Stamford is a city in west-central Texas. It is on the border of Jones County and Haskell County. In 2010, there were 3,124 people living there, which was down from 3,636 in 2000. In 1900, Henry McHarg, who was president of the Texas Central Railroad, gave the place the name for his hometown, Stamford, Connecticut, where he grew up.
Stamford can be reached via both State Highway 6 and U.S. Route 277. Jones County contains the majority of the city. The portion of the city located inside Jones County is considered a component of the metropolitan area encompassing Abilene, Texas.
Swante Magnus Swenson’s family donated the town its land. Mr. Swenson pioneered the arrival of Swedes to Texas. By 1860, he had amassed over half a million acres in West Texas, making him one of the state’s largest landowners (202,343 hectares). The ranches, located across 12 different counties of Texas, eventually became known as the SMS Ranches. It was renamed Swenson Land and Cattle Company and had its Stamford headquarters to this day. Eric Pierson Swenson and Swen Albin Swenson, the sons of Mr. Swenson, ran SMS Ranches and started a program to breed Morab horses not far from the city.
Mr. Swenson subsidized the travel expenses of Swedish immigrants in exchange for their labor in Texas. The Swenson brothers convinced Texas Central Railroad CEO Henry McHarg to build on their property in 1899. In 1900, the brothers established Stamford and donated 640 acres to the city (259 hectares). Swedish settlers arrived and established a presence in the area. The Swenson brothers sold large areas of the property to many of the new cotton farmers who settled there. Swenson is the name of Stamford’s main thoroughfare.
Stamford is situated in west-central Texas, inside the American Southwest. It is located 41 miles (66 kilometers) north of Abilene, 132 miles (212 kilometers) west of Fort Worth, 137 miles (220 kilometers) east-southeast of Lubbock, and 160 miles (257 kilometers) due west of DFW Airport. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.9 square miles (33.5 km2), of which 6.9 square miles (18.0 km2), or 53.85%, is water and 5.9 square miles (15.4 km2) is land.
The city-owned Lake Stamford is located around 10 miles (16 km) northeast of the city center. The lake was established in 1953 when Paint Creek in Haskell County was dammed. Lake Stamford is the municipal water source for the city of Stamford and many nearby communities and rural water suppliers. Moreover, the lake offers recreational fishing and boating.
Landmarks & Attractions
Texas Cowboy Reunion Rodeo
The Texas Cowboy Reunion is known as the “World’s Largest Amateur Rodeo.” It is a gathering of working cowhands and rodeo cowboys. The first TCR was held on June 26, 27, and 28, 1930. There were 98 cowboys who competed in four competitions. The most popular sport was calf roping, but it was closely followed by wild-cow milking, steer riding, and bronc riding. During three days, 12,000 people attended the rodeo. The event gained in popularity throughout the years.
The Texas Cowboy Reunion is still a tradition that lives on to this day, and it happens every year over the Fourth of July weekend. Matched Horse Races, Women’s Breakaway Roping, and Steer Wrestling are just some of the new events that are being added.
Centennial Cowboy Statue
A figurative public sculpture made of steel depicting a cowboy on a rearing horse with a charging steer. They are standing in the center of railroad tracks. The artwork honors the two industries that contributed to the city’s foundation: agriculture and railways. This statue of a Texas cowboy stands in front of the Stamford City Swimming Pool on West McHarg Street.
Stamford Golf & Country Club
The Stamford Golf & Country Club, built in the 1930s, is famous for being where former Masters champion Charles Coody developed his game. The fairways are flat and tree-lined, and the landing areas are large. In the 1990s, a new irrigation system was installed, making the conditions more ideal. This picturesque course is a joy to walk, which is good since no carts exist. Stamford GCC features a nine-hole golf course, a swimming pool, tennis facilities, and a clubhouse with a ballroom and a bar. It is located at 7228 Golf Course Road, off Adams Road.
Just across Harmon Park, you can find metal sculptures of dinosaurs bigger than life, like a millipede, a dinosaur skeleton, and a praying mantis. An artist and mayor, Johnny Anders, created the 22-foot-tall T-Rex and other dinosaurs out of junk auto parts.
The Stamford Carnegie Library, which opened more than a century ago, continues to uphold the fundamental principles of Andrew Carnegie’s vision while going above and beyond by combining age-old enlightenment ideas with contemporary concepts. Residents of all ages have free, equitable access to the Library’s safe, vibrant environment that promotes lifelong learning.
At the corner of East Hamilton and Orient Streets are a playground, walking trail, sand volleyball court, and duck pond. Harmon Park is the largest of Stamford Texas’ parks spanning 11.2 acres. It is a great spot to take a breather, go for a stroll, or even get in a fast run before heading to work. Harmon Park in Stamford is a wonderful place to spend time with loved ones, providing both green space and places to sit.
The man-made Lake Stamford is eight square miles in size. It provides Stamford with water and functions as a recreational resource for Stamford and adjacent villages. Fishermen and boaters are common observers. Lake Stamford parks offer picnics, fishing, and boating.
Swenson Land & Cattle Co.
In 1927, the Swenson Land & Cattle Co. established its main office in Stamford. Swen (Svante) Magnus Swenson (1816–1896) was a businessman and the first Swedish person to settle in Texas. He rented his west Texas land to his sons in 1882, who then formed a business partnership called Swenson Brothers. By 1885, they had 1800 Shorthorn and 180 Indiana pure crossbred Hereford-Shorthorn cows with a unique reversed (SMS) cattle brand that is still used today.
MacKenzie Trail Monument
At the intersection of Highway 6 and the 277 by-pass, is a 48,000-pound limestone sculpture. Descendants of early ranchers created this big memorial to describe the historic Mackenzie Trail and what it meant to area pioneers in the late 1800s.
Museum of the West Texas Frontier
The Museum of the West Texas Frontier in Stamford is overseen and administered by the City of Stamford. Located in the heart of Texas’ cowboy country, its supporters are passionate about preserving the image of the Old West and highlighting the cowboy.
The museum’s permanent collection includes paintings by Tom Ryan, Wayne Baize, and Bob Moline, as well as sculptures by William Moyers and Jim Hamilton and a display of historical artifacts, thanks to the museum board’s original plan, which called for commissioning outstanding Western artists.
A new addition expands on Stamford’s history with exhibits featuring Ray and Tommie Rector, United States Congressman Charles Stenholm, Elvis Presley, antique medical equipment and town doctors, veterans and military, police and fire departments, and Stamford’s numerous Texas State Championship-winning football teams.
It is situated next to the City Hall on East McHarg Street, and was once an inn where Elvis Presley slept when performing at the Texas Cowboy Reunion. The Stamford Inn was built in 1900 and stayed open until it burned down on Christmas Eve, 1924. Once the Inn closed, the property was repurposed as a nursing home, and then as a private club. The structure has been idle since the early 1980s. One of Stamford’s haunted sites, so the legend goes.
Swenson Ranch Commissary
This building, built in 1900, was the main place where supplies for the four big Swenson ranches in west Texas—Tongue River, Spur, Throckmorton, and Flat Top—were kept. The utilitarian structure was built of Lueders stone and stood next to the railroad tracks. Supplies were unloaded from trains and put in storage until the various ranch foremen arrived in town to collect their supplies and exchange news. The structure provides a reminder of Stamford’s beginnings.
The Johnson House 1905 Bed & Breakfast
Curtis Johnson built the building on N. Swenson Street in 1905. This one-of-a-kind Queen Anne Architectural home is rare in West Texas and was one of the first erected in Stamford in the early 1900s. Since 2007, it has been hosted by the Stamford Preservation League. Its mission is to provide a welcoming environment for out-of-town visitors, and collect enough funds to preserve the historic importance of this site for future generations.
St. John’s Methodist Church
St. John’s Methodist Church was constructed in 1910 under the pastorate of Dr. Robert Goodrich. The church, with its 100-foot tower, served as the tallest church between El Paso and Dallas for a number of years. It is situated on the right when heading east on E. Hamilton Street (State Highway 6) at the intersection of E. Hamilton Street and S. Ferguson Street.