Tivoli is at the intersection of State highways 35 and 239, near the mouth of the Guadalupe River in northeastern Refugio County. It was founded by rancher and entrepreneur Preston R. Austin in 1907 and named after his Tivoli Ranch. Austin and his partner, Jesse C. McDowell, had previously established a large cotton gin and commissary nearby. In August 1907 surveyor J. W. Ward platted a townsite of five blocks. In 1913 L. A. Gueringer replatted the townsite and added five more blocks. Among the earliest buildings in the town was the Catholic church built and donated by Austin around 1908. He also donated the town's first school about the same time. A post office opened in 1912 with M. M. Landgraf as postmaster. During the first few years of the town's existence most of the freight and passengers bound for Tivoli came by way of the Guadalupe River, two miles north. In 1912, however, a branch of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway was extended through Tivoli, and the settlement began to grow rapidly. The town emerged as a shipping point for area cotton farmers and ranchers in the fertile, coastal blackland country. By 1914 Tivoli had an estimated population of 400, two general stores, a bank, a drugstore, a blacksmith, a hotel, and telephone service. By 1928 it reached a peak population of 700. With the onset of the Great Depression and the decline in the cotton industry in the early 1930s, however, many residents moved away, and by 1933 the population dropped to 350. It was 500 in 1940, where it remained steady. In 1990 Tivoli had a population of 540. The population reached 550 in 2000. Principal industries include ranching, oil and gas, and tourism.