Rockdale Texas History:
In 1873, George Green, B. F. Ackerman, and Frank Smith sold 400 acres of land to the International-Great Northern Railroad, which was laying track from Hearne to Austin. Town lots were sold in February 1874 when the railway reached Rockdale. The town was named for a nearby large boulder (scroll down to photo
). Because the town was initially Milam County’s only railroad town, it quickly became a shipping and supply center for area farmers who produced cotton, wool, vegetables, fruits, grains, hides, and livestock. The town incorporated in 1878. By 1884, Rockdale had schools, churches, two steam gristmill-cotton gins, an opera house, a variety of businesses and 1,700 residents. Rockdale expanded its economic base in the 1890s when several coal mines were developed. In 1891, the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway completed a line between Lexington and Cameron, adding a stop in Rockdale. By 1914, Rockdale was shipping 7,000 railroad cars of lignite coal every week. A shallow oilfield was discovered in 1920; a refinery was established on the outskirts of town. The growth of the oil and natural gas industry in Texas from the 1920s through the 1940s undercut the market for coal. Over time, the coal mines in Rockdale closed. In the early 1950s the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) discovered an inexpensive method of converting lignite into electricity and built a new aluminum plant near Rockdale and the Sandow lignite mine, revitalizing the Rockdale economy; within six years Rockdale’s population almost tripled, rising from 2,300 in 1954 to 6,300 in 1958. In 1959, the Texas and New Orleans Railroad abandoned its track between Lexington and Cameron, thereby depriving Rockdale of its north-south rail line. Although the loss of one of its railroads was a significant economic setback for some of the city's businesses, the lignite industry continued to prosper. Rockdale is located at the intersections of U.S. 79 (Cameron Avenue), U.S. 77, FM 908 (Main Street) and FM 487 (Wilcox & Ackerman Streets), 24.5 miles northeast of Taylor, 12.8 miles northeast of Thorndale, approximately 20 miles northeast of Granger Lake, 12.8 miles northeast of Thorndale, 35 miles southeast of Granger, 52 miles southeast of Belton, 16.8 miles south of Cameron, 29.5 miles southwest of Hearne, 48 miles west of Bryan via Caldwell, 26 miles northwest of Caldwell, 43 miles northwest of Somerville and Lake Somerville, 27.4 miles north of Lincoln, 17.4 miles north of Lexington, and 41 miles northeast of Elgin, Texas.
Historic CR 428 San Gabriel River Sugarloaf Truss Bridge & Map:
The Faubian Bridge was located on the early “Ramons Road” approximately one mile upstream from the Sugarloaf Bridge. The Faubian Bridge was the only area crossing on the San Gabriel River. After the Faubian Bridge fell into the river in December 1937, Milam County hired the Austin Bridge Company to move one of the original truss spans from the abandoned Bryan-Caldwell Road Bridge in Brazos County to form the CR 428 Sugarloaf Bridge on the San Gabriel River at Apache Pass River Amphitheater near the base of Sugarloaf Mountain. This Parker through truss bridge is the longest of its type in the continental U.S. Apache Pass is located at 9112 North FM 908.
WPA Post Office Murals History:
During the Great Depression FDR created the New Deal Program to provide jobs for out of work American men by funding construction projects to build post offices and other buildings, and state and local parks. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created in May 1935, under the New Deal Program. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture, later known as The Section of Fine Arts, put artists to work by funding Post Office Murals to be placed in the new post offices. Though most of the post office art consists of oil paintings on canvas, other art mediums were also used. The murals are in every state. Post Office Murals Photos
Rockdale WPA Post Office Mural,1947:
"Industry in Rockdale" was painted in oils by Maxwell Starr in 1947. Maxwell completed the mural after his return from World War II. (512) 446-2071. The mural is located at the Rockdale Post Office at 234 Ackerman Street, Rockdale.
RockdaleI & GNDepot & Museum, 1906:
The red brick International & Great Northern Railroad freight depot was built in 1889 on the south side of Milam at Burleson Street. The I & GN passenger depot was constructed in 1906 at the corner of Milam and Main Streets. The railroad closed the depot in 1970. Late that year Adolph McVoy purchased the depot from the Missouri Pacific Railroad. He used the building for storing animal feed and fertilizer. The Historical Society purchased the building from Mr. McVoy in 1999 and restored it to its original condition for use as a museum. The museum houses a collection of railroad china, railroad lanterns, and other railroad memorabilia. The north waiting room features displays relating to the history of Rockdale and local area history. The 36-foot Cheyenne Mountain, a 1946 Missouri-Pacific dining car, is located on the grounds along with a restored Missouri Pacific caboose. A working model railroad is housed in the restored baggage room along with railroad related photos and signs; the railroad includes both O and HO scales. A replica of a working blacksmith shop
was built on the museum grounds. The museum hosts special exhibits. Open Sat, 10am-4pm; Sun, 1pm-4pm; or by appointment. (512) 446-2020. 11 N. Main Street.
This 1947 Quonset style theater was restored by the Kay Theater Foundation. The theatre hosts movies and theater performances. The September 5-Kay Fun Run/Walk is their annual fundraiser. (512) 446-2216. 350 North Main Street.
Lucy Hill Patterson Memorial Library:
The library provides traditional library programs, children, youth and adult programs, summer programs, public access computers with internet connections, and free Wi-Fi. Open Tue, Wed & Fri, 10am-6pm; Thu, 10am-8pm; Sat, 10am-2pm. (512) 446-3410. 201 Ackerman Street, 76567.