Wacky Waco: The Magnolia Empire

Some of you may wonder what is going on here. I am as well. Today I posted the blog about Waco. Tonight I tried to do some maintenance on the site, and the web site quit working. I wound up having to restore from a previous backup. So now I am re-posting the Waco entry.

I am delinquent in updating the blog, so you will see several updates here in short order, including pictures of our time in Waco (November), Austin (December), and San Antonio (early January). If I get really organized, you will also see the first scenes of the “Hill Country” where we are spending the rest of the month of January.

Waco is a fascinating place. Located on the Brazos river, it was famous in the early days for cattle drives, which chose this location to cross the river on their way north to market in Abilene, Kansas. One of the pictures below shows a commemoration of that history.

Following this, several colleges started in Waco. But one by one, they relocated to the bigger metropolis of Dallas, just to the north. The last college had voted to leave town when the town and a wealthy donor stepped in and convinced them to stay. So it is still a college town, with Baylor University now the “big fish in a little pond,” dominating the culture scene of the town.

The third and newest part of Waco’s history is Magnolia, the conglomeration of companies formed by Chip and Joanna Gaines, fueled by the enormous popularity of the “Fixer Upper” TV show.

When Chip was a young man, he started his career “flipping” houses. A young girl named Joanna caught his eye. But her father, a local tire store operator, was concerned that Chip would not be able to support her. So he called Chip aside and advised him that if he was serious about Joanna, he should settle down and get a “real job.” To his credit, Chip did not take this future in-law’s advice.

Today, Joanna’s father is on Chip’s payroll. Today, the Gaines’ “Magnolia” brand includes a store, bakery, restaurant, and other supporting businesses. Including part-time staff, they employ 1,000 people, making them one of Waco’s largest employers. They have also fostered other spin-off companies, including a tour bus company that focuses most of its attention on seeing the houses from the show in their natural settings, and dropping people at the store and bakery to experience the Gaines empire first hand.

Waco is also the largest town near Crawford, Texas, the hometown of George W. Bush. When we asked the RV park about recommendations for a breakfast place, they sent us to a restaurant near Crawford that was a favorite haunt of “W” while he was governor and president. A couple of the scenes below show the quaint Texas diner that still shows off their pride in their native son on their coffee cups.

1 thought on “Wacky Waco: The Magnolia Empire”

  1. Can I just say… I love that you are taking us along with you. What a grand adventure! But remembering how Ellen feels about snakes and other “eek” kind of creatures, that sign about copperheads had to make her nervous. It would me and I live in the desert! Even walked up to a 5 foot rattlesnake that was digesting it’s meal and snapped it’s picture. Of course, it took about 20 minutes for my heart to calm down. Haha! Keep the stories coming. And hugs to you both!! XXOO

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