Introduction to Waco, Texas
The Texas city of Waco, county seat of McLennan County, is located in the center of the Texas manufacturing and technology corridor, about 90 miles south of Dallas and 100 miles north of Austin. Sitting along Interstate I-35, the city is serviced by several secondary thoroughfares which include U.S. Routes 77 and 84; and Texas State Highway 6. Waco is the home of Baylor University and the city where the Dr. Pepper soft drink was first established.
Named after the area's first inhabitants, the Huaco Indians, Waco began as a village which didn't take shape until 1849, when surveyor George B. Erath laid out its first streets. In 1856, Waco became incorporated as a city, and by the 1870s became a hub of commerce for the state of Texas with the arrival of several railroad lines. In 1886, Baylor University relocated to the city from Independence, Texas, merging with Waco University. By the turn of the century, Waco had established itself as one of the world's leading producers of cotton. In more recent times, Waco made the news as the site of a 1993 shoot-out claiming the lives of six members of the Davidian cult and four agents of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). A 51-day standoff ensued, culminating in a fire which destroyed the Davidian compound located in Mt. Carmel, near Waco.
Attractions in Waco
One of the largest municipal parks in the state is Waco's Cameron Park, a favorite for visitors who enjoy outdoor recreation such as picnicking, hiking, canoeing and more. Nearby is the Cameron Park Zoo, a natural-habitat zoo which houses dozens of species from around the globe. Located in downtown Waco is RiverSquare Center, a collection of restored warehouses which date back to 1900 and now feature a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and shopping. Other popular attractions in Waco include the following:
- Dr Pepper Museum: Home of the world's oldest major soft drink contains a replica of the drug store where Dr Pepper was invented.
- Art Center Waco: Hands-on activities for the kids of all ages.
- Texas Sports Hall of Fame: Interactive displays and exhibits on sports of all types.
- Mayborn Museum Complex: Features themed discovery rooms.
- Armstrong Browning Library
- Homestead Heritage
- Lake Waco
- Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas
- Ranger Wing Of The Commemorative Air Force
- Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum
- Waco Suspension Bridge
Waco is home to a semi-pro football team, the Waco Thunder. The Thunder compete in the Texas United Football League, which is comprised of over 32 Texas teams. Waco is also home to a professional minor league basketball team. The Waco Wranglers played their inaugural season in 2006-2007 as part of the American Basketball Association (ABA) and will join the United Basketball League (UBL) in 2008. Fans of collegiate sports can root for the Baylor Bears, who play in the NCAA's Division I as members of the Big 12 Conference.