Lake Whitney has been the getaway location historically for many Native Americans, European settlers, gunfighters like John Wesley Hardin, and even the notorious Bonnie and Clyde.
Currently, two local organizations, the Hill County Historical Commission, and the Fort Graham Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, actively work to help preserve the local history.
Many of these historic sites can be seen on the Lake Whitney Driving Tour.
Whitney was established in 1876 when the Houston and Texas Central Railroad built a line through Hill County to Cleburne. The town was named for Charles A. Whitney, the brother-in-law of J. P. Morgan, and a principal stock holder in the H&TC.
In 1880 Whitney was incorporated, and the first bank opened. By 1885 the town had a newspaper, the Boesch Lumber Company, and four churches, Methodist Episcopal, Cumberland Presbyterian, First Baptist, and Church of Christ.
Under-Water Ghost Town
Towards the south end of the lake, near the mouth of the Towash Creek, are the remains of what once was the early Texas settlement of Towash, inundated by the waters of Lake Whitney in the early 1950's.
Battle of the Benches,
featured in Life Magazine
Whitney was featured in a 1949 issue of Life magazine, when an election was held to determine if elderly gentlemen, known as the "spit and whittlers", could continue their pastimes while sitting on a long bench in downtown Whitney, or whether the more genteel ladies of the town, who were offended by the men's spitting and language, would prevail.
Bass Fishing Tournaments
In 1955, the Waco Tribune-Herald organized a competitive bass fishing tournament on Lake Whitney. This tournament, the first of its kind, became the Texas State Bass Tournament in 1956. More than 50 years later, competitive tournaments continue to be popular at the lake.
The grandest residence in Whitney began as a log cabin, built in 1845. Colman Carver enclosed the cabin with a larger house in 1875, and his ancestors added a second story in 1912. Site of the first artesian well in Hill County.
In 1912, fire was reported coming from the gravesite of Mr. Carter, and locals believed it to be the flames of hell. It was 13 years until it was discovered to be a practical joke instigated by two local Aggies.
Originally authorized by U.S. Congress in 1941. Construction began in 1947 (delayed because of WW II), and was completed in 1951 at a cost of $42 million.
Whitney Area Museum
Local museum with exhibits on the history of the area, including a copy of the Life magazine detailing the "Battle of the Benches".
Whitney Memorial Park
In 1950, the construction of Whitney Dam created the need for this cemetery, for the reinterment of 1260 graves from six historic cemeteries in Hill and Bosque counties. Both Jesse Walling, who participated in the Battle of San Jacinto, and John C. Walling, who served in the Texas Army, are buried here.
Established by the U.S. military in 1849, and used primarily as a scouting and reporting station. As settlement moved westward, the fort was abandoned in 1853 when it was no longer strategic. Reconstruction of one of the buildings took place around the time of the Texas Centennial; this building still stands.
Fort Graham Cemetery
Established in 1879, this is the only one of a number of historic graveyards in the area to remain undisturbed by the creation of Lake Whitney in the early 1950s. Still an active cemetery.
Town established by the Neal family in 1860, and originally called Elm Mott. Name changed to Huron in 1897 when a local post office was established.
Weekly newspaper established in 1883 by H. P. and J. O. Jones. Historical marker at 109 W Washington.
King Memorial United Methodist Church
Organized in 1875; present building constructed in 1901 and named after Capt. Newton J. King, an area pioneer and early church member.
Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church
Established in 1883 from the combination of three African-American Baptist congregations in Hill County.
Built in 1885 by the owner of Boesch Lumber Company.
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Organized in 1880; building constructed in 1905. South Colorado & West Cleveland, Whitney.
W.T. Herrick House
Built in 1906 by local hardware merchant; home restored in 1980. 200 South Colorado, Whitney.
The Whitney railroad depot was likely built sometime during the early 1900's and stood just south of the present downtown area at the end of Brazos Street. The railroad was instrumental in bringing supplies to the area during the building of the dam. After the completion of that project, the railroad declined and the depot was torn down in 1962.