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    CAMERON, TEXAS

    Milam County Seat, Central Texas South
    Highways 77 and 190
    17 miles N of Rockdale
    71 miles NE of Austin
    32 miles SE of Temple
    Population: 5,634 (2000)

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    Pioneer cabin, Milam County Jail and Courthouse
    Pioneer cabin, left, Milam County Jail and Courthouse
    TE Photo
    History in a Pecan Shell

    Nashville, Texas on the banks of the Brazos, had served as the seat of Milam County since the time Texas was declared a Republic. In April of 1846 the Texas Legislature authorized a commission to find a more permanent site for the county seat. These men bought sixty acres on the Little River that year and named the new town in honor of Ewen Cameron, surveyor.

    Cameron's first courthouse was finished that same year and county records were transferred from Nashville. Alone on the prairie and fifty miles from the nearest railroad depot, early residents had an opportunity to become well acquainted with one another.

    Attempts were made to navigate the Little River in the late 1840s and early 1850s. In 1850 one of these attempts proved successful when Capt. Basil M. Hatfield managed to bring his steamboat up the Little River to about 2 east of town. Cameronians rejoiced and a two-day celebration was held. Sadly, it was learned that only after heavy rains could a boat get through. Regular service was out of the question.

    Cameron had other problems in the 1870s. When the International-Great Northern Railroad came to Rockdale, people started suggesting Rockdale as perhaps the best location for a county seat. Elections were held in 1874 and 1880, and Cameron scraped by on both occasions.

    Finally in 1881 the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway arrived and Cameron felt secure. Ten years later the San Antonio and Aransas Pass came through. In 19th Century Texas there were two blessings. One would be having a hometown boy become Governor - and the other was to get a second railroad.

    Before the railroads, Cameron only had 500 citizens. After the railroads arrived it was suddenly up to 800 and by 1892 the population had reached 2,000.
    Statue of Ben Milam in Milam, Texas
    Statue of Ben Milam on the square.

    "'Who will go with Old Ben Milam into San Antonio?'

    Ben Milam, for whom the county was named, is one of Texas' legendary heroes, losing his life in San Antonio early in Texas' battle for independence." - Lou Ann Herda

    20th Century Cameron

    Although cotton was the town's 19th Century economic engine, the 20th Century brought more diversified industries. Williamson County had discovered oil in 1915 so Milam County began their own exploration. It paid off in 1921 with "the Minerva-Rockdale field."

    The building of the Alcoa aluminum plant in the 1950s revitalized the local economy, but recent environmental concerns have dampened enthusiasm.

    Cameron lost its rail connection to Giddings in 1959 when the Texas and New Orleans railroad pulled out of Milam County and the Southern Pacific (in 1977) abandoned the rails connecting Cameron with Rosebud.
    Milam County jail - viewed from the courthouse
    Another view of the jail - viewed from the courthouse.

    TE Photo

    Cameron Landmarks/Attractions

  • Milam County Courthouse
    The 1890 courthouse has been restored in recent years and the entire top (which had been removed as a hazard) has been replaced with an accurate (but lightweight) replacement.
  • Milam County Jail
    The former jail is now in use as the Milam County Historical Museum.
  • Cameron Pioneer Cemetery
    Just east of town across the Little River is the Pioneer Cemetery - where earlier residents are interred. The city cemetery is now close to downtown, a stone's throw from the courthouse and jail.
  • Besides a collection of murals on downtown walls, there are also a few advertising artifacts. These Coca-Cola signs were painted over a five-county area by "Eddie and Monk" - when Cameron had its own Coca-Cola bottling works.
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  • Coca Cola ghost sign in Milam, Texas

    Ghost sign just east of the square.

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    More Ghost Signs
    Oil tanks in Cameron, Texas
    Grain bins east of town

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    Horsemen mural in Cameron, Texas
    One of Texas' longest murals.
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    Milam County Towns and Ghost Towns
    County Seat - Cameron
    Milam County Courthouse
    Milam County Jail
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  • 1920s Milam County Texas map
    1920s Milam County map
    Courtesy Texas General Land Office
    Masonic globes, downtown, Milam, Texas








    Masonic globes downtown

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