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Colorado County, Central Texas South

29 35' 16" N, 96 19' 48" W (29.587778, -96.33)

Highway 90A and FM 102
16 miles SE of Columbus the county seat
38 miles E of Hallettsville
66 miles SW of Houston
26 miles NW of Wharton
ZIP code 77434
Area code 979
Population: 3,777 Est. (2019)
3,639 (2010) 3,664 (2000) 3,551 (1990)

Eagle Lake Area Hotels › Columbus Hotels

Eagle Lake TX Islands
Islands in Eagle Lake
Photo Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library # 01682

History in a Pecan Shell

Like Gertrude Stein said about Oakland (California, not the Texas town in Colorado County) - "When you get there, there's no there there." If you're traveling to Eagle Lake expecting to see a lake - you might want to bring a tall step ladder. There is indeed a (1,400 acre) lake there - and it is indeed called Eagle Lake, but it's private property. A smaller lake called Lower Lake sits below Eagle Lake - also privately owned.

The town dates from 1821 when scouts of Stephen F. Austin reportedly killed an eagle here. There's also a colorful legend about an Indian chief's daughter and two handsome suitors, but it sounds fanciful when compared to the more probable naming by Austin's scouts.

In March of 1838 land along the lake was granted to one Patrick Reels. Two others held previously issued grants along the lakeshore. In the 1850s Gamaliel Good acquired most of the land and then sold 600 acres to DeWitt Clinton Harris, who sat on the board of the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway.

The two became partners and planned a town here. Situated between Austin and prsent-day Houston, it couldn't miss. The railroad arrived just prior to the Civil War. After the war, when the railroads were expanding all over the state, Eagle Lake became a railroad crossroads. The Cane Belt, San Antonio and Aransas Pass, Southern Pacific and later the Santa Fe all had a presence in Eagle Lake. The Santa Fe depot still stands - as a privately owned building.

Sugarcane was a cash crop after the Civil War and the planting of rice was introduced in the 1890s. The mills have been long gone, but grain elevators and rice dryers are still present - although several are vacant. The town remains popular with hunters who come for the ducks and geese.

Eagle Lake Vintage Photos
Eagle Lake Today - Photo Gallery

Eagle Lake TX - Eagle Lake City Park, Postmarked 1909
Eagle Lake City Park, Postmarked 1909
Click on image to enlarge
Old Photo courtesy Dan Whatley Collection

Eagle Lake Vintage Photos:

Eagle Lake Texas parade float
Parade Float in downtown Eagle Lake
Photo Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library # 01619

Baby Eagles Rhythm Band, Eagle Lake Texas 1941
"The Baby Eagles" Rhythm Band c. 1941
Photo Courtesy The Nesbitt Memorial Library #01950

Eagle Lake High School Band  Eagle Lake Texas vintage photo
Eagle Lake High School Band
Photo Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library # 1707

Eagle Lake Texas first day of school 1935 photo
First Day of School 1935
Photo Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library # 01793

Eagle Lake Rod and Gun Club, Eagle Lake Texas
Eagle Lake Rod and Gun Club "Courtesy Vehicle"
Photo Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library # 01629

Eagle Lake TX Alligators c1910
Alligators c1910
Photo Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library # 01204
See Texas Animals

Eagle Lake TX Rice Milling  Co.
Rice Milling Co.
Photo Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library # 00211

Historical Marker: Main & Commerce Sts., Eagle Lake

Rice Culture in Colorado County

The rice industry did not spread into the coastal plains region west of Houston until the very end of the 19th century. In 1898, Captain William Dunovant (1845-1902), a local plantation owner and entrepreneur, planted 40 acres of rice at the southeast corner of Eagle Lake (2.5 miles south) as an experiment, using convict labor from a nearby prison farm to construct levees and harvest the new crop. The small tract produced such encouraging results that in 1899 Dunovant built a pumping plant on the lake and irrigated 250-300 acres. The second venture proved so successful that over 30,000 acres of rice were under cultivation in the Colorado River Valley in 1900, and over 56,000 acres in 1901, mostly in Colorado County.

Rice quickly replaced cotton and sugar cane as the primary cash crop in Colorado County. That the crop had a widespread economic impact was reflected in the increase in property values, the influx of new families, the reclamation of abandoned croplands, the rise in new railroad construction, and the rapid development of allied service industries, such as rice mills and irrigation and canal companies. Rice and the culture it supports continue to be a major economic factor in Colorado County.

Eagle Lake, Texas Today:

Eagle Lake Depot Museum
Photo courtesy Ken Stavinoha, May 2016
More Texas Museums

Eagle Lake Depot Museum
The former Santa Fe Depot in Eagle Lake now houses a museum.
This is an updated image of the restored building.
- Ken Stavinoha, www.eaglelakedepot.org, November 24, 2016

Eagle Lake Tx Depot
The former Santa Fe Depot in Eagle Lake
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
More Texas Depots

Eagle Lake Tx Depot
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
See Texas Railroads

Eagle Lake Tx Caboose Museum
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009

Railroad Interlocking Tower 115, Eagle Lake , Texas
"Abandoned, but still standing in November, 1996, Tower 115 in Eagle Lake sits silently as an eastbound Southern Pacific freight rumbles by on the Sunset Route headed for Houston. The tower was razed shortly after this photo was taken." -
Photo courtesy Jim King
See Railroad Interlocking Towers of Texas

Eagle Lake, Texas Grain Elevators
Abandoned elevator near Eagle Lake
TE photo, December 2003
More Texas Grain Elevators

Snow Goose - by Roger T. Moore

Take a road trip
Eagle Lake, Texas Nearby Towns:
Columbus the county seat
See Colorado County

Central Texas South

Book Hotel Here:
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