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Marlin, Texas
A view looking west on Coleman Street with the Marlin Mineral Water Pavilion (right), 2011
A view looking west on Coleman Street with the Marlin Mineral Water Pavilion (right), 2011
The Mineral Water City of Texas
Location of Marlin, Texas
Location of Marlin, Texas
Country  United States of America
State  Texas
County Falls
Settled 1850
Incorporated 1867
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 4.57 sq mi (11.83 km2)
 • Land 4.52 sq mi (11.70 km2)
 • Water 0.05 sq mi (0.13 km2)
390 ft (119 m)
 • Total 5,967
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,235.55/sq mi (477.07/km2)
Demonym(s) Marlinite
Time zone UTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code 254
FIPS code 48-46740
GNIS feature ID 1362189
Downtown Marlin, TX IMG 6216
Downtown Marlin (2012)
Falls County Courthouse, Marlin, TX IMg 6211
Glimpse of Falls County Courthouse, shaded by large trees
Falls Community Hospital, Marlin, TX IMG 6220
Falls Community Hospital in Marlin
Citizens State Bank, Marlin, TX IMG 6221
Citizens State Bank in downtown Marlin
First United Methodist Church of Marlin, TX IMG 6218
First United Methodist Church at 411 Coleman Street in Marlin
First Baptist Church, Marlin, TX IMG 6219
First Baptist Church (1928 sanctuary) at 309 Coleman Street in Marlin

Marlin is a city in Falls County, Texas, United States. The population was 6,628 at the 2000 census but decreased by 10% to 5,967 in 2010. Since 1851, it has been the county seat of Falls County. Marlin has been given the nickname "The Hot Mineral Water City of Texas" by the 76th Texas State Legislature. Mineral water was discovered there in 1892.



The city of Marlin is located 4 miles (6 km) east of the Brazos River, which runs through the center of the county. The low falls on the river southwest of present-day Marlin was the site of Sarahville de Viesca, established in 1834 by Sterling C. Robertson. Marlin was incorporated in 1867. It is named after a pioneer patriot, John Marlin. His son-in-law, Samuel A. Blain, laid out streets and lots and drafted a map around a square. Three churches – Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist — were given lots first and relocated to the east side of the square. Zenas Bartlett's General Store was the first business to be established in Marlin. When Bartlett's wife died, the store was deeded to the city and used as a town hall. A simple brick building temporarily stood as a school. The first of four county courthouses was a log cabin. It was used for county business and court, a school, a church, a meeting place for political and community events, and as a dance hall. The fourth and present courthouse was constructed in 1938 and 1939, after the third courthouse, which was built in 1887, was declared unsafe.

Before Falls County was organized, the settlement of Marlin already had established private schools. A tuition school, Marlin Male and Female Academy, was located on Ward Street in 1871, north of the public square. The school was renamed and relocated before finally being sold in 1886, only to be destroyed by fire in 1900. A new public brick school was constructed in 1903. The Marlin Independent School District was established in 1923. Nearly half a century before in 1875, two other schools for African Americans were organized. The two black schools were dependent on state funds, and met in the African and Baptist churches. In 1916, the city council voted to build a school for blacks, which after it was first built, it was moved to Commerce Street, and named "Booker T. Washington". The two school districts merged in 1968 into the Marlin Independent School District. In 1900, the town's Jewish residents organized a Sunday school.

The 1890s and early 20 century; Falls and Arlington hotels

Despite not officially going over 8,000 (the largest population was recorded by the official US Census at about 7,900 in both 1950 and 1980) Marlin did get many tourists from around the country for its famous mineral water, which was believed to heal any sickness or pain, by bathing in it. Even though the waters had a smell to them, they still seemed to be "magic" when people bathed in the stuff, and actually felt better. Bath houses were opened around the town of Marlin so people could come and takes bathes in the mineral water, after it was discovered in 1892 during the search for an artesian well. The mineral water had put the town on the map as hundreds of thousands of tourists flocked to the area. With the end of World War II and the advent of penicillin there began a national and local decline in the hot mineral bath industry.

The Bank of Marlin was opened in 1892 and operated until the early 1960s.

The Cincinnati Reds baseball team held spring training in Marlin in 1907. The New York Giants baseball team (now the San Francisco Giants) held spring training in Marlin from 1908 to 1918.

