The City of Cedar Park turns 45 years old this year! But the community existed long before it was incorporated as a city in 1973. For tens of thousands of years, on through the 1800s, Native Americans lived among our springs, creeks, caves, hills and rocky terrain. Evidence of Spaniards’ entrance into the area dates to the late 1600s.
In 1836, the Texas frontier defense force known as the Texas Rangers built and occupied an outpost just north of Cedar Park. Captain John J. Tumlinson and his men built a fort, which became known as Tumlinson Fort, Block House Spring, and Block House Fort. The Texas Rangers eventually vacated the fort and it was burned down by Comanches. After Texas’ independence was won, much of the land in the area was deeded to those who served in the military or helped provide war supplies.
Pioneers, primarily the Dodd, McRae, and Crumley families, came here in the 1840s and formed the communities of Running Brushy and Doddboro. Doddboro was eventually named Doddville, then Buttercup. Buttercup had a cotton gin, store, and post office.
The old Buttercup townsite is now under water behind the conservation dam just west of US 183 and Avery Ranch Boulevard.
New Hope Baptist Church was founded as part of the early settlement of the Cedar Park area. Originally situated at the head waters of Blockhouse Creek, services were likely held there as early as 1848---though it was not formally charted until 1868. It was rebuilt several times and is now located at US 183 and New Hope Road. The church’s cemetery holds more than 70 unmarked graves, along with many others with headstones that mark the names of well-known early residents of the community.
George Washington Cluck and his wife Harriet “Hattie” were founders of the community now known as Cedar Park. The Clucks arrived in Running Brushy in 1873, purchasing 329 acres situated at the head waters of Brushy Creek. The Cluck home was located on what would become the northwest corner of US 183 and Buttercup Creek Boulevard. The settlement had a post office, and in 1874, Hattie Cluck became the community’s first postmistress.
Much of the land around Cedar Park today was once part of the Cluck Ranch. The community was renamed “Brueggerhoff” after a railroad official, then in 1887, “Cedar Park.”
By then, the Austin and Northwestern Railroad ran through Cedar Park. Emmett had a store built on the east side of the railroad, and built his home near the store. When the Cluck Family sold to the railroad some land that was next to Emmett’s home, they stipulated that a portion of it be made into a park. The park was situated along the railroad tracks at what is now Brushy Creek Road. It is said to have been fully landscaped, complete with benches along walking paths. With its park, the bustling community also had a school/church, post office/store, railroad foreman’s house, and railroad depot, and became a popular weekend travel destination for Austin folks who wanted to visit “the country.”
Cedar Park: What’s in a name?
Cedar Park is appropriately named, as it not only had a “park,” but was also home to an abundance of mountain cedar trees. The trees, prolific throughout the region today, are not believed to be native to the area but are thought to have been tracked here by horses and other livestock moving through the area. Nonetheless, cedar posts became a popular industry here in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as settlers sought to fence their stakes of rural land with cedar posts and newly-invented barbed wire. George Cluck saw an opportunity and opened a cedar yard, where he made and sold cedar posts.
Pictured above: An ad for the Boatwright Cedar Yard, which sold cedar posts for barbed wire, an early photo from a limestone quarry in Cedar Park.
Cedar Park rocks!
Limestone and other rock have been quarried in the area since the early 1850s but the industry really took off in 1897, when Cedar Park became the heaviest freight loader between Austin and Llano. Cedar Park was also the only source in the United States for shell stone, which is found in many notable buildings throughout the country.
The railroad obviously played an integral part of the development of Cedar Park. Proud of our railroad heritage, Cedar Park is home to antique steam locomotive “Number 786.” While passenger service along the line was discontinued in about 1937, the Austin Steam Train Association provides weekend excursions from Cedar Park to the Texas Hill Country via the Hill Country Flyer. Visit cedarparkfun.com to book a ride.
Of course, this is brief synopsis of the community that is now known as Cedar Park. For more detailed historical information, visit williamson-county-historical-commission.org.
When Cedar Park was incorporated as a city in 1973 it had a population of around 700 residents. Today, Cedar Park is the third largest city in the Austin area, with a population of around 96,900 people living in our city limits and surrounding extraterritorial jurisdiction.
And while Cedar Park is just 17 miles from downtown Austin, more people are staying here to work. That’s because Cedar Park is attracting major employers and some of the most innovative high tech and cutting-edge companies in the world.
Cedar Park residents do not have to go far for quality medical care, either. In 2007 Cedar Park Regional Medical Center opened as a full-service hospital and medical facility and recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary.
Big city entertainment is right on our doorstep. Cedar Park Center opened in 2008 as a multi-use sports and performance venue that is home to the Texas Stars, the NHL affiliates of the Dallas Stars, and the Austin Spurs, the 2012 NBA D-League (now the Gatorade-sponsored NBA G-League) Champions and affiliates of the San Antonio Spurs.
Situated in both Williamson and Travis Counties, Cedar Park with its extraterritorial jurisdiction is 33.35 square miles. And true to the original stipulation that one of the first pieces of land feature “a park,” Cedar Park boasts more than a dozen cave preserves, 47 City parks and 22 miles of trails.
As we pay homage to our past and look with anticipation to the future, we revel in all we’ve accomplished as a City these past 45 years---helping to make Cedar Park the best place to raise a family!