Home     Sitemap     Contact Us

History of Bastrop, Texas
BASTROP, TEXAS, is the county seat of Bastrop County, and was first occupied in 1804, when a fort was established at the strategic Colorado River crossing of the Old San Antonio Road and named Puesta del Colorado.

The Baron de Bastrop obtained permission from the Spanish to found a German colony and selected the site in 1823, but subsequently failed to establish a settlement. The town was probably named Bastrop by Stephen F. Austin in honor of the Baron, a longtime friend and coworker.  Austin, interested in developing the upper reaches of his original colony, used this name after the German colonization attempt failed and he obtained permission in 1827 to locate a "Little Colony" of 100 families on the site.

The town was incorporated under the laws of Texas on December 18, 1837. The community then comprised of a courthouse, a hotel, a stockade, a gunsmith shop, a general store, and a number of residences.  With farming, the timber industry provided a mainstay for the local economy from 1836 to 1860.  The Lost Pine Forest, the westernmost stand of the eastern pine forest and the only timber available in what was then western Texas, contributed to the economy.
In 1839, when Austin became the capital of the republic, Bastrop began supplying the City with lumber.  Soon, ox teams were carting Bastrop lumber to San Antonio, along the western frontier, and into Mexico. Fire destroyed most of the downtown buildings in 1862, but flood posed an even greater threat.  A flood of area creeks in 1869 forced evacuation of  the town as waters rose as high as forty-six feet.   Periodic inundations continued to plague the area until dams were built in the 1930s.  Despite natural disasters, the period during and after the Civil War saw the rise of varied industry in Bastrop.

The population peaked at about 5,000 during World War II, after the establishment of nearby Camp Swift.  When the camp gradually closed after the war, Bastrop shrank to 4,000, then 3,158 in 1950.  Industries in 1947 included a pecan-shelling plant, a cedar-chest factory, and a cedar-oil manufacturer.  From 1950 through the 1970s Bastrop’s population ranged between 2,950 and 4,050.  The 1980s brought new challenges for the community as Austin grew eastward.  Austin sewage polluted the Colorado, and strip-mining began pressing from the east.  In the mid-1980s the town had a population of almost 4,000. In 1990 the population was 4,044.

Residents had restored many historic buildings, and commuters from Austin lived in Bastrop.  As a consequence of the town’s proximity to Austin, land values soared.  Bastrop remained a center for agribusiness; its industries included oil-well supply and furniture manufacturing.
The preceding History of Bastrop, Texas is taken from The New Handbook of Texas published by The Texas State Historical Association in 1996.

Copyright © City of Bastrop  2016. All rights reserved.

powered by  ezTaskTitanium  TM