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Texas Brazos Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

POSTAL STATION TO STATE ICON, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY


Texas A&M University, perhaps one of the most recognized education institutions in the nation, owes its existence to the 1862 Morrill Act, a Texas Legislature-approved land auction that helped established an endowment for financing the state’s first institution of higher learning. Nine years later Brazos County saw the formation of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas on twenty-four hundred acres of donated land (courtesy of the county), resulting in the birth of a Texas icon. In the fall of 1876, Texas A.M.C. hosted its first students, 40 in total, all white males and all required to perform military duty in the college’s Corps of Cadets. Although the surrounding countryside saw very little mechanization, it certainly benefitted from the college’s agricultural end of things, a reality befitting almost all the state in the late 1800’s where rural farms and ranches prevailed. Although the nearby county seat, Bryan, served as an “urban” link for the college (where telegraph service had just arrived), the college required its own post office among the farm fields situated south of Bryan, thus “College Station” arose along the neighboring Houston and Central Railway tracks.

Like the surrounding community, Texas A.M.C. experienced a slow growth until the end of the Second World War when the G.I. bill made education affordable and available to many returning soldiers looking for ways to create a new life for themselves and their families in peacetime. But it wasn’t until the 1960s in which the college, together with the community (by now an integral part of the institution’s evolving character), saw its star rise. College president Major General James Earl Rudder, himself a member of the college’s graduating class of 1932, diversified the campus by allowing women and minorities to join the ranks of the student body. The action would dramatically change the college and its expanding community, helping to transform a provincial institution into a major force on the global stage. Changes also included an elevation to “university” status, and, although the initials remained the same, Texas A&M University would not. Today, the University occupies an important place in innovative research, including the creation of the first cloned domestic cat – CC. The diversity and strength of the University’s academia has also brought the surrounding community along with it, providing a healthy and enlightened environment for students and staff who arrive from around the world and from all walks of life. With over two thousand faculty members, over fifty thousand students attending annually, and over seven billion dollars in its endowment, Texas A&M University now lies at the heart of this once-rural Brazos Trail Region community.    

Learn more about the area here:  College Station

 


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