Katy began as a wide-open prairie known as “Cane Island,” named after a branch of the Buffalo Bayou that ran through the area filled with tall cane. (Interestingly, cane is not native to the area. It may have been planted there by Karankawa Indians or Spanish explorers.)
In 1845, James Crawford received a land grant to settle the area, but a combination of hot summers and thick clay soil initially made the area unappealing to new settlers and the area was slow to grow.
The arrival of the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad – the first railroad to enter Texas from the north -- was to change Katy’s course. (In fact, the MKT, commonly referred to as “the KT,” is the likely inspiration for the city’s name “Katy.”)
The MKT was built through the area by the end of 1893, the first railroad agent took up his duties in that location in 1895 and a depot was completed by 1898.
On September 8, 1900, the building efforts of the late 1800s were swept away by the Great Galveston Hurricane. The hurricane winds were so strong that they reached – and destroyed – nearly all of Katy’s buildings. Rather than abandon the area, the Katy community joined together and chose to rebuild. Telephone lines went up, a water system went in, and a hotel, stable and saloon soon followed.
In addition, William Eule introduced rice farming to the dry-land farmers, and the farming community became prosperous enough to support local businesses.
The discovery well for the Katy gas field was drilled in 1934, ultimately giving rise to a plant for extracting liquid hydrocarbons from gas. During World War II, the size of the plant’s reserves together with the proximity of Houston refineries made Katy the most important gas-condensate field in the United States.
Development of the Katy gas field increased the population in Katy, and the city incorporated in 1945 with its first mayor and two councilmen.
The Greater Katy Area
As the city of Katy grew, so did the area surrounding the city -- so much so that today the population of the City of Katy (17,000) is actually quite small compared to the population of the area known as “the Greater Katy” area (340,000).
Roughly, the Greater Katy area covers the suburbs that surround the Katy city limits west to Pederson road, roughly east to State Highway 6, north to FM 529 and south to FM 1093/ Westpark Tollway Parkway.
Current projections show the population of Greater Katy will grow to 391,000 by 2022.