While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl

SANDOW, TEXAS. Sandow is a mining community on Farm Road 1786 eight miles southwest of Rockdale in southern Milam County. At one time the site was a stop for mule drivers hauling freight from Matagorda. Freezeout, as the drivers named the community, had a trading post, a quarter-mile racetrack, and several saloons. A post office opened there in 1873 and was named Millerton in honor of Emil Miller, who had given land for a school. Millerton became a voting precinct in 1874. Its post office closed in 1876, reopened in 1889, and was finally discontinued in 1891, when mail was routed through Rockdale. Millerton had a one-teacher school for forty-two students in 1903; the school was incorporated with the Rockdale Independent School District in 1949. In 1918 the Federal Fuel Company, which owned a lignite mine at Millerton, began construction of a six-mile railroad to connect the mine with the International and Great Northern line at Marjorie. The fuel company soon went bankrupt, however, leaving the railroad unfinished. When the McAlester Fuel Company took over the operation in 1922, it renamed the town Sandow, after a famous strongman then being promoted by Florenz Ziegfeld. Construction of the Rockdale, Sandow and Southern Railroad was completed in 1923. For twenty-five years the Sandow mine provided lignite to several plants in Texas, including the central heating plants at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, the San Antonio Public Service plant at New Braunfels, and the Texas Power and Light plant at Trinidad. The abundance of cheap natural gas, however, undermined the lignite industry during the 1930s and 1940s, and in 1950 the mine at Sandow closed. In 1951, after the development of a process by which lignite could be dried and carbonized to produce a cheap fuel, the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) decided to locate a large plant near Sandow; the Sandow Power Plant used lignite to generate electricity for Alcoa. Though the new business brought a much-needed economic boost to the region, Sandow did not develop as a commercial or residential center. Most of the employees of the Alcoa plant lived and shopped in Rockdale. The Alcoa facilities were all that marked Sandow on the 1988 county highway map. No population estimates were available.

Lelia M. Batte, History of Milam County, Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1956). Milam County Heritage Preservation Society, Matchless Milam: History of Milam County (Dallas: Taylor, 1984). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Rockdale, Texas).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, "SANDOW, TX," accessed August 04, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hts03.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Texas AlmanacFor more information about towns and counties including physical features, statistics, weather, maps and much more, visit the Town Database on TexasAlmanac.com!
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...