Hutto Hippos


Some of you probably saw Tim’s Facebook status the other day…

“In Hutto, Texas and I am looking for some hippos!”

We decided a break from our tiny home was in order, and we wanted to be able to let Chase share in our desire for some extra living space, so we did a quick internet search for dog-friendly hotels in/around Austin. The best combination of price, amenities, and unexplored territory happened to be a new Holiday Inn Express in a little town north of Austin named…you guessed it…Hutto, Texas.

We spent two nights there, knocking out a bunch of work during the daytime, sprawling on the sofa, and watching Chase find lots of corners in which to sleep.

Normally we watch Chase plunk down in his bed, and I do mean plunk. He does one tight turn in his dog bed, as dogs do, and then practically throws himself down onto it, shaking the entire RV. After a bit of a doze there, he then walks the hallway and plunks himself down in the 14″ crevice between my chair and Tim’s workstation. Again, the RV bounces, and it gets even more entertaining when he has running dreams. His legs are moving at 3/4 speed and his eyes and muzzle are twitching, and the RV is shaking. Then he wakes up and walks back down the hallway to plunk himself back onto his dog bed. Maybe it’s because we have simplified our lives to such a degree that we find this so entertaining, I don’t know. But I do know that we laugh every single time, and we wonder aloud what our RV neighbors think is happening inside the RV.

Ok, so back to Hutto. Population 28, 142. Established 1876 by several Swedish families. According to the town website, there is an official city flower–the orange crush daylily. A railroad line still runs prominently through Hutto, and although today the downtown area is fairly empty, the old-time buildings are very much those of an old Western town.

However, the thing we noticed as we were driving into town on FM685 was that the high school mascot was a hippo. There was a life-sized statue of one right in front of the school’s front door!

We thought that was kind of interesting, and decided that before we left town we would come back and photograph it. Later, while surfing to learn more about the Hutto Hippos, Tim discovered that the town is packed full of hippo statues! And this is why…

“According to local legend, it was in 1915 that a circus train stopped in Hutto at the depot to take on passengers, pick up and deliver mail and possibly take on water and fuel for the steam locomotive. The circus train workers also would have taken this opportunity to care for their animals. At some point during this historic layover, the hippo got out of the railcar and made its way to the nearby Cottonwood Creek. This caused much consternation for the circus workers. Local farmers and merchants watched the commotion in amusement and with interest as unsuccessful efforts were made to extricate the hippopotamus from the muddy waters of Cottonwood Creek. It is said that the Depot Agent, who at that time would have been Hal Farley, Jr., telegraphed the communities of Taylor and Round Rock that were eight miles to the east and west of Hutto to the effect of: “STOP TRAINS, HIPPO LOOSE IN HUTTO”. After much effort the hippo was prodded from the mud and water that resembled its natural habitat and was reloaded back onto the train car. Soon afterward the Hutto School adopted the hippopotamus as its mascot and as early as 1923 the hippo appeared on official Hutto High School graduation announcements.” -Mike Fowler

You can read more of the story on the Williamson County Historical Commission website.

Regardless, today there are some 100 concrete hippo statues throughout the town of Hutto. We only had 20 minutes to drive around and see as many as possible, but these are what we found, along with a few shots of downtown.

And as Paul Harvey would say, “Now you know the rest of the story!”

by candy

show hide 5 comments

04.13.2011 - 9:02 pm

Mom Never would have guessed a town in west Texas would have so many hippos – thanks for the tour!

04.13.2011 - 10:30 pm

candy Glad you enjoyed it Mom!

04.21.2011 - 7:55 am

John Mathews Hi Tim and Candy,

I’ve been reading about your adventures, and I am happy to see you living your dream. You will have more adventures during this adventure than many people will have in their lifetime. If you are ever near the Poconos in PA, we would love to have you drop by.

04.21.2011 - 9:29 am

candy Thanks John. If we’re out that way, we will look you up! What are you guys up to these days?

04.25.2011 - 1:23 pm

John Mathews Candy & Tim,

Margaret and I are doing well. We currently live in Jim Thorpe, PA (named after the indian athlete Jim Thorpe – very interesting life story). We have been here almost five years now. Because of a recent job change (about 18 months ago), we have been trying to sell and move with little luck. We are in a vacation area, and vacation homes are not moving at all! Until we sell, my daily commute is 100+ miles each way to a little town named Pedricktown, NJ. It is about 20 minutes south of Philadelphia. Most days the commute is fine, as long as traffic cooperates.

Margaret is working part time for Pocono Whitewater. She sometimes takes photos for rafters on the river. She also develops and sells the pictures at the photo shop once the rafters return. Her boss has been very good to her and has given her other small jobs when things get slow at the beginning and the end of the summer. During the winter, Margaret works at Jack Frost Ski Area in the bag check and ski rental area.

Do you have an e-mail address that is more convenient for writing. I could go on for a long time, but I am afraid I may run out of room. My work e-mail address is This is the most convenient e-mail for me, as I am not home very often to check my home e-mail.

Hope to hear from you soon.

John Mathews

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