Colorado County, one of the Republic of Texas's original counties, was formed in 1836 and organized a year later. Members of Stephen F. Austin's original 300 colonists settled here in 1823 along the banks of the Colorado River at the site of a former Native American village. River navigation was replaced by railroad transportation after the Civil War. The Texas Rangers were organized here in 1823 for protection against Native Americans and outlaws, and in 1872 Gail Borden (surveyor of Houston and inventor of the process of condensed milk) opened the first meat-canning plant west of town.
The north and west sides of the courthouse square are largely intact, with an exuberant collection of commercial building facades of a variety of heights, materials, and parapet shapes. U.S. 90 runs through town and crosses the Colorado River. Along this old highway are excellent examples of gas stations from each decade of the early twentieth century.
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