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Marker honors county’s roots

It may be difficult for some young people to comprehend, but there was a time — and it wasn’t all that long ago — when farming was a primary occupation for Denton County residents.

Unfortunately, many of the landmarks of the county’s agricultural past are rapidly fading from view. As business and residential developments have proliferated, tracts of farmland have been carved up for projects and the signposts that once pointed the way to Denton County’s agricultural heart have all but disappeared.

Luckily for us and future generations, area historians are doing their best to make sure that this chapter from Denton County’s past is preserved, and one of their latest efforts will soon place a Texas Historical Subject Marker at the site of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station No. 6.

A ceremony planned for 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 6, at the corner of Masch Branch and Hampton roads in Denton will honor the station, which operated for more than 62 years beginning in 1910. When the station was established, farming was flourishing in Denton County, and the station played an important role in community and economic growth in the region.

“It did a lot of research projects for the county and for the whole state at the time it was in existence … development and research of different seeds, wheat and oats,” said Tom Rainey, a member of the Texas A&M AgriLife Beef, Crops and Forage Committee and co-sponsor of the marker application.

“It’s important for the county to recognize what went on out there because it is a part of history, and we don’t want to lose that history.”

We couldn’t agree more, and we appreciate the efforts of those who helped with the historical marker project.

The marker application was submitted to the Texas Historical Commission in the fall of 2010 as a 2011 marker application and was approved in January 2011.

The historical narrative was researched and written by local historian and journalist Nita Thurman, a former member of the Denton County Historical Commission. Beef, Crops and Forage Committee members Dennis Smith, chairman, and Rainey worked with Denton County Historical Commission Marker Committee as co-sponsors to obtain the marker.

The ceremony is sponsored by the Denton County Historical Commission and the Texas A&M AgriLife Beef, Crops and Forage Committee.

The dedication is open to the public and will be held outdoors at the marker site, in front of the historic old rock and metal gate that was the original entry into the station.

The Agriculture Experiment Stations represented the first full-scale scientific approach to improving agriculture in the U.S.

As early as March 1888, scientists at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas were conducting the first research projects at College Station, and by 1909, the Texas Legislature had approved Senate Bill 51, creating agricultural experiment stations. Six new experiment stations were in operation, including one in Denton, by 1910.

The stations played a key role in developing improved crops and farming techniques.

“There were a lot of grains developed to withstand the extreme weather of North Texas,” said Beth Stribling, Denton County Historical Commission chairwoman.

The station was closed in 1972 and activities were moved to a regional agricultural research center.

Texas Agricultural Experiment Station No. 6 made important contributions to both Denton County and our state, and it’s appropriate that its place in history will be secured by the new marker.