ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

When Cotton Was King-The Waco Texas Cotton Palace

Updated on July 19, 2014

Just imagine it.

In 1890, Waco was larger than Dallas, Ft. Worth and El Paso.

Waco owes it's explosive growth to several things. One of which was the famous Waco Suspension Bridge , the largest single span bridge in the United States . Another contributing factor to Waco's population was the Waco Tap Railroad which tapped into the Houston and Texas Central Railroad from Houston to Dallas .

Cotton, known as "white gold" in those days, soon became the most important factor in determining Waco 's future. The invention of the steel breaking plow allowed planting in the rich Blackland prairie. Farmers from a hundred miles away would bring their cotton to Waco to be ginned. This lead to cotton buyers springing up with offices in Waco and they began shipping cotton by train to port cities like Galveston and New Orleans, to then be shipped on to Europe , South America and India.

By 1884, with about 12,000 people living in Waco, an estimated 50,000 bales of cotton, 900,000 pounds of wool and 500,000 pounds of hides were being shipped annually through Waco.

With other cities hosting fall festivals, a group of Waco residents wanted to find a way to capitalize on this influx of commerce and have a little fun doing it. An idea was born.

Cotton Palace
Cotton Palace

The Cotton Palace Exhibition in 1894

In 1894, Waco residents raised the money to build an exposition hall with seating for 5,000. On November 8, 1894 , Texas Governor James Hogg was guest of honor on opening day of the month-long Cotton Palace Exhibition. This first event included a parade, agricultural exhibit, amusement area, orators, and musicians. It drew in visitors from all over the state and was a huge success.

However, just six weeks later, tragically, the building burned.

Location of Waco, Texas
Location of Waco, Texas

Population Growth Stats for Waco

  • In 1859 - 749 people
  • In 1870 - 3,008 people
  • In 1880 - 7,295 people
  • In 1884 - about 12,000 people
  • In 1890 - 14,445 people
  • In 1900 - 20,686 people
  • In 1914 - about 35,000 people
  • In 1930 - 53,848 people

Rebuilding the Cotton Palace

In 1910, the Texas Cotton Palace was re-established and the building re-built. There were separate buildings for automobiles, poultry, cotton, flowers, and machinery exhibitions.

Each year the exhibition became more elaborate. Costumes for the event were made in New York and France. Debutantes from all over the state came to Waco to compete for the Queen and her court. They crowned the King and Queen annually.

The Great Depression era saw smaller crowds (only 350,000 in 1930) at the Exhibition and the 1930 exhibition saw rain that kept the crowds away. The Clay Street Texas Cotton Palace closed on October 19, 1930. That location had seen 8 million visitors. The annual record of visitors was in 1918 when they had 547,242 people attend. November 3, 1923 holds the single day record of 117,208 visitors.

In 1970, the Texas Cotton Palace was once again revived by residents of Waco and still operates annually.

Today's version of The Waco Cotton Palace is an energetic stage production that recounts the history of Waco . The colorful two-hour stage show features local residents who use drama, song and dance to chronicle the history of Cotton Palace.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • johnb0127 profile image

      johnb0127 8 years ago from TX

      Haha, your welcome. Texan helpin a Texan :)

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 8 years ago from Central Texas

      I might do a separate hub for that type of good eatin'...thanks for the suggestion actually, John!

    • johnb0127 profile image

      johnb0127 8 years ago from TX

      Great! Maybe I will! Are you going to include the Czech Stop?

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 8 years ago from Central Texas

      LOL....don't just drive through next time, John! Stop off and stay awhile. I'm working on a "Where to Eat in Waco" hub. :)

    • johnb0127 profile image

      johnb0127 8 years ago from TX

      Great hub on Waco! I have driven through Waco many times and its a great little town. Go Baylor! Haha, great hub!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)