Gainesville in 1891
Gainesville continued to grow in the years between Augustus Koch’s visit in 1883 and Thaddeus Fowler’s in 1891, due partly to the arrival of two additional railroads: the Santa Fe in 1886 and the Gainesville, Henrietta and Western Railway in 1887. Almost 6,600 persons called the city their home by 1890, perhaps double the population of 1883. Unlike some communities that suffered when the trail drives came to an end, Gainesville also continued to grow because of its location on the rim of the Great American Desert. Prairies suitable to raising cattle were to the west, and good, rich farmland was to the east, putting Gainesville in a position to profit from the increase in the price of cotton. The growth of this industry is evident in the view, with mills and compresses clearly indicated.
Gainesville had been established on a slight rise between the Elm Creek and Pecan Creek tributaries of the Trinity River. Fowler pictured the city from the southwest, with Elm Creek bordering the city’s western side (shown in the lower left-hand corner) and Pecan Creek draining the area east of the railroad and flowing southward toward its confluence with Elm Creek south of town. He did not emphasize the railroads, as Koch had done, focusing instead on important civic and religious structures, mills, factories, and other businesses. He also added an inset in the lower right-hand corner to document growth that had taken place along Lindsay Street and the Santa Fe railroad, which otherwise would not have appeared in the view.