Did You Know?
Austin was once the spinach capital of the U.S.?
Truck farms loaded spinach onto trains to ship all over the nation.
Boggy Creek Farm was one of the many spinach farms.
Spinach Farmers at what is now Butler Pitch and Putt on S. Lamar (the space to the left later became S. Lamar). This is likely the 1920s.
1: The Seaholm Power Plant Tower is seen in the distance across the Colorado River.
2: Two Moon Towers can be seen faintly in the distance across the river.
3: The Driskill Hotel is the large, distant building to the right of the old water tower.
4: Just in front of the old water tower is the first of other train cars running on the Union Pacific RR (1881). This track is part of the current railway graffiti bridge.
5: Center back of the Spinach field is a house similar to the 1841 Boggy Creek Farm House.
In the 1990s Carol Ann appropriately described the spinach she was growing at Boggy Creek Farm as Succulent Spinach. You just can't beat it!
In the very early 1900s the Colorado River Valley's nutrient-rich soil was used by Austin farmers. Many became spinach growers when science proved its health benefit over lettuce. and its popularity began to soar. Spinach was hand-picked and loaded onto trains as seen in the photo and shipped to places such as St. Louis, New York, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis.
While it was once the largest growing and shipping region in Texas, it was quickly displaced by what became known as the “Winter Garden Triangle.” Del Rio, Laredo, and San Antonio formed the points of the triangle, with counties such as Uvalde and Dimmit being central (Dainello & Morelock, 2009).
The Winter Garden Triangle had more cheap land and labor, not to mention weather that was less prone to freezes, and once they had the ability to get the infrastructure in place to produce and ship spinach to distant markets, they quickly displaced the Austin area. Crystal City has been know as the Spinach Capital and home of Popeye the Sailor Man since the mid 1920s.
Sources: Dissertation by Jonathan Thomas Lowell, UT Austin 2018