The village of Salado, between Austin and Waco on Interstate 35, is a very historic community that emphasizes an interest in the arts, education, natural beauty and scenic attractions. The longest continually operating hotel in Texas, the Stagecoach Inn, is in Salado, and the hotel is known for its excellent restaurant and historic setting. Salado is also proud to have eighteen of its oldest buildings included on the National Register of Historical Places and twenty-three Texas Historical Markers.
Salado was not incorporated until the year 2003, and the town boasts a population of just under 5,000 residents. Salado was founded in 1859 on the Old Military Road crossing of Salado Creek, and was originally an agricultural and industrial center. Salado College operated in the community until 1895, and was considered a very prestigious school at the time. However, when the railroad built tracks to the east and north of the town after the decline of the cattle trade, which was a thriving industry in Salado since the Chisholm Trail ran directly through Salado, the population began to decline.
In the mid-1900s, a revitalization of the city began, when Salado Creek was designated the first recorded Texas Natural Landmark in 1966, and the city developed an interest in an arts community based on historic businesses and homes. Two of these businesses were the Central Texas Area Museum, constructed in 1959, and the Stagecoach Inn and its famous dining room, which had always retained a following of loyal customers.
Salado, which is currently known as the Best Art Town in Texas, began the incorporation process around the year 2000, when the residents of the town became concerned about annexation from nearby Belton. Incorporation of the city ended 120 years of local history with no official town government, during which time the town flourished by catering to the tourist trade and affiliated businesses, which included 2 hotels, 2 blacksmiths, 7 churches, and 14 stores, along with a Masonic Lodge, in 1884.
Today, Salado has about 130 small businesses, many of which are art-related, and is also known for its UIL academics in the public schools, which are administered by the Salado Independent School District. Salado is the home of the academic team named the Salado Eagles, which won a five year streak of academic titles, and is also proud of their excellent sports program which includes the Salado Baseball Team, which won the State Championship in 2008, as well as Salado High School's 2008 victory in the Lone Star Cup.
Salado has been home to many notable residents over the years, including authors Liz Carpenter and A. C. Green, and Texas governors James Ferguson and Miriam “Ma" Ferguson, among others, including the infamous outlaw Sam Bass.
Today, Salado offers residents and visitors many choices for lodging, including hotels, bed and breakfast inns, and R. V. campgrounds, including the Stagecoach Inn, a Residence Inn by Marriott, a La Quinta Hotel and a Holiday Inn Express. Some of the amenities of the historic Stagecoach Inn include 82 guest rooms and four town homes at Mill Creek Golf Course, and the award-winning restaurant, which specializes in prime rib and other delicacies. Other choices for diners in Salado include the Ambrosia Tea Room and Browning's Courtyard Café, and the Range at Barton House, among many others.
With its unparallel historic pedigree and natural beauty, as well as its numerous amenities and opportunities for shopping or just strolling down Main Street, Salado is a sure-fire place to visit!
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