Like so many Southern towns, Riesel started as a cotton gin by a railroad track in 1890. At the northwest edge of a newly platted town called "Prospect". The area took on the name of the Riesel Cotton Gin within months.
Riesel grew rapidly and by 1898 had a population of more than 600, a community school, two doctors, and scores of businesses. While most townspeople were of English, and French ancestry, German and Polish immigrant farms covered surrounding prairies. It is this diversity which the Riesel Historical Museum attempts to showcase. Fourteen miles southeast of Waco on Texas Highway 6, Riesel is the site of several antique businesses; most were constructed in the 1900's.
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.
When incorporated, the City was less than two square miles. Over the years the City has more than doubled in size. When incorporated, the City had approximately 620 inhabitants. The 2010 census reflected a population of 1,007; however city officials estimate the population to be approximately 1,200 (temporarily) due to the construction of the power plant.
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 27,000.
The Riesel Chapter of the Lion's Club hold an annual fair 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.
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.