Bell County's first courthouse was a log structure, replaced in 1858 by a larger, more expensive building. The voters objected so strongly to the $13,625.00 cost, that they did not re-elect any of the commissioners involved. Bell County's third and final courthouse, completed in 1885, features Renaissance Revival architecture and a copper goddess of justice on top of the clock tower. Behind the courthouse stands Belton's second opera house, built around 1890. Note the saloons to the left of the courthouse - this area was once known as "rat row."
Located just below Belton Dam on FM 2271 near historic Tennessee Valley and along the Leon River, the Miller Springs area has played a significant role in the lives of Central Texas inhabitants. Native Americans used the narrow river valley with its overhanging limestone ledges for shelter, transportation, and hunting and gathering activities. The scenic waterway and abundant flora and fauna also provided a favorite recreational location for later Central Texas families. The rock shelter is now part of Miller Springs Nature Center.
Independence Day celebrations are a longtime Belton tradition, dating back to 1852. Today, a weeklong, nationally recognized celebration includes a carnival, cattle drive, arts and crafts festival, the PRCA rodeo, and a downtown parade. Each year the parade alone often draws crowds of more than 30,000. The parade pictured here shows a mock re-enactment. Notice the crowds gathered in the streets, perched on awnings, and watching from the rooftops.
Belton's Fourth of July parade attracts Over 30thousand people to its downtown area every year. Communities from many Central Texas areas participate by building floats such as this 1920's one from the historic Taylor's Valley community. The Belton Carnegie Library, built in 1904-05 with funds provided by Andrew Carnegie, stands in the background. The building now houses the Bell County Museum.