History of Dripping Springs
Eight years after Texas became a part of the United States, three American families from Mississippi decided to make their home in this beautiful part of the Texas Hill Country. Following the road that carried supplies to Fort Martin Scott, the U.S. Army fort in Fredericksburg, they stopped their wagons to form a frontier settlement in the winter of 1853 amongst the area’s rolling hills, rock-bottom streams, majestic views, and abundant wildlife.
Even though earlier settlers had been farming in the nearby valleys of Little Barton and Onion Creeks in the early 1850s, it was the “Old Three” — the Pound, Moss, and Wallace families — who helped bring Dripping Springs to prominence. John Moss became the new settlement’s first postmaster in 1857, necessitating a town name. His wife Nannie is credited with officially naming it for the lush, fern-covered, limestone ledges on a branch of Dripping Springs that dripped water.
Then a known gathering place for the Tonkawa Indians, this spot today is situated in the heart of Dripping Springs, near the west end of Mercer Street, the town’s historic main street. Located 30 miles from Austin, the capital of Texas, Dripping Springs is a place where the history and heritage of early Texas lives on. The “Gateway to the Texas Hill Country,” Dripping Springs is surrounded by the scenic natural beauty and wonderful attractions of the area — historic homes and sites, museums, antique shopping, world-class barbeque, vineyards, state parks, nature preserves, lakes and rivers, rolling hills, and magnificent live oak woodlands.
Rich in history, a number of the older, interesting buildings and homes still exist in Dripping Springs. Providing a peek into the last century and a half of life in Texas, these places and times help to tell the story of who we are today. The Dripping Springs Historic Preservation Commission and other preservation-minded citizens are pleased to present this heritage with hope that the spirit of our pioneers, founders, and their families will live on. Early settlers here found a place of abundance: water from bounteous springs; woodlands and limestone rock for log cabins and stone homes; and fish and wildlife for food. Rocks, cleared from farmed fields, were even used to build rock fences.
Although there were homes and businesses scattered about over the years, Dripping Springs would actually be born in 1881 when W. T. Chapman established a 12-block city plan. The resulting growth included a school, a hotel, mercantile stores, blacksmith shops, a livery stable, a stagecoach stop, a steam engine-powered mill, and cotton gins. During the next century, most livelihoods came from farming and ranching. Though there were difficult and often financially perilous challenges, the settlement’s location on the Austin-Fredericksburg Road helped it survive.
Businesses adjusted as the mode of transportation changed with the arrival of a Stanley Steamer automobile in 1915. After that, it was garages instead of blacksmith shops, gas stations in lieu of livery stables. The coming of electricity in the late 1930s also made other changes possible. Further transformations took place with the modernization of Highway 290 in 1958, including the loss of many of the beautiful rock fences which were purchased and used by the highway crews for the new roadbed. Highway 290, was formerly Mercer Street, the narrow main street of Dripping Springs.