History in a Pecan Shell
Like so many Southern towns, Riesel started as a cotton gin by a railroad track.
During railroad expansion in the area, the Houston and Texas Central Railway built a section-house called Roddy on the site about 1880. A number of German families settled in the community, and in 1890 W. H. Riesel built a gin there. A post office called Prospect was opened in the community in 1890, and the following year the name of the post office and community was changed to Riesel, after the gin owner, W.H. Riesel.
According to some sources, Baron Bertman von Hollweg, an early settler in the community, built two large buildings to be used as orphanages, but both were destroyed by fire. In 1895 Riesel Independent School District was established, and by 1896 the community had grown to include a hotel, two general stores, one dry goods store, two groceries, and two lumberyards. The town paper, the Riesel Breeze, was founded in 1896 and later was renamed the Riesel Rustler.
The town's population in 1900 was 268. A bank was opened in the community in 1906 and a second in 1910. By 1914 Riesel had Lutheran, Methodist, Christian, and Baptist churches. In 1930 it had 420 residents and twenty businesses. The Texas Department of Agriculture established an experimental station just east of the community in 1938. That year Riesel had 433 inhabitants, a school, two churches, and twenty-two businesses. The population has slowly grown from 403 in 1950, to 691 in 1980, and to 839 in 1990. In 2000 the population was 973. The 2020 census reflected a population of 1,062; however city officials estimate the population to be approximately 1,415.
Riesel is at the intersection of Farm Road 1860 and State Highway 6, on the Missouri Pacific Railroad fourteen miles southeast of Waco in southeastern McLennan County.
The City of Riesel is a Texas Municipal Corporation of the State, duly organized and existing under the laws of Texas as set forth in Chapter 11, Title 28 of the Texas Revised Civil Statutes by Resolution on July 5, 1994. Before that, the City operated as a MUD (Municipal Utility District). The City was incorporated on November 12, 1973, by a vote of 125 for incorporation to a vote of 21 against. The City operates under a Type "A" General Law form of government with a City Council comprised of a Mayor and 5 Council Members. The Mayor and Council are elected annually via general election. Each official holds position for a term of two years.
The City provides public safety (Police and Volunteer Fire), dog catching, street maintenance, water and sanitary sewer utilities.
Public education in Riesel is provided by the Riesel Independent School District. Enrollment for elementary, Jr. high and high school students is approximately 800. Higher education is provided in the county by Baylor University, McLennan County Community College, and Texas State Technical College. Combined enrollment of the three higher education institutions is over 40,000.
Riesel has its own local newspaper called the Riesel Rustler. The Rustler was first published on November 7, 1896 and is still publishing a weekly edition that is available every Friday.
Riesel has a city park on Adams Street called Mullens Park. The park has playground equipment, swings, a splash-pad, basketball court and a walking track.
The Riesel Chapter of the Lion's Club hold an annual fair or special community-wide event every year during June or July, a tradition that dates back to the early 1900's. Proceeds benefit the community and improvements at Lions Park.