Hutto is a city situated n Williamson County, Texas, and it is a part of the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area. Hutto is a town that has a neighborly charm, and it is just 30 miles away from downtown Austin and other popular destinations such as Pflugerville, Round Rock, and Georgetown. Hutto is hailed as the Hippo Capital of Texas, and its historic downtown has several unique restaurants, shops, and even a self-guided hippo tour. At this point, you may be wondering why hippos? Then worry no more because we are here to tell you all about it.
Hutto was founded in 1876 when the International-Great Northern Railroad passed through land owned by James Emory Hutto, hence the community’s name. James Emory Hutto was born in 1824 in Alabama, and he moved to Texas in 1847. Eight years later, he moved with his family to Williamson County. When Hutto was founded in 1876, a slave, named Adam Orgain, was the first person to live in the Hutto vicinity after being placed out on the Blackland prairie by his owner.
In 1876, James Hutto decided to sell 50 acres of his land to the Texas Land Company of New York to make a townsite and a railroad right of way. This made Hutto a wealthy cattleman in Williamson County. However, Hutto left the community in 1885 and went to Waco, where he decided to enter the hardware business. Other early settlers of Hutto were the Carpenters, Evans, Highsmith, Goodwin, Davis, Farley, Magle, Wright, Womack, Saul, Payne, and Johnson family. In the 1890s, families such as the Ahlberg’s, Armstrongs’, Hugh Kimbro, Tisdales moved to Hutto. Soon several other people, mainly Swedish and German immigrants, moved to the area to farm and ranch to begin their new lives in America.
What’s With the Hippos?
As we mentioned earlier, Hutto is known to be the Hippo Capital of Texas. The most popular local myth about this is that a circus train stopped in Hutto in 1915 to pick up and deliver mail, take on passengers, water, and fuel for the steam locomotive. The circus train workers took the downtime as an opportunity to care for the circus animals. At some point during this layover, a hippopotamus accidentally got out of a rail-car and ran to the nearby Cottonwood Creek, which is located next to the rail line.
The accident caused much alarm for the circus workers. Merchants and local farmers merchants amusingly and with interest watched what happened as unsuccessful efforts were made to take out the hippopotamus from the waters of Cottonwood Creek. The accident led the Depot Agent to alert nearby communities of Taylor and Round Rock, which were both eight miles east and west of Hutto, to stop the trains because there is a hippo loose in Hutto.
After many several attempts, the hippo was finally nudged from the water and mud, which similar to its natural habitat, and it was put back onto the train car. After what happened, the Hutto school decided to make the hippopotamus as its mascot. And in 1923, the hippo started to attend official Hutto High School graduation announcements. From then on, Hutto became the only community in the whole United States to use a hippo as its mascot.
Today, businesses and residents of Hutto proudly flaunt their hippo spirit. Several concrete hippos can be seen throughout Hutto. Reports say that there are about 3,000 real hippos scattered in the community. Most people like to paint their hippos to match with their home or business design.