Discover Austin: The Round Rock - Episode 42

I'm in the suburb of Round Rock, located to the north of Austin. The origin of the city's name is very literal, find out exactly where it comes from in this episode of Discover Austin.  If you'd prefer to read about Round Rock, the transcript can be found below the video.

Other Discover Austin topics mentioned in this episode: Round Rock Donuts and Dell Diamond.

Greetings!  I’m Craig Smyser with RE/MAX Capital City.  I’m just north of Austin in the city of Round Rock.  We’re going to step back in time to find out how this suburb got its name on this episode of Discover Austin.

Round Rock, Texas, is a city of around 100,000 located almost 20 miles north of downtown Austin.  It’s the headquarters of Dell, home to the Round Rock Express, and, of course, the only place to get Round Rock Donuts.  But how did it get its name?  Well, back in 1851, when the population was around 250 people, a post office was established requiring the postmaster to come up with a name.  He chose Brushy Creek which was the name of the creek that ran alongside town.  As it turns out, though, another postmaster in Texas named his town Brushy Creek so in 1854, the postmaster, Thomas Oatts, had to come up with another name.  He chose to name it after a landmark in Brushy Creek.  One that designated a low water crossing point for horses and wagons – the Round Rock.  The rock itself is made of limestone and really is quite round. 

The round rock is located next to present day Chisholm Trail Road just west of Interstate 35.  The creek bed is easily accessible and you are certainly welcome to wade out to the rock itself, though it can be a bit slippery. You may find people fishing nearby or simply enjoying the walking path alongside the creek.

The rock hasn’t changed for over 150 years, but the area surrounding the rock has.  In the several decades after the towns founding, several bridges were built and washed away.  Several of the early buildings nearby burned down.  In fact, when the railroad came through in the late 1870s, it ran about a mile east of the round rock.  That’s not much distance in the city today, but back then, the town pretty much moved to be closer to the railroad leaving the area around the round rock mostly abandoned.  The area came to be known as old Round Rock and today is simply referred to as the Old Town section.

The Chisholm Trail was a well-known route to take cattle from south Texas up into the Midwest for sale.  The trail crossed in this low-water point right next to the round rock.  It was such a well-traveled trail that wagons left ruts in the creek bed that are still visible to this day.  Nearby is the 1.5 acre Chisholm Trail Crossing Park.  It has a series of bronze sculptures that celebrate the Chisholm Trail and depict life at the time.  Local sculptor Jim Thomas was commissioned to create the series and more sculptures will be added to the park in the future.

So take some time to visit not just the Round Rock, but also neighboring Chisholm Trail Crossing Park.  I’m Craig Smyser with RE/MAX Capital City.  Thanks for joining me for this episode of Discover Austin.

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