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CLYDE, TEXAS. Clyde is an incorporated community on Interstate Highway 20 and Farm Road 604, five miles west of Baird and eight miles east of Abilene in northwestern Callahan County. The site is on the Callahan Divide between the Brazos and Colorado rivers; its elevation is 1,980 feet above sea level. The Texas and Pacific Railway was built through the area in 1880. Local sources have it that the railroad construction crew, which numbered 5,000, including many Chinese, gathered regularly at Robert Clyde's construction camp, just south of the tracks. Settlers moved in to the area, and the post office for the new community was commissioned in June 1881. In 1883 several Irish families moved to Clyde from Pennsylvania. Also around that time a group of Portuguese traveled to the area by the railroad and established a colony in the vicinity of Clyde; this colony was abandoned about 1900. A school and churches were formed at Clyde and met in local homes. A Methodist church organized at the community in 1884 and built a church building in 1904; a Baptist church began meeting in 1885 and built a church in 1907; a Catholic church was built in 1890, destroyed by Clyde's first tornado in 1895, and was later rebuilt. The local Church of Christ organized in the late 1880s and built its first building in 1904. Clyde had a population of 459 in 1910, some 610 in 1920, and 750 in 1925. At that time the town's forty-five businesses included five grocery stores, five dry goods stores, two banks, two drugstores, and two gins. In 1924 the transcontinental Bankhead Highway was routed through Clyde, facilitating faster transportation to nearby Abilene and consequently slowing Clyde's growth.
Clyde is built above an aquifer, and in 1926 its fruits and vegetables earned it the nickname "the California of Texas." Farmers often shipped their produce out by rail. Cattle and horses were raised on the area's abundant grasses. Oil production started about 1924 and through the 1980s continued to help diversify and stabilize the local economy. Clyde has had several bouts with severe weather. The bitterly cold winter of 1884–85 was followed by drought in 1886–87; later droughts occurred in 1930–36, 1949–57 (the longest), 1983–85, and in the summer of 1988 (possibly the worst). Clyde has also had several destructive tornadoes. The first one, in 1895, destroyed the Catholic church. On June 10, 1938, a tornado ripped through Clyde from the north, killing fourteen persons and destroying twenty-one homes and many other buildings, most notably the school. A freight train was also derailed. Temporary classes were held at the local churches. A third tornado, on April 28, 1950, killed five persons and destroyed four homes. The fourth twister, a less destructive one, struck east of Clyde on June 7, 1989.
The first newspaper for the town was named the Clyde News. The Clyde Enterprise was published from 1912 to 1950. A few other papers lasted briefly. The Clyde Journal began in 1972 and was still serving the area in 1989 as a weekly publication. By 1980 more rapid growth at Clyde had resumed. The census that year listed 2,562 residents, but according to the utility and telephone companies there were about 7,500 people in the Clyde area. It had become the largest town in the county. The post office doubled its capacity in 1987. For many years the public schools had been growing, and the town supported many churches. In the early 1990s Clyde had a population of 3,022 and some 130 businesses. By 2000 Clyde's population had grown to 3,345 with 211 businesses.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:Mrs. John Berry, "An Excessive Land," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 62 (1986). Brutus Clay Chrisman, Early Days in Callahan County (Abilene, Texas: Abilene Printing and Stationery, 1966). S. E. Settle, "Early Days in Callahan County," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 12 (1936).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Mrs. John F. Berry, "Clyde, TX," accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgc09.
Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.