Mackay, on U.S. Highway 59 four miles west of Wharton in central Wharton County, was established in 1881 as a station on the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway and named after one of the investors, John W. Mackay, who made his fortune from mining silver in Nevada. Many of the investors, related by marriage, chose to name the stations on the ninety-one-mile railway after themselves. This station site fell within Abel H. (Shanghai) Pierce's holdings on the west side of the Colorado River. The area was later known as the A. P. Borden farm. Borden was Pierce's nephew and general manager for the Pierce Ranch. In 1907 the United States Department of Agriculture established an experimental farm in the area, planting oriental tea and camphor trees. Water came from the pumping plant built on the Colorado by the Pierce Ranch. Russian and Chinese laborers were brought in to work the experimental farm sections. Borden, who was a highly successful rancher and rice farmer, built a mercantile store for his employees, as well as homes for them across from the store in Pierce and later in Mackay. He also built a school for the children in 1912 and later gave it to the county for a common-school district. The Wharton Independent School District annexed the school in 1953. Mrs. Borden had her husband build a church for the employees in nearby Pierce, and there she taught Sunday school and health and hygiene. After Borden's death in 1934 the farm and all of the structures in the Mackay community were sold to Johnny B. Ferguson, an oil wildcatter. In 1949 oil was discovered on the farm, and Ferguson moved his Superior Drilling Company into the former mercantile store. His famous racing quarter horses, Go-Man-Go and Top Deck, put Mackay "back on the map." In March 1990 these two horses and Ferguson were inducted into the Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. After Ferguson's death in 1978 the area declined, and by 1990 all of the structures were abandoned or gone. In 1967 the city of Wharton purchased from Ferguson eighty-nine acres to build a public airstrip, Wharton Municipal Airport, one-half mile west of Mackay. The air strip increased its holdings in 1980 to 120 acres. Mackay had a post office for six months in 1885. In 1922, when Borden retired from the Pierce Ranch, he built a large home at Mackay, from where he ran his 5,000-acre farm. Mail service was renewed between 1921 and 1937 with Borden as postmaster. The 1940 census lists Mackay with a population of twenty. Two small cemeteries were located in the area for the Chinese and Russian workers.

Continue Reading

Merle R. Hudgins | © TSHA

Handbook of Texas Logo

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Mackay is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Mackay is classified as a Town


Latitude: 29.26997120
Longitude: -96.14968290

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated