Salado is a picturesque, historic village on Salado Creek just east of Interstate Highway 35 between Waco and Austin in southern Bell County. The clear, bubbling springs of the creek, which made it a favorite camping ground for Indians thousands of years before Spanish explorers arrived in Texas, have had much to do with the development of the area. Salado Creek was the first designated Texas natural landmark in 1966. The first permanent Anglo-American settler at Salado was Archibald Willingham in 1850. In 1852 a post office was established when a stage line with terminals at Waco and Austin began a weekly run, more than a half dozen years before the town was laid out. From its founding to the present, Salado has been associated with a quest for learning and an interest in the arts. The town was founded directly as a result of the establishment of Salado College. In October of 1859 Col. Elijah Sterling C. Robertson, son of empresario Sterling C. Robertson, offered to donate land north and south of the springs to a corporation to sell stock, build a college, and lay off the land into lots for a town to be called Salado. Salado prospered as an educational, industrial, and agricultural center. A series of eight flour and grist mills were built on Salado Creek. The Salado Masonic Lodge was organized in 1867, and by 1890 it had provided two grand masters to the Grand Lodge of Texas, Maj. Archibald Johnson Rose and George W. Tyler. In 1873 the first Grange in Texas was organized at Salado. In addition to helping the farmers economically, the Grange encouraged social interchange, wider reading, and more communication among the agriculturalists, who were confined physically by the routine of farm life. Two societies sponsored by Salado College added to the cultural life of the community. The Euphradians, a men's debating group, gave its members their first training in public speaking. The Amasavourian (a coined word meaning "love of knowing") Society provided women with weekly meetings at which they read and discussed books and papers, presented plays, and raised money to begin a circulating library. After the railroads bypassed Salado, trade declined, and the college (which had been supported by tuition fees) was forced to close. From 1890 to 1913 the former college building was occupied by the Thomas Arnold High School, a private academy founded by Samuel J. Jones, a former president of Salado College. Among its graduates were historian Charles W. Ramsdell and Edgar E. Witt, later lieutenant governor of Texas. The population of the town steadily dwindled until it was around 200.

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.

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Salado by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Pop. Year Source
2,394 2020 United States Census Bureau
2,096 2019 Texas Demographic Center
2,126 2010 United States Census Bureau
3,475 2000 United States Census Bureau
1,216 1990 United States Census Bureau