit]

In 1894, the first Cotton Palace fair and exhibition center was built to reflect the dominant contribution of the agricultural cotton industry in the region. Since the end of the Civil War, cotton had been cultivated in the Brazos and Bosque valleys, and Waco became known nationwide as a top producer. Over the next 23 years, the annual exposition would welcome over eight million attendees. In 1931, the exposition fell prey to the Great Depression, and the building was torn down. However, the annual Cotton Palace Pagent continues to the present day, hosted in late April in conjunction with the Brazos River Festival.

On May 11, 1953, a tornado hit downtown Waco killing 114. As of 2004, it remains the tenth deadliest tornado in U.S. history and the deadliest in Texas state history.

In 1978, locals discovered bones emerging from the mud at the confluence of the Brazos River and the Bosque River. Subsequent excavations revealed that the bones were 28,000 years old and came from an ancient giant wooly mammoth. Eventually, the remains of at least 28 wooly mammoths were found at the site, making it one of the largest - and most intriguing - findings of its kind in the world. Scholars have puzzled over why such a large herd had been killed all at once.

On April 19, 1993 a standoff between federal agents and Branch Davidians ended in a fire that destroyed their compound located in a rural area two miles outside of the city's limits, and killed many of the cult's members.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Waco, Texas".




This city is also known as: Waco.

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