Founded in 1857 as a county seat, Denton grew slowly until the railroad reached town in the 1880s. A rail outlet brought a considerable increase in population and set the stage for two major universities: Texas Woman’s University and the University of North Texas.
These institutions have cultivated, among other things, a large following for the city’s annual jazz festival. Outside of the universities, Denton is also home to tens of thousands of ranch horses. If he were alive today, outlaw Sam Bass, who once owned a one-man racing stable in Denton, would probably be happy to see that ranch horses still run across this plush North Texas landscape.
What attractions should not be missed?: The Courthouse on the Square (110 W. Hickory), the self-guided driving tours of Horse Country (see the Chamber of Commerce) and Merritt Bois d’Arc Buffalo Ranch (2946 Ganzer Rd.).
What’s the latest gossip?: The bizarre deluge of rain and flooding that the county is experience this summer.
Who does everyone know in Denton?: Literally everyone knows Jim Bryan, the community relations officer at the Denton Police Department, since he is involved in nearly every event that requires volunteers.
What historic site do most of the schoolchildren visit?: The Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum (below), located on the first floor of the 1896 courthouse.
Best Place to Buy Western Gear: Weldon’s Saddle Shop and Western Wear (345 E Hickory St.).
Best Cowboy Bar: Rockin’ Rodeo (1009 Ave. C), featuring Country and Western dancing every weekend.
Best Western Art Gallery: Wild Horse Crossing and Gallery (121 N. Elm St.).
Most Popular Local Event: Arts and Jazz Festival in April, with 2,200 performers and more than 200,000 attendees.
Favorite local cuisine: El Guapo Mexican Restaurant (419 S. Elm St.).
Where to View Wildlife: Ray Roberts Lake State Park, which also has great equestrian trails.
Historical Garden: The Bayless-Selby House Museum (317 W. Mulberry St., above) is surrounded by a Victorian garden featuring plants that grew here in the 1900s.
Best Place to Buy Land: South and north of the Denton city limits.
Avg. House Cost: $130,000.
Any restoration plans for historic downtown?: The biggest project is the Hickory Street Corridor and Art Walk, which will make downtown more entertaining
Avg. Temperature: The January average is in the 40s, while July averages mid-80s.