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Copperas Cove celebrates 145th birthday



Cove Leader-Press


Dozens of residents and community members and city officials gathered in the lobby of the Copperas Cove Public Library Monday evening to celebrate the 145th birthday of the city of Copperas Cove.

The celebration was organized by the Copperas Cove Historical Society in partnership with the City of Copperas Cove and featured the reading of a proclamation by Mayor Dan Yancey, followed by a few words by John Gallen, secretary of the Cove Historical Society, and a short history lesson from the Historical Society’s historian James Powell.

No birthday celebration would be complete without cake, which was first sliced by the mayor following the singing of “Happy Birthday”.

The City of Copperas Cove began as a settlement “scattered over the ridges and valleys of the area known to Central Texas Pioneers as the Five Hills”, and after a cattle feeder route to the Chisholm Trail was cut through the region, the community became a resting stop for travelers, according to the Proclamation read by Yancey.

The city was officially founded in March 1879 as a small ranching and farming community with the establishment of the city’s first post office, general store and stagecoach stop, built by Marsden Ogletree in 1878 and located in what is now known as Ogletree Gap on the west end of town. Jesse Clements allowed use of his land for the railroad, which arrived in 1882 and resulted in the town’s center hub moving eastward to what is now known as downtown Copperas Cove, near Main Street and Avenue D.

The population of Copperas Cove has grown to 39,627 residents as of January 2024.

Powell shared in his small history lesson that the name Copperas Cove came after Ogletree had tried to apply for a permit for the post office, giving the community the name “Cove”, but that name had been taken by another community- what is now known as Evant. The story goes that settlers had tasted water from springs in the area, and it had a coppery or copperas taste, but Powell clarified that the water actually was bitter, from sulfites. Ogletree called it Copperas Cove and reapplied for the permit and was approved.

“We had a great five-minute history lesson on how Copperas Cove came to be, and to think from those humble beginnings to where we are right now, and where we're going to be in the next 20 years or so, there's a lot to be grateful for, and a lot to look forward to,” Yancey said following the celebration.

In the library lobby, a giant mural depicting the Ogletree Gap post office and stagecoach stop is on one wall, while different paintings depicting different aspects of the history of Copperas Cove line the inside of the upper ceiling. John Gallen and James Powell revealed the latest addition to the paintings, featuring the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse, painted by Catherine Blashack.

Library Director Kevin Marsh, who is also a member of the Historical Society, was in attendance.

“I think really since we’ve got the mural painted, this lobby of the library is sort of the city’s living room, you know. This is where we come together to celebrate these kinds of things,” Marsh said.  “The library is everybody’s place. It’s not this group or that group- it belongs to everybody, and everybody feels welcome here, so it’s a great place to bring folks together here.”

Marsh added that he felt it was important to celebrate those significant dates, like the 145th birthday of the city.

“We've got our annual Heritage Festival now restarted and going strong, and just helping people enjoy the fun parts of Texas history,” Marsh said. “Then whether they're native Texans or naturalized Texans or just moved here last week, and the Army's going to move them out again in three years-while they're here, they're Texans, and they get to touch that Texas history and enjoy some of the flavor of it and feel like they’ve been a part of something.”

Gallen shared that the Historical Society plans to do a big celebration for the city’s birthday every five years or so. The Historical Society is focused on the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse on April 8. They will be at Ogletree Gap Park during the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce’s Solar Eclipse Camp Totality event, operating the Historical Society’s Country Store out of the historic stagecoach stop and giving tours for a few hours on Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the four-day event (April 5-9).

The Historical Society will also be holding the annual Heritage Festival at Ogletree Gap in October, starting on a Friday night with a barn dance and barbeque and then the festival itself on that Saturday.

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
Phone:(254) 547-4207