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SANDOW, TX

SANDOW, TEXAS. Sandow is a mining community on Farm Road 1786 eight miles southwest of Rockdale in southern Milam County. At one time the site was a stop for mule drivers hauling freight from Matagorda. Freezeout, as the drivers named the community, had a trading post, a quarter-mile racetrack, and several saloons. A post office opened there in 1873 and was named Millerton in honor of Emil Miller, who had given land for a school. Millerton became a voting precinct in 1874. Its post office closed in 1876, reopened in 1889, and was finally discontinued in 1891, when mail was routed through Rockdale. Millerton had a one-teacher school for forty-two students in 1903; the school was incorporated with the Rockdale Independent School District in 1949. In 1918 the Federal Fuel Company, which owned a lignite mine at Millerton, began construction of a six-mile railroad to connect the mine with the International and Great Northern line at Marjorie. The fuel company soon went bankrupt, however, leaving the railroad unfinished. When the McAlester Fuel Company took over the operation in 1922, it renamed the town Sandow, after a famous strongman then being promoted by Florenz Ziegfeld. Construction of the Rockdale, Sandow and Southern Railroad was completed in 1923. For twenty-five years the Sandow mine provided lignite to several plants in Texas, including the central heating plants at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, the San Antonio Public Service plant at New Braunfels, and the Texas Power and Light plant at Trinidad. The abundance of cheap natural gas, however, undermined the lignite industry during the 1930s and 1940s, and in 1950 the mine at Sandow closed. In 1951, after the development of a process by which lignite could be dried and carbonized to produce a cheap fuel, the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) decided to locate a large plant near Sandow; the Sandow Power Plant used lignite to generate electricity for Alcoa. Though the new business brought a much-needed economic boost to the region, Sandow did not develop as a commercial or residential center. Most of the employees of the Alcoa plant lived and shopped in Rockdale. The Alcoa facilities were all that marked Sandow on the 1988 county highway map. No population estimates were available.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Lelia M. Batte, History of Milam County, Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1956). Milam County Heritage Preservation Society, Matchless Milam: History of Milam County (Dallas: Taylor, 1984). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Rockdale, Texas).

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, "SANDOW, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hts03), accessed November 27, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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