San Marcos, Texas (population 34,733) is located between Austin and San Antonio. The town was named after the San Marcos River and became the county seat when the Texas Legislature organized Hays County in 1848.
When the railroad arrived in 1881, the thriving town supported two banks, an opera house, and a variety of stores, saloons, and other businesses. In the 1900s, the economy of San Marcos was based on cattle and cotton production; today, with the expansion of Southwest Texas State University and the establishment of the Gary Job Corps Training Center in 1965, education has become the single largest employer in the city.
San Marcos recently developed the Dunbar Historic District, an area that was settled in the 1880s and was home to primarily African American residents after World War II. The district includes the old First Baptist Church, the Calaboose Museum, and the former Hays County Jail.
The city’s Belvin Street Historic District has fine examples of 19th century homes along streets shaded by huge live oaks, and Historic Downtown San Marcos, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, features art, gift shops and restaurants. The 1867 Charles S. Cock House museum, graced by a fountain, gazebo and memorial grove, offers Cottage Kitchen lunches to locals and tourists on Fridays.
The San Marcos Heritage Association conducts trolley tours on the first Saturday of each month, visiting various historic neighborhoods. Tour guides dress in period costumes.
Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2006.