Richland Springs: Then and Now

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Richland Springs, Texas is a quaint little town located in the northern part of the Texas Hill Country about 15 miles west of San Saba on Highway 190. Like many other Hill Country towns, Richland Springs was founded with the dream of new beginnings and prosperity for its settlers. The town did quite well, for awhile.

Richland Springs, TX was founded by Jackson J. Brown. He settled near the springs of Richland Creek with his family in December of 1854. However, they did not remain there on their own for very long. The Tankersley and Duncan families soon settled nearby. In the late 1850s, Indian raids became and issue, as they did in most new Texas settlements, and Fort Duncan was built in 1858.

Fort Duncan was what is known as a settler’s fort. It was comprised of four family cabins, which housed roughly 30 people. The families would stay at the fort from fall to spring, at which time they returned home to tend to their homesteads. While at Fort Duncan, a hunting party would go out into the wilderness for meat during the day while the remaining men would stand guard to protect the families within its walls. The fort remained in use until 1865.

In 1868, Brown School was built and settlers began flooding in throughout the 1870s. The first post office was housed inside the town store owned by Samuel E. Hays. Richland Springs became and agricultural town supported by the cotton industry, livestock, and grains. By 1890 there were 150 residents, a handful of business, a justice of the peace precinct, and a constable. Through the early 1900s, the town of Richland Springs continued to grow, adding a local newspaper, The Eye-Witness, in 1905, a bank, and a trunk line for the Gulf, Colorado, and the Santa Fe Railway in 1911. By 1932, the town boasted around 40 businesses and 500 residents. Then came the Great Depression.

While the Great Depression caused the towns growth to become stagnant, World War II seemed to reverse the effect the Depression had on the town of Richland Springs. Still more people opted to call the town their home and the population grew to about 600 by the early 1950s though business growth seemed to struggle. By the mid-1950s, a drought took hold of the community and crushed all hopes of continued business growth. The drought lasted three years and the Richland Springs’ economy hit rock bottom. The town’s population was cut by half, as were its number of local businesses. The bank failed and never recovered.

In the 1960s, some hope returned to the town thanks to local fruit and nut growers. Though local producers may have maintained the towns economy, they did not support it enough for a full recovery. In 1982 there were 420 residents and only five businesses. Today, Richland Springs is home to roughly 350 residents, an Independent School District (ISD), a post office, a couple of churches, a couple of restaurants, and a handful of small businesses. This little town may not reached the potential Mr. Brown and its other settlers had hoped for, but it did reach prosperity. Even if it was only for a short period.

Richland Springs / Once Upon A Town