in a Pecan Shell
In 1873 as the International-Great Northern Railroad was laying track between
Hearne and Austin,
local businessmen sold 400 acres of land to the railroad to plat a townsite. The
town lots were auctioned in the fall of 1873 and the railroad arrived in early
1874. The honor of naming the new town fell to Mrs. B. F. Ackerman who named it
after a specific boulder said to be 20 feet in circumference and nearly 12 feet
The arrival of the railroad
made Rockdale Milam County’s first major railroad
connection. The population swelled to 1,700 by the mid 1880s.
coal was extracted from several area mines in the 1890s and in 1891 the San Antonio
and Aransas Pass Railway became the town’s second railroad. Coal mining became
more important to the economy with an estimated 7,000 ore cars leaving Rockdale
With the discovery of a (shallow) oilfield in 1920, lignite mining
declined and a refinery was built. After WWII
the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) opened a plant here – occupying most of
what was the town of Sandow, Texas.
2,300 residents in 1954, the population grew to 6,300 in four short years. In
1959 Rockdale’s north-south rail line was abandoned. Lignite mining continued
through the 1970s.
The population of Rockdale in the early 1960s was
around 4,500, growing to 5,810 by the late 1980s.
Hotels > Book Now
Sessions Perry by
temptation to look for George Sessions Perry's Rockdale can be strong because
few writers are linked in readers' minds with a hometown like Perry and Rockdale...
novel Hold Autumn In Your Hand which won the National Book Award in 1941, is still
the book for which Perry is best known. The book was made into a popular movie,
"The Southerner," starring Zachary Scott as Sam Tucker, the story's main character.
The book is often compared with Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck, with Perry's
book often getting the higher mark from critics... more
TE photo, May 2008
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