Houston and Texas Central reaches Austin
On this day in 1871, the Houston and Texas Central Railroad reached Austin, making the city the westernmost rail terminus in Texas. The completion of the first railroad to the capital city marked a new era in Austin's development. As the only railroad town for scores of miles in most directions, Austin was transformed into a trading center for a vast area. Construction boomed and the population more than doubled in five years. Although a second railroad, the International-Great Northern, reached Austin in 1876, the town's fortunes turned downward after 1875 as rival lines traversed the region and diverted much of Austin's trade to other towns. Austin's expectations of rivaling other Texas cities for economic leadership faded, though the city solidified its position as a political and educational center.