GRAPELAND, TEXAS. Grapeland is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 287 and Farm Road 227, twelve miles north of Crockett in northern Houston County. In the early decades of Houston County the Grapeland area was a crossroads on the route from Crockett to Palestine. The home of an early resident near the intersection served as a mail drop for settlers in the area. The original settlement took the name of Grapevine from the wild fruit that flourished in the region’s sandy soil.
The name was changed to Grapeland in 1873, when application was made for a post office. In 1872 the Houston and Great Northern Railroad Company completed its line through the area and turned over a 640-acre tract to the New York and Texas Land Companyqv for development as a townsite. The community grew quickly as a railroad depot and commercial center for local cotton producers. By the first decade of the twentieth century Grapeland had five general stores, two cotton gins, several mills, a hotel, a newspaper, and various other enterprises. In these years the town’s population exceeded 400. A fire razed fifteen businesses in downtown Grapeland in 1913, but the town promptly rebuilt in brick. It has been incorporated since 1924.
Cotton production and ranching were the basis of initial growth in the community, and forestry is important in the local economy. The population approached 1,200 in the 1920s and remained near that figure through the 1960s. Cotton declined in importance to the area economy and after World War IIqv peanuts replaced it as the primary agricultural product. After 1936 oil and gas production became another important source of income for the town. Local manufactures include a steel fabrication plant. Growth in the 1970s and early 1980s resulted in a population increase of more than 35 percent; in 1990 the population stood at 1,450. The population increased by one to 1,451 in 2000. Since 1945 Grapeland has celebrated an annual Peanut Festival. A fiddler’s contest that was part of the original “Goober Carnivals” has become the Labor Day Bluegrass Festival.
Grapeland is known locally as the “queen city of the sand flats.”
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