In 1929, Conrad Hilton built his eighth Hilton Hotel in his chain in Marlin, the nine-floor, 110-room Falls Hotel, which could be seen for miles from the city limits of Marlin. Across the street was the Marlin Sanitarium Bathhouse. An underground tunnel connected the two buildings.

A fire destroyed the underground tunnel, the Sanitarium Bath House and Buie Clinic. Except for three businesses located on the ground floor, the Falls Hotel was subsequently closed. The hotel building remains the tallest building in Falls County. The location of the bath house is adjacent to the city post office, and a gazebo and park occupy the site of the bathhouse and clinic buildings. The Arlington Hotel was first built as a three-floor hotel in 1895, and burned in 1899. An even more grand structure made of brick and stone followed, and was the headquarters of the New York Giants baseball team from about 1900–1920. When in about 1930 the Moody family of Galveston bought the Marlin Hilton Hotel from Conrad Hilton's first venture into his failed hotel business, the Moody's bought and tore down the Arlington Hotel to eliminate any competition.

The first floor of the Falls Hotel is the only part of the hotel that the public may visit. Original rooms of the hotel are now a Mexican restaurant, a beauty salon, and an eye doctor. City events are also held in the ballroom of the Falls Hotel.

Along with the decline of the hot mineral industry, almost all other "bathhouse related" business were, over the years, closed and their structure demolished. Mineral water now can only be obtained from a fountain outside the Marlin Chamber of Commerce.

Modern utilities in Marlin

Phones began appearing in households in Marlin in the year 1900. Automobiles, electricity, and Lone Star Gas followed shortly. By the mid-1900s, Marlin had a bottling company, stock pens, a brickyard, a turkey-processing plant (building can still be seen on Williams Street/South Business Highway 6), a saddlery, a water crystallization plant, and a pottery plant.

The 2000s

At the census in 2000, Marlin had a population of 6,628, an increase of 242 people from 1990, when Marlin had a population of 6,386. The population of Marlin had declined to 5967 residents as of 2010.

Wallace, a business-form printing company which was the employer of hundreds in Marlin, closed in the mid-2000s. Marlin Mills, a carpet manufacturing company, closed with the 1980s economic decline. A styrofoam company that had been open in another building in Marlin's declining industrial park caught fire and the remains were demolished. The Thomas T. Connally Veteran's Affair Hospital, a five-floor building in the residential area of Marlin, located at the corner of Ward and Virginia streets, closed in 2005, losing more than a hundred jobs as the economy in Marlin continued to struggle.

By 2009, different census estimates had said that Marlin's population had decreased by 400 to 800 people. An article in the Waco Tribune-Herald reported that Marlin could grow, having noted the establishment of a $10-million water plant. The article mentions a three-floor, sixty-room Best Western Hotel under construction on Highway 6 at Farm-to-Market Road 147. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice was establishing a hospital for prisoners at the former Veterans' Affairs Hospital which was expected to employ 100 to 150 persons. However, funds for the proposed Texas Department of Criminal Justice hospital were reallocated to renovate the TDJC hospital in Galveston which was badly damaged by Hurricane Rita.


The Heart of Texas Council of Governments granted the city of Marlin $35,000 to remove fifteen dilapidated buildings and structures in the town, which included 300 tons of debris. Over 6 miles (10 km) of water lines were constructed on 20 streets in 2011. The city also started and completed a 500,000-gallon water tower project.

In 2011, the city brought back its Annual Music and Blues Festival, and raised money to revamp the city baseball fields and revive the City Little League, which attracted 160 children that year.

The city's crime rate decreased by 45 percent in 2011.


On November 10, 2015, Marlin Chief of Police Darrell Allen died while in office. Chief Allen had suffered a gunshot while at an off-duty security job in Temple on November 1. The suspect was placed into custody at the scene by other officers working security.

In December 2015 a protest occurred after the city water had been turned off for almost a week. The event was originally a rally supporting jobs in Marlin and a pro-Marlin ISD rally.


