Lockhart, Texas is in Caldwell County. The town was initially called Plum Creek. That is where Texans won the Battle of Plum Creek over the Comanche. The name was later changed to honor Byrd Lockhart, a surveyor who was the first Anglo in the area. It became the county seat, and the historic county courthouse was built in 1894. The courthouse remains open, though the historic jail has become a museum.
The city is notable for being the home of the oldest operating public library in the state, Dr. Eugene Clark Library. The library was built in 1899 using money donated by the namesake doctor on his deathbed. The city was named the Barbecue Capital of Texas in 1999 by the state legislature. There are four different BBQ restaurants in downtown so good that many Austin residents come here to enjoy it. One restaurant has been in continuous operation since 1900.
The town is along the Chisholm Trail. However, Lockhart’s growth began when the railroad arrived. It became a regional shipping center for cotton. It remains a small town. The population was estimated to be 13,700 in 2019. It grew by roughly a thousand people since 2010 and two thousand more residents than were identified in the 2000 census. This makes it a slow-growing suburb of Austin. The town is thirty miles south of Austin and a ten to twenty minute drive to San Marcos. San Antonio is seventy miles to the northeast. The historic downtown and original county courthouse have resulted in many films being shot in part or in whole in the town. For example, parts of “The Leftovers” TV series were shot here. Movies from “A Splice of Life” to “Transformers: Age of Extinction” to “Secondhand Lions” were shot here. The first movie shot in Lockhart was “Baby the Rain Must Fall” in 1965. But movie shooting began in earnest with “The Great Waldo Pepper”. After that, one to four movies a year were shot in the small town in addition to the occasional TV show. This is why it is a registered Texas Film Friendly Town. The most famous movie here is arguably “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”
It is notable that there were few westerns shot here, though there was a real-life shootout between Sherriff John Henry Franks and the city marshal John L. Smith in 1915. Bullet holes still exist in the walls of the second floor of the courthouse. This is just one example of how the town captures literal history.
The city has its own school district, the Lockhart Independent School District. The school district also serves communities like Mustang Ridge, Pettytown, Niederwald, Elm Grove, Delhi, Tilmon and a few other unincorporated communities. There are five elementary schools, one junior high school and one high school in the school district.
Lockhart has been slowly changing. Lockhart State Park is a 260 acre park at the edge of town. The city opened a dog park at City Park in 2021. Yet the city honors history. For example, the Southwest Museum of Clocks and Watches is located here.
The average resident of the town is 40 years old. This is in line with the national average but several years higher than the state average. A quarter of residents are under the age of 18. Lockhart has a lower median income than the national average. The average household in town earns 57,000 dollars a year, while the state average is 64K per household. Per capita income is 24K. Roughly fifteen percent of residents live in poverty. On the other hand, housing is relatively cheap. The average house in Lockhart costs less than 200K. The average home price in Texas is roughly 250K. But Lockhart is a bargain compared to the typical home in Austin. The median home price in Austin for mid-market homes is 450K, while the average price is 560K if you include luxury homes.
Texas Highway 183 connects Lockhart to Austin. You’d pass through small towns like Mustang Ridge and McKinney Falls State Park on the way. If you took that highway south, you’d reach Interstate 10. State Highway 130 connects Lockhart to Seguin, Texas. That road connects with Highway 10 in Seguin, and you can take it to San Antonio.