Temple is at the intersection of Interstate Highway 35 and State highways 53 and 95, in northeastern Bell County thirty-six miles south of Waco and sixty-seven miles north of Austin. In 1880 Jonathan E. Moore sold 187 acres of his land to the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway to use for a construction camp. The site was called Temple Junction by the railroad company, in honor of Bernard Moore Temple, chief engineer of the railroad; local residents called the community Mud Town or Tanglefoot. When a post office was established there in January 1881, the official name became Temple. The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe held a sale of town lots in June 1881; there was a nucleus of railroad workers to begin with, and stores went up rapidly. In 1882 the Missouri, Kansas and Texas line was built through Temple, and the Santa Fe made the town a division point. The railroad shops added several hundred to the community population, which included doctors, lawyers, and merchants. Temple was incorporated in 1882, and by 1884 its 3,000 residents were served by three churches and a school, as well as two banks, two weekly newspapers, an opera house, a waterworks, and a wide variety of other businesses. The Santa Fe Hospital (see SCOTT AND WHITE SANTA FE CENTER) was established in Temple in 1891, King's Daughters Hospital in 1897, and Scott and White Hospital in 1904 (see SCOTT AND WHITE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL), making Temple one of the leading medical centers in the Southwest. Because of its railroad interchange and its medical facilities, it became the largest city in the county. Around 1900 it reported 7,065 residents; by 1930 this number had more than doubled, to 15,345. Local residents made several attempts to have the county seat moved to Temple from Belton, but these efforts failed. An interurban rail line, in operation between Temple and Belton from 1905 to 1923, helped facilitate travel to the county seat.
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