A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 13, 2007
Toughest Town in Texas (Luling slogan)

Many towns in Texas claimed to be the roughest and the toughest in all Texas. For many reasons, the slogan “Toughest Town in Texas” stuck the most to Luling. The slogan is historical and doesn’t apply to the town today.


Wikipedia: Luling, Texas
Luling is a city in Caldwell County, Texas, along the San Marcos River. The population was 5,080 at the 2000 census. There is some debate as to how Luling got its name. Some say it was named for a Chinese railroad worker, others for a judge named Luling. Most likely it was the maiden name of a railroad builder’s wife, though no one can be certain.
History
Luling was founded in 1874 as a railroad town and became a rowdy center for the cattle drivers on the Chisholm Trail. Contempt of the law by the cowboys helped Luling become known as the “toughest town in Texas.” After the great cattle drives ended in the late 1880s, Luling quieted down to a town of about 500, where cotton ruled the local economy. 

Texas Escapes
LULING, TEXAS
Caldwell County, Central Texas S
Hwy 183
47 miles S of Austin
17 miles S of Lockhart
13 miles N of Gonzales

Just North of I-10
20 miles SE of San Marcos
34 miles E of New Braunfels
59 miles E of San Antonio
Population: 5,080 (2000)

Rivalry between Lockhart and Luling has cooled somewhat. Their high schools no longer compete in football and both towns have spanking-new HEB stores. Life is good in Caldwell County. Barbecue aficionados from South of I-10 have never seen the need to drive the additional mileage to participate in the Barbecue Wars in Lockhart, since City Market and Luling Barbecue know what they’re doing. Once called “The Toughest Town in Texas”, time has tenderized Luling to a nice medium-rare.

Google Books
The Scarlet Shadow:
A Story of the Great Colorado Conspiracy
by Walter Hurt
Girard, KS: The Appeal to Reason
1907
Pg. 125:
His father, as chief if police of San Antonio in the days when the Alamo City was the toughest town in Texas, did much toward making the great South-west a safer and more respectable place of residence.

Google Books
History of Colorado
by Wilbur Fiske Stone
Chicago, IL: S. J. Clarke
1918
Pg. 515:
...located in the northern part of Texas with headquarters at Tascosa, known at one time as the toughest town in Texas.

31 January 1942, Reno (NV) Evening Gazette, pg. 10, col. 1:
Tome Keene has the leading role in “Lone Star Law Men,” The western star thunders into the toughest town in Texas to rid it of a gang of killers.

11 April 1952, Newport (RI) Daily News, pg. 11 movie ad:
WACO
ROUGHEST, TOUGHEST TOWN IN TEXAS!

8 December 1962, San Antonio Express and News, pg. 7B, col. 6:
LULING—What once boasted as being the “toughest town in Texas,” may well be on its way to being one of the richest.

25 May 1963, San Antonio Light, pg. 8, cols. 3-4:
The collection of cowboys, drovers, freighters, railroadmen, gamblers, saloons and pleasure palaces gave Luling the reputation as the “Toughest Town in Texas.”

13 December 1967, San Antonio Light, “Texas Trails: Luling Could Claim a Marker, Too” by Hart Stilwell, pg.67, col. 1:
The Handbook says, “As a cattle center, shipping point, and end of the freight road from Chihuahua, Mexico, it was called the toughest town in Texas.”

Neither Nickells or Love had heard about this.

“Well, you going to look into it and make a bid for marker?” I asked.

“Sure we will,” Love said, and the mayor agreed...they’ll do some digging in history books and ask for a marker if the checking justifies it, the men said.

26 October 1969, San Antonio Light, magazine section, pg. 6, col. 2:
Today Luling is an agricultural center, but years ago when it was the northern terminus of a trail to Chihuahua, Mexico, it gained fame as “the toughest town in Texas.”

Google Books
Nicknames and Sobriquets of U.S. Cities, States, and Counties
Third Edition
by Joseph Nathan Kane & Gerald L. Alexander
Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
1979
Pg. 355:
Toughest Town in Texas. Luling, Tex.

Google Groups: houston.eats
Newsgroups: houston.eats
From: (Professor Vonroach)
Date: 1999/09/01
Subject: Re: Wimberly Dining

And remember James, Luling is called the toughest town in Texas.

Google Books
The Way West:
True Stories of the American Frontier
edited by James A. Crutchfield
New York: Tor/Forge
2005
Pg. 71:
When cities lose a colorful and descriptive phrase that was once linked to the history of the spot, there are usually definite reasons for the loss. Obviously, the taming of the frontier may make a saying obsolete. This is the case for Luling, once called “The Toughest Town in Texas,” which is a hard name to live up to in the Lone Star State, a territory known from coast to coast for its rough and rowdy ways. But when Luling did bear the distinction of being a risky spot to dwell and an easy place to die, it lived up to its billing.

Geographically, Luling was founded on dark and bloody ground. The Site (Pg. 72—ed.) of a terrific Indian battle is only six miles north of the town, and the scene of a terrible Indian massacre lies barely seven miles to the east.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, September 13, 2007 • Permalink