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FRUITLAND, TX

FRUITLAND, TEXAS. Fruitland is on State Highway 101 six miles southeast of Bowie in south central Montague County. Community development occurred in the early 1880s. For a few years residents called the settlement Plano; in 1884 they changed the name to Woodswitch, after a wooden platform built by William H. Scarborough. The structure was designed to ease the loading of lumber onto the cars of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway, which had extended its tracks to the area the same year. Land cleared by Scarborough was replanted with fruit trees in ten-acre lots, and later the community changed its name to reflect the fact. In 1892 postal service began under the town's new name, Fruitland. For the next twenty years the community lived up to its name. Scarborough's fruit trees, an apple orchard planted by Frank Davis, and other fields of peaches, pears, and berries established the area as one of the pioneer fruit-raising centers of North Texas. This reputation was further enhanced when Davis won a first prize for his apples at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. The town, however, did not grow. By the middle 1920s its population numbered just under 150, and during the Great Depression the number of residents declined, as did crop production. Insects, as well as neglect due to a failing economy, adversely affected the fruit harvest during the 1930s and early 1940s. By the late 1950s, though, roadside fruit stands on U.S. highways 81 and 287 near Fruitland were doing a $6 million annual business. Nevertheless, in 1954 postal service to the community ended. Between 1945 and the late 1950s an estimated 100 people lived at Fruitland. After the 1960s the population declined, and from the mid-1970s to 2000 reports estimated the population at twenty.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Jeff S. Henderson, ed., One Hundred Years in Montague County, Texas (St. Jo, Texas: Ipta Printer, 1978). Montague County Historical Commission, Story of Montague County (Dallas: Curtis, 1989).
David Minor

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Handbook of Texas Online, David Minor, "Fruitland, TX," accessed October 01, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnf46.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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