All the Wiser: Draco derailed by the DP&S

By Joy Burgess-Carrico | Published Saturday, March 9, 2019
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Draco map

DRACO MARKER – An historical marker sits on the site of the former town of Draco, eight miles southwest of Paradise. Map from atlas.thc.state.tx.us

Vern Smith asked via Facebook: “Draco, how big was it in its boom days? Is there any information on why it’s gone?”

Draco was a town in Wise County settled in the early 1880s. Originally, is was originally called Tylerville – or Tylerwater, according to the historical marker in the field where Draco once existed. However, the “Texas Almanac” claims Draco was first called Tyler Springs. Whatever Tyler-version it began with, the name was changed to Draco when it was granted a post office in 1883.

Joy Burgess-Carrico

Why was the name changed? There is no existing record to answer this, but, according to the Wise County Historical Society, it is believed that the name was in honor of someone named Drake, who lived nearby.

Maybe that is the case, but there is a place in Williamson County that was originally called Draco by the local Indians. The name means “favorite place.” Draco was also a figure in Ancient Greece that codified the first laws. If you’ve heard of something being “draconian,” that is a reference to him and his harsh laws. Draco is also Latin for serpent or dragon. There is a constellation called Draco. And a nearby guy was apparently named Drake. Theories abound.

The community had two churches, both Baptist, a school that taught through grade eight, a general store, a blacksmith shop, a public well, cotton gin and horse racing track. There were two or three in-town homes, but most of the residents lived on the farms surrounding the town.

In terms of how big it was, voting records for prohibition give us some idea. In 1885, 66 people voted (25 for/41 against) in Draco. In 1902, 49 people voted (29 for/ 20 against). In 1904, 40 voted (32 for/8 against).The town was declining by the turn of the century.

The post office was discontinued in January 1889. There is a brief notice in the Jan. 26, 1889 Messenger simply stating it was ordered discontinued and mail moved to Cottondale.

In March 1889, the Messenger stated the people of Draco “expect to hear the snort of the iron horse echoing along the valley of Garrett’s creek in the near future.” Railroad men were camped along the newly located line ready to begin work as soon as ordered to do so.

The Dallas, Pacific and Southeastern Railroad planned to use Draco as a stop on its route from Dallas to Albuquerque.

Work on the railroad path began by April 10, and people began predicting that the town would boom once the train came to town.

Due to lack of funds and stiff competition, the DP&S ceased its construction, and no train ever ran.

Draco kept going for almost 40 years, though.

In 1933, the school was consolidated with Paradise, and in 1937, the last remaining building was moved.

And Draco was no more.

I found no direct proclamation as to why Draco didn’t make it, but I think the railroad failure is a likely reason. Other towns in Wise County suffered when the train didn’t choose them, and the towns in existence today can usually be found on some old train schedule.

So, I think it’s safe to say the railroad failed Draco and Draco failed.

Joy Burgess-Carrico is a Messenger graphic artist. Email her at jcarrico@wcmessenger.com with your questions.

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