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One of Texas' major cities, Waco retains the flavor of its past when the five "C's"—cattle, cotton, corn, collegians and culture—were its support. Springs on the Brazos River were long popular with the Native American Waco tribe. The first non-natives to see the area were remnants of De Soto's band in 1542. A Texas Ranger fort was established near the Native American village in 1837, and the first white settlers came 12 years later. After the Civil War wrecked the area's plantation economy, renewed Western movement and the Chisholm Trail's path through Waco brought another boom—and frontier wildness branded the town as "Six-Shooter Junction."
Today, Waco is known for its educational, cultural and recreational facilities. Institutions of higher learning are Baylor University, McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College. A scenic river walk meanders along the Brazos River from Fort Fisher Park past the suspension bridge and through Cameron Park to Herring Avenue.
Annual events include the Homestead Labor Day Festival and Waco Cultural Arts Festival in September, and the Heart O' Texas Fair and Rodeo during the first week in October.