Leander Council briefed on plans for creation of Trail of Trains

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Bridget Brandt, the president of the Leander Chamber of Commerce, briefed members of the Leander Council Thursday on plans for the creation of a Trail of Trains in the city to celebrate Leander's founding as a railroad town.

Work is underway by the Chamber of Commerce to develop concrete works of art in the shape of steam engines to help commemorate Leander's establishment along the Austin & Northwestern railroad.  

"It will be something similar to the hippos in Hutto, or the boots in Wimberly," said Brandt. "These will be approved works of art which will help people recall that Leander was created because of the railroad."

The Leander Trail of Trains project is being developed by the Leander Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center and the City of Leander.

"We are very excited for this project as it is going to bring art, history, and activity to Leander," Brandt said.

After the art work is completed, concrete replicas of the original steam engine that came through Leander in the 1800s will be placed around the city.

"The objective is to build a sense of community while paying tribute to the city’s history, as well as to create a unique activity and experience while increasing traffic to local businesses for visitors and community members," Brandt said.

Railroad plans in the 1880s called for locating rail tracks through nearby Bagdad's downtown area. However, Bagdad's citizens opposed the railroad and the Austin & Northwestern Railroad officials decided instead to build the tracks one mile east of the town.

"We are really excited to be continuing our work on this project with the Chamber," said Leander Mayor Christopher Fielder.

Soon after the railroad was completed, Bagdad's townspeople realized they had made a mistake and it would be of great benefit to their businesses to be located near the railroad. The original Bagdad settlers started moving their businesses and homes nearer to the railroad tracks.

The area near the railroad was surveyed, lots were sold by the railroad and the new town of Leander was established in 1882. The town of Leander was named after Leander “Catfish” Brown, who was one of the men who was responsible for completion of the rail line. The post office moved from Bagdad to Leander in 1882 and Leander grew and prospered.

"We have been looking forward to bringing a project like this to Leander for several years.” Brandt said. “We have had an overwhelming response from the business community and it is wonderful to see everyone ‘getting on board'."

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