Phylena Helm

FASTRILL, TEXAS. Fastrill, on the Neches River twelve miles south of Rusk in western Cherokee County, was established in 1922 by the Southern Pine Lumber Company as a base for its logging operations in that county. The name Fastrill is derived from a combination of three names: that of a former Diboll postmaster, F. F. Farington; that of P. H. Straus, lumberman; and that of Will Hill, lumberman. At its height Fastrill had a barbershop, a cleaning and pressing shop, a drugstore, a commissary, the Southern Pine office, a two-story hotel for single male workers, a wooden superintendent's office, a four-teacher school, two churches, a post office, the Barrel House, and an approximate population of 600 people. The community was a voting precinct. Located southwest of the town on a railroad spur were a blacksmith shop, an engine shed, a water tank, a bathhouse, and an underground crude-oil tank. All houses were constructed of clapboards and consisted of four rooms with a front and back porch. Each house had an outdoor privy. One light plant supplied electricity at specified hours for the entire town. The company supplied farmland and equipment so that its employees could raise produce, and a cannery so that they could preserve it for their use. Four steam engines transported logs to Diboll and Maydelle from the town, and also carried loggers to and from the woods, where they worked a ten-hour day. Fastrill had water piped directly from what is known as the pump hole on the Neches River and stored in a wooden tank built on stilts. The untreated water was used by the steam engines as well as the people and was considered unpolluted because of the absence of industry up the river. A celebration occurred annually on the Fourth of July, when people from neighboring communities would come to a dance sponsored by Southern Pine. A similar celebration for blacks occurred on Juneteenth. Other recreation included baseball, home dances, and Sunday afternoon trips to the Rock Hole, the best swimming hole on the Neches River.

By 1941, when most of the Southern Pine timber was depleted, employees gradually vacated, and the post office, school, and voting precinct were closed. Shortly thereafter the town was totally evacuated. In the 1980s the Arthur Temple Research Area on Farm Road 23 south of Rusk occupied the site of old Fastrill. An old railroad tram and a bridge across the Neches River is known to area residents as the Fastrill Bridge. Annually, on the second Sunday in June, at a park near the old Fastrill site, the former residents of Fastrill gather together for a reunion and drink "good ole river coffee."

Bob Bowman, This Was East Texas (Diboll, Texas: Angelina Free Press, 1967). Hattie Joplin Roach, The Hills of Cherokee (1952; rpt., Fort Worth, 1976).

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Phylena Helm, "FASTRILL, TX," accessed April 21, 2019,

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