Marlin is located in east-central Falls County at 31°18′29″N 96°53′35″W / 31.30806°N 96.89306°W / 31.30806; -96.89306 (31.307975, -96.892975). Texas State Highway 6 runs along the eastern edge of the city, leading northwest 30 miles (48 km) to Waco and southeast 56 miles (90 km) to Bryan. Texas State Highway 7 runs through the center of town as Bridge Street and Live Oak Street, leading east 16 miles (26 km) to Kosse and west 10 miles (16 km) to Chilton.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.6 square miles (11.8 km2), of which 4.5 square miles (11.7 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 1.09%, is water.


Highways and other major roads

  • Texas State Highway 6, also known as Williams, Craik Streets in city limits
  • Texas State Highway 7, also known as Bridge, Live Oak Streets in city limits
  • Farm-to-market road 147, starts at Highway 7 and ends at Highway 14 less than four miles southwest of Groesbeck


Marlin and Falls County are served by the Marlin Municipal Airport, located 4 miles (6 km) northeast of the center of Marlin.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 500
1880 1,500 200.0%
1890 2,058 37.2%
1900 3,092 50.2%
1910 3,878 25.4%
1920 4,310 11.1%
1930 5,338 23.9%
1940 6,542 22.6%
1950 7,099 8.5%
1960 6,918 −2.5%
1970 6,351 −8.2%
1980 7,099 11.8%
1990 6,386 −10.0%
2000 6,628 3.8%
2010 5,967 −10.0%
2019 (est.) 5,581 −6.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 6,628 people, 2,415 households, and 1,509 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,465.4 people per square mile (566.2/km2). There were 2,826 housing units at an average density of 624.8 per square mile (241.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 41.84% White, 44.48% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.20% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 11.62% from other races, and 1.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 18.30% of the population.

There were 2,415 households, out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.7% were married couples living together, 22.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.5% were non-families. 34.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.21.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 33.2% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 21.3% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $21,443, and the median income for a family was $26,861. Males had a median income of $25,220 versus $18,111 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,555. About 27.9% of families and 31.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 40.8% of those under age 18 and 16.8% of those age 65 or over.



Marlinites have enjoyed the revival of the Marlin Music and Blues Festival since 2011. Originally the Wood Street Blues Festival from 2003 to 2005, the event was held in late May on consecutive days in honor of musician Blind Willie Johnson, a former resident of Marlin.

In May 2013, after a hiatus, the famous Marlin Festival Days returned to the city park.

Filmed in Marlin

  • Leadbelly (1976) starring Roger E. Mosley; took place on and around Wood Street.
  • Infamous (2006) starring Sandra Bullock; took place around Falls County Courthouse and run-down homes of Marlin.

Photo gallery


The climate in the area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Marlin has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.


The City of Marlin is served by the Marlin Independent School District.

Notable people

  • Danario Alexander, wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers, was born in Marlin and graduated from Marlin High School in 2006
  • Ken "Coach" Carter (second home), opened an unconventional boarding school in town in the fall of 2009 which has not been open for years and sits vacant
  • Ben Clarkson Connally was appointed a federal district judge by President Harry Truman
  • Tom Connally, U.S. senator, 1928–1952, was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during World War II, and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1918–1928
  • Bruce Curry, world champion boxer, was born in Marlin in 1956
  • Alice Glass, 1911–1976, wealthy socialite and one of the many mistresses of Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Bobbi Humphrey, jazz flautist and singer, was born in Marlin in 1950
  • Blind Willie Johnson, blues/gospel street musician, had Marlin as his attributed birthplace, although his birth records are lost; his birthplace has also been traced to Beaumont, Texas
  • Dan Kubiak, state representative, graduated from Marlin High School in 1957
  • Curtis Modkins, running backs coach for Chicago Bears, is a former offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers
  • O.L. Rapson was the first manager of the Grand Rapids Hotel and manager of a small store outside of Marlin
  • Bob (Robert Jasper) Reeves (1892–1960) was a Western movie actor
  • Ben Herbert Rice, Jr. Was a federal district judge appointed by President Harry Truman
  • LaDainian Tomlinson, the great San Diego Chargers and New York Jets running back, was born in Marlin; Tomlinson Hill, an unincorporated community just 5 miles (8 km) west of Marlin, is named for antebellum plantation owner James K. Tomlinson, from whom his slaves, including LaDainian Tomlinson's nineteenth century ancestors, took their name
  • Phil Wellman, minor league baseball player and manager, is infamous for a tirade against umpires after ejection

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