Leander, on U.S. Highway 183 in southwestern Williamson County, was established in 1882 after the Austin and Northwestern Railroad bypassed Bagdad, a mile to the west. That year Bagdad merchants began moving their businesses to be near the railroad; additional moves were made when the railroad company began selling lots at the new townsite on July 17, 1882. The new community was named Leander. Williamson County histories have credited railroad official Leander Brown as the town's namesake, but more than likely, the community was named after Karl Leander, station manager for the Austin and Northwestern Railroad. It was accepted practice at that time to name a railroad station after its station manager. The town grew rapidly, and a number of businesses were established there. Wesley Craven and J. Sampley soon built cotton gins at the community. Ranching increased, and cedar fenceposts were sold locally and shipped around the state. Doctors, lawyers, and a bank were soon established in the community. A Masonic lodge furnished the only free school in the area from 1870 until June 1899. The Leander High School Association, incorporated under the laws of Texas on June 27, 1899, was formed without profit for a period of fifty years. Shares sold for ten dollars each. The school grew through consolidation with the Pleasant Hill school in 1928, Round Mountain and Volente in 1938, and White Stone in 1952. Little changed in the community until the late 1950s and early 1960s, when housing subdivisions began to develop in the area. It grew more rapidly in the 1970s, and additional school buildings were built. Churches were either enlarged or rebuilt. In 1978 Leander citizens incorporated their town; Joe Bates was its first mayor. Leander is in the Austin metropolitan area and in the 1980s and early 1990s continued to grow rapidly. Its population grew from 329 in 1890 to 2,700 in 1983. In 1990 it was reported as 3,398. The population was 7,596 in 2000.