The city of Austin, the state capital, is known as the live music capital of the world. It is home to many music festivals, including South by Southwest (SXSW) and the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
McLennan County, located in central Texas, has a rich and diverse history that dates back to the early Native American tribes who inhabited the area. The first European explorers and settlers arrived in the late 1600s, primarily Spanish explorers searching for new lands and resources in Texas. In the early 19th century, Anglo-American settlers began to arrive, and the area soon became part of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas.

The county was officially established in 1850, named after Neil McLennan, a Scottish settler who played a significant role in the colonization of the region. The county's initial economy was primarily agricultural, with cotton, corn, and livestock becoming major industries. In 1870, the completion of the Waco Suspension Bridge, one of the first bridges to span the Brazos River, bolstered the county's growth and connected it to the expanding railroad network.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, McLennan County experienced periods of rapid growth and development. The city of Waco, the county seat, became a prosperous center for commerce, education, and culture. With the establishment of Baylor University in 1845 and the creation of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in 1968, Waco gained a reputation as an educational and historical hub. The county also played a significant role in the development of the Texas oil industry, as numerous oil fields were discovered and exploited in the early 20th century.

Despite its prosperous history, McLennan County faced challenges as well. It witnessed racial tensions and violence, particularly during the Civil Rights era. One of the county's most infamous events occurred in 1993 when an armed standoff between federal agents and the Branch Davidians religious sect resulted in a tragic fire at their compound near Waco, leaving many dead. However, the county has shown resilience, with ongoing efforts to address social issues and promote economic development, making it a vibrant and evolving community.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of McLennan County, Texas.

  • 1837 - McLennan County is established as a county of the Republic of Texas
  • 1849 - Waco, the county seat, is founded
  • 1860s - McLennan County experiences rapid growth with the expansion of the cattle industry and arrival of the railroad
  • 1874 - Baylor University is relocated to Waco
  • 1886 - The Texas Cotton Palace Exposition is held in Waco to showcase the county's cotton industry
  • 1916 - A tornado devastates downtown Waco, causing significant damage and loss of life
  • 1930s - McLennan County suffers during the Great Depression, but also sees some economic improvements through New Deal programs
  • 1951 - The Waco VA Hospital is established, providing medical care for veterans
  • 1993 - The Branch Davidian standoff occurs in Waco, resulting in a tragic fire and loss of life
  • 2015 - McLennan County celebrates its 150th anniversary