Pearland, TX and Its Intriguing History
Beginnings as a Texas Railroad Town
Like many towns in the Midwest, Pearland, Texas’s early history was shaped by the railroad industry. It likely would have never come to be if the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railroad company hadn’t decided to build a railroad connection between Houston and Galveston, Texas. Construction began on this railroad in 1882. The site where Pearland came to be, in modern-day Brazoria County, was a sliding switch on the railroad. When a post office was located here, a little town grew up around this junction that was originally named Mark Belt. This was the name of a local landowner who was instrumental in sorting the mail that came through the town on its way to Galveston. Mark Belt remained a small community for the next several years until 1892.
The Land Boom of Pearland, TX
In August of 1892, a rich Polish aristocrat by the name of Captain Withold von Zychlinski was given a large amount of land in the area adjacent to Mark Belt. He parceled out 520 acres around the railroad switch site and put J.R. Jeter in charge of selling the land and forming a more substantial community.
In May of 1894, Zychlinski filed a plat of the area with the local government, giving the development the name of “Pearland.” This is thought to be because in an effort to make the land more attractive, a plethora of pear and other fruit trees had been planted in the area making it literally a “pear-land”.
When Jeter failed to sell as much land as he had been contractually obligated to, much of the land was contracted to the Southern Homestead Company in an effort to attract more settlers. The town was advertised as a great place to get away from the snow and grow pears. In 1894 the first railroad station was built in Pearland, which really helped the settlement to take off.
Living and Growing
The railroad continued to prove vital to the area’s growth and development. The railroad brought new settlers in and also allowed farmers to sell their crops to distant markets. The town faced a setback when a hurricane badly damaged the area in 1900. However, this was counteracted by a second boom in 1910.
In this year, the Allison-Richey company began a fierce advertising campaign that suggested that Pearland, TX was the perfect place to grow oranges commercially. It was boasted to be an “Agricultural Eden”. This backfired slightly when there was a major freeze and many of those tropical crops died. Yet again this was remedied when the town was rebranded as perfect for growing another crop: figs. Many different crops have been grown in this versatile town over the years.
As it is well-known, the great railroad system of the 19th and 20th centuries soon became overrun by automobiles and other forms of transportation. By 1972 the railroad depot was no longer in use, and it was ceded to the city, which raised enough funds to move the building off the railroad company’s land for its own use. Now, this historic building is home to the Pearland Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Pearland Area Chamber of Commerce. This building still stands to this day as a reminder of this agricultural town’s rich and intriguing history.