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Entry from January 04, 2013
Pearl of the Prairie (El Campo nickname)

The term “pearl of the prairie” has been used since at least 1880, when there was a show titled Buffalo Bill at bay or, The pearl of the prairie. According to The Handbook of Texas Online, in 1882 there was a railroad camp called Prairie Switch in Wharton County, Texas, that cowboys called the “Pearl of the Prairies.” The name was changed to El Campo in 1890.

“The Pearl of the Prairies” has been cited in print since at least 1894; “Pearl of the Prairie” has been cited in print since at least 1902. The city of El Campo now uses “Pearl of the Prairie” as a nickname.


Wikipedia: El Campo, Texas
El Campo is a city in Wharton County, Texas, United States. The population was 10,945 at the 2000 census, making it the largest city in Wharton County.

OCLC WorldCat record
Programme for this evening! ... Hon. Wm. F. Cody ... will present ... Buffalo Bill at bay or, The pearl of the prairie! ...
Publisher: [Boston] : Boston Color Printing Company, 153 Milk Street., [between 1872 and 1890]
Series: Archive of Americana.; American broadsides and ephemera., Series 1 ;, no. 22831.
Edition/Format: Book : English

The Handbook of Texas Online
EL CAMPO, TEXAS. El Campo is on U.S. Highway 59 and State Highway 71, thirteen miles southwest of Wharton in south central Wharton County. The Lower Colorado River Authority provides water, and several creeks flow near the city limits. In 1882 a railroad camp called Prairie Switch was situated where El Campo now stands and served as a switching point on New York, Texas and Mexican Railway. Cowboys called the camp “Pearl of the Prairies.” Located in the midst of cattle country, the camp was used by Mexican cowboys who changed the name to El Campo in 1890.

The Portal to Texas History
12 April 1894, Shiner (TX) Gazette, pg. 7, col. 4:
El Campo in Wharton county is called the “the Pearl of the Prairies.” (sic)

The Portal to Texas History
3 July 1902, Houston (TX) Daily Post, pg. 12, col. 5:
Big Barbecue at El Campo
Wharton, Texas, July 2.—The grand barbecue at El Campo, to be held July 4, is now the most interesting topic of conversation. Wharton, en masse, will share the hospitality of the “Pearl of the Prairie.”

OCLC WorldCat record
El Campo, Texas official city map : pearl of the Prairie
Author: A.I.D. Associates.
Publisher: Dallas, TX : A.I.D. Associates ; El Campo, Tex. : El Campo Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture [distributor], ©1997.
Edition/Format: Map : English

Google Books
It’s Not About The Money:
Small-Town Newspapering in Texas

By Charlene Rose Vandini
Austin, TX: Eakin Press
2000
Pg. 24:
The sign welcoming me to El Campo also proclaimed this town the “Pearl of the Prairie.” It’s “Home of the Ricebirds,” the high school sports teams, and home to about 11,000 people.

El Campo is flat and rural, with humidity noticeably higher than in Austin.

Google Books
Medal of Honor:
One Man’s Journey From Poverty and Prejudice.

By Roy P Benavidez and John R Craig
Washington, DC: Potomac Books, Inc.
2005
Pg. ?:
El Campo was called the “Pearl of the Prairie” by the people who founded it in the late nineteenth century as a siding and shipping point on the railroad. It was originally called Prairie Switch. When cattlemen began to camp there, the name El Campo began being used, and it stuck.

Victoria (TX) Advocate
El Campo Chamber of Commerce
Originally published August 22, 2009 at 1 a.m., updated August 22, 2009 at 1:05 a.m.
In the 1880s, El Campo was the largest prairie hay shipping point in the United States. Cattle shipped by rail were handled mainly by Mexican cowboys.

The town became known as the “Pearl of the Prairie,” perhaps because the light in the section house looked like a pearl across the prairie at night.

In 1889, the settlement took the Mexican name, “The Camp,” or El Campo.

Houston (TX) Chronicle
El Campo can’t get enough of its Ricebirds
By Tom Dart | December 13, 2012
(...)
‘Pearl of the Prairie’
Originally an 1880s railroad camp dubbed “Pearl of the Prairie” by cowboys with great marketing savvy, El Campo prospered through agriculture and, lately, petroleum. And, like so many other Texas towns of similar size and comparable obscurity, in high school football it found the ideal conduit to express pride and define identity. To portray itself and to understand itself. Which makes El Campo at once utterly common and truly extraordinary.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Friday, January 04, 2013 • Permalink