Flatonia Southern Pacific Tower (1902-1996)
|Motto: "Where All Roads Lead"|
Flatonia is a town in southwestern Fayette County, Texas, United States. It is located on Interstate 10 and the Southern Pacific Railroad, twelve miles west of Schulenburg. The population was 1,380 at the 2010 census.
Flatonia was established on April 8, 1874 on land that the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway acquired from William Alexander Faries (the family name is also spelled Ferris and Farris). The community, originally made up of Anglo American settlers, was named after F. W. Flato.Residents placed their homes in the former Flatonia settlement, one mile southeast of the current Flatonia, and Oso, Texas, three miles northeast, on wagons and moved to the new location. The post office, established in the former Flatonia in 1870, moved to the new Flatonia with the same name. Flatonia was incorporated on November 10, 1875 and held its first election on December 6 of that year. In 1878 the town had 800 residents and an economy dependent on cattle and cotton.
The location of the railway and inexpensive real estate led to the arrival ofArab, Bohemian, German, Greek, and Italian immigrants in several waves. The north-south line of the Waco branch of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway opened in the mid-1880s, leading to new settlements ofMuldoon and Moulton. Competition from the settlements, respectively north and south of Flatonia, and an agricultural depression damaged Flatonia's economy. By 1900 Flatonia had a significant population decrease.
During the first half of the 20th century Flatonia's prospects increased and decreased according to the national economy and cattle and cotton markets. In 1950 Flatonia had 1,024 residents, 50 businesses, and a wide farm and ranch service area. In the 1960s cotton no longer was a substantial aspect of the area economy; therefore many area farms began to ranch cattle. During that time the population was between 1,000 and 1,500. Interstate 10 (I-10) opened in the 1970s, leading many tourist businesses to move fromU.S. Highway 90 to I-10, one mile north of Highway 90. In 1985 Flatonia had six businesses. In 1990 Flatonia had 1,295 residents.
Many in Flatonia are of German and Eastern European heritage. The local "Czhilispiel" festival is named for Czech peopleknown for their popular chili.
The abandoned Flatonia Railroad Tower, in use from 1902 to 1996, was one of Texas' longest standing, manually-operated railroad switching towers with North-South and East-West cross rails. The tower was damaged in an automobile accident on Jan. 9, 2014.
The E. A. Arnim Archives and Museum has a collection of antique furniture, household items, clothing and historical documents used by the early settlers of Flatonia. There is a livery stable behind the museum with wagons, buggies, and vintage tack and farm implements.