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Bartlett, Texas: A Town Stopped in Time & Memorialized in Film

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The town of Bartlett, Texas is a place you want to get yourself to if you like history, Texas movie trivia, or the concept of being in a place that looks like it came from a 19th-century artist-rendered postcard. A few families still make the town their home, however many of the buildings along its town square and commercial strip stand just the way they did back in the town’s heyday, only without all the hustle and bustle. The architecture has such appeal that the town became the filming location for many a movie and TV show, and you’ll recognize scenery in the background from such films as ‘The Stars Fell on Henrietta’ and “The Newton Boys.”

Bartlett, Texas: A Town Stopped in Time & Memorialized in Film

Photo: Facebook/Lone Star Back Roads

Bartlett officially became a town when the Katy Railroad began to survey in 1881, although for 30 years previous, early settlers had inhabited the area. Town lots were sold that same year, and the railroad reached the town by 1882. At the time, there were two stores operating there, and a post office soon followed. By 1884, the town’s population was approximately 300, and it became established as a cotton shipping point. Due to the town’s growth, there also came a cotton gin, a hotel, a grocer, a school, and a butcher, and in 1890 the town incorporated, was thriving, and had two weekly newspapers as well as a bank.

Bartlett, Texas: A Town Stopped in Time & Memorialized in Film

Photo: Facebook/bfullerfoto

By 1909, a railroad from Bartlett to Florence was planned, which became named the Bartlett Western. This was a large step in the town’s development, bringing with it new economy, and in 1914 the town grew to a population of over 2,000. At this point, there came additional banks, more cotton gins, and four churches, however, the decline of the cotton sector during the Great Depression and beyond forced the town’s railroad into bankruptcy by 1935. The town lost a quarter of its businesses and ten percent of its population. Bartlett’s population dropped to an all-time low in 1988, and has only slightly rebounded since, however its long and wide business blocks of buildings which were built while the town was booming remain to this day. “The Newton Boys,” “The Whole Wide World,” and scenes from NBC’s “Revolution” were filmed in Bartlett, along with a number of Texas truck commercials. It’s a quaint old town with friendly families and a history that gets brought into our living rooms on an infrequent but fondly remembered basis, and it’s a place in Texas you should make your way to at least once, if not for these reasons, then for posterity.


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