Marble Falls, TX ... for a weekend, or a lifetime.™
Marble Falls, Texas is one of 45 cities/areas located in the Texas Hill Country. Known as The falls, the town was used as a landmark by travelers who referred to it as the "great falls" or the "marble falls" of the Colorado River as early as 1817. It is nestled 47 miles northwest of Austin and 85 miles north of San Antonio, in the middle of the Highland Lakes area, the largest chain of lakes in Texas.
Charles S. Todd attempted to establish a town at the falls in 1854. Several lots were sold, but few people built homes there. "Todd's village" faded before it ever really got started, and Todd's land was sold for taxes in 1880.
Meanwhile, in 1854, Indian fighter and confederate general, Adam R. "Stovepipe" Johnson, a former Confederate States Army General, viewed the natural marble falls and panoramic countryside, and fell in love with it. He was a visionary and saw the river being a source of energy. When he went off to Kentucky in 1864, his native home, he fought in the American Civil War where he tragically losing his eyesight. He later returned to Burnet County and formed the Texas Mining and Improvement Company (TM&I) with nine investors. By 1886 Johnson had succeeded in buying half of the property and controlling the remaining portion of the original Baker grant, including the falls area. TM&I ran the operations of the Marble Falls for several years. Town lots were advertised for sale in July and Marble Falls was then officially founded on July 12, 1887.
The town sits on the banks of Lake Marble Falls. The falls were formed by a shelf of limestone running diagonally across the river from northeast to southwest. The upper layer of limestone, brownish on the exterior but a deep blue inside, was so hard and cherty it was mistaken for marble. The falls were actually three distinct formations at the head of a canyon 1.25 miles long, with a drop of some 50 feet through the limestone strata. The natural lake was covered when the Colorado River was dammed with the completion of Max Starcke Dam in 1951. Lake Marble Falls sits between Lake LBJ to the north and Lake Travis to the south. The falls for which the city is named are now underwater but are revealed every few years when the lake is lowered.
Equally noteworthy is the huge igneous batholith called Granite Mountain looming on the towns' western edge. The famed pink Granite Mountain secured Marble Falls' place in Texas history and was used for the construction of the Texas State Capitol, the Galveston seawall and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
The Austin and Northwestern Railroad built an extension to Marble Falls from Granite Mountain in 1889. A post office was also established that year with Robert Charlton as postmaster. By 1890 the community had Methodist and Baptist churches, a cotton gin, a gristmill, a tannery, a shoe factory, three general stores, a hotel, a weekly Gazette, and 400 to 600 residents. Population estimates reached 1,800 by 1896. Marble Falls Alliance University was chartered in 1892, but it was in operation only a few years; its facilities were purchased by the public schools when an independent school district was established in 1908. The first city officials were elected in 1907, when a mayor-alderman form of government was instituted. In 1917 the all-male voting population of Marble Falls elected Orphelia (Birdie) Crosby Harwood the first woman mayor in the United States. Some improvements to the city, such as paved streets and electric street lights came in the late 1920s; others, such as sewer systems, had to wait until after the Great Depression and World War II.
1940 - 1,021
1960 - 2,161
1970s - 2,209 (& 94 Businesses)
1980s - 3,252 (&210 Businesses)
1990s – 4,007 (&218 Businesses)
2000 - 4,959 (& 817 Businesses)
With mild, fairly dry climate and hot summers and vast lake resources, Marble Falls is a popular vacation destination for water sports enthusiasts, boaters, fishermen, campers, and hunters. With 10,000 in population over a 7 mile radius, Marble Falls is going through a period of prosperity and growth despite a small chance of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and occasional flooding. In the winter, Marble Falls enjoys an occasional snowfall.
In 1871, the legislature authorized the building of a dam near Marble Falls to power a milling and manufacturing establishment, but nothing came of the project. The Marble Falls Cotton and Woolen Mills Company built a factory in 1895. However, its owners were unable to raise capital to purchase necessary machinery.
Later in 1910 the project was again attempted, but it wasn’t until 1925 the Marble Falls Textile Mills Company, used electrical power supplied by the dam. In 1935, the dam was used by Insull Companies to supply power to the Hamilton Dam project.
Construction of the Max Starcke Dam in the early 1950s, which formed Lake Marble Falls, was the demise of the natural falls.