Silver Lake, on U.S. Highway 80, Farm Road 1255, and the Missouri Pacific Railroad, near the Smith county line eight miles northeast of Canton in northeastern Van Zandt County, was settled as early as 1845, when John Jordan surveyed and secured title to thirty square miles covering the salt flats along the Sabine River. The townsite was established in 1873 as a stop on the Texas and Pacific Railway, which built a depot at the site. G. W. Rive established a store that year. The town was named for a small nearby lake, which in turn was named either for its silvery appearance or for the story that Indians or Mexican armies hid silver in it between 1832 and 1836 to prevent its capture by the Texas army. Grenville M. Dodge, chief engineer of the Texas and Pacific, purchased land for the community on May 7, 1874, and surveyed and filed a plat on March 5, 1875. A post office operated in Silver Lake from 1874 into the 1930s. A Grange was founded by 1876, and the Farmers' Alliance established a local group. A local school was opened by 1890 and had an enrollment of forty-three in 1904. It was annexed to the Grand Saline Independent School District in 1952. The population of Silver Lake climbed to eighty by 1914, and a general store and several local businesses developed, but by 1936 only a few dwellings were at the townsite. The development of nearby coal mines attracted workers in the 1930s. The population was fifty in 1940. From 1974 through 2000 it was estimated at forty-two. In 1988 the community had a post office, a cemetery, several businesses, and scattered dwellings.
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.
Diana J. Kleiner | © Texas State Historical Association
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