Dryden is in Thurston Canyon on U.S. Highway 90, Farm Road 1217, and the Southern Pacific line, in south central Terrell County. In 1882 the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway built its tracks through Terrell County, and a section house was established at the new community, which was named Dryden for Chief Engineer Eugene E. Dryden. The Dryden community became the headquarters of the Pecos Land and Cattle Company in 1884. That company and several other open-range ranches shipped cattle from the Dryden station in the late 1800s and early 1900s. By 1886 W. W. Simonds, manager of the Pecos Land and Cattle Company, had built a large frame building for a post office and a store, which was operated by John Abney. The remaining rooms were used for storage and sleeping. The company built two adobe houses near Simonds's structure as residences for the Simonds family and for the family of ranch foreman Daniel Franks. The company drilled a plentiful water well, which supplied the town. Dryden received a post office in 1888. In 1889 Beverly Carter Farley came to work for the Pecos Land and Cattle Company, remaining there until the company was sold in 1895. Farley then took up eight sections of land in the Dryden area. By 1908 he had built the Dryden Hotel and a store, which he operated. In 1912 Farley bought the section of land that held the town and donated land for a school, which also served as a church and as a community center. From 1913 to 1917 the Mexican revolution and the possibility of border raids brought two units of United States Army troops to Dryden. Though the local citizens may have feared a border raid, they were accustomed to Mexican visitors. Mexican ranchers drove their cattle across the Rio Grande for shipment from Dryden to the San Antonio market. Several of those ranchers received mail and shopped for supplies in Dryden because it was more accessible than neighboring Mexican villages. In 1917 the Block Y Ranch also began shipping cattle from Dryden. The company settled several families there and built homes and headquarters offices. The 1920s brought new businesses to Dryden, and its population reached 100 by 1929. But in the 1930s, during the Great Depression, the railroad moved its crews and closed its depot. The large surrounding ranches broke up. The advent of the automobile and good roads allowed ranchers to travel to larger towns for supplies. By the early 1930s Dryden had fifty residents and three businesses. Its population grew again, however, reaching 100 by the end of the 1940s and staying at that level until the early 1960s, when the town still reported two businesses. From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, Dryden had fifty residents and two or three businesses, which served a population including tourists and fishermen. From the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s the population was forty-five, and by 1988 it had dropped to thirteen. In 1990 the community had a post office and an estimated population of thirteen. A general store still operated at Dryden in 1995. The population remained thirteen in 2000.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Julia Cauble Smith | © Texas State Historical Association
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