KRUM — There’s something extraordinary about the small city of Krum that keeps those who grew up here coming back and inspires newcomers to come and explore.

This city of 5,000 — 7 miles northwest of Denton and 42 miles northeast of Fort Worth — put itself on the map in a big way with its early 1900s agricultural feats and award-winning grain mills. Today, it continues to impress with its growing neighborhoods and schools; new library, fire station and public works building; and ambitious 10-year plan for its parks.

Elbow room and more

The 2011 book Krum (Images of America Series) by Della Davis and George Hubbard of the Krum Historical Society explains what the city has to offer: “Krum is a wonderful place to live. Outstanding schools along with parks and playgrounds help make it a good place to raise a family. A well-stocked library and a weekly newspaper connect the citizens with the world, and a newly opened historical museum reminds residents of their heritage. Although the mills and gins are now gone, Krum still serves northwest Denton County in agriculture as well as in banking, public safety services, public education and restaurants.”

City Planner Tom Elgin says, “Krum is unique in that it has the positive aspects of a Texas small town — a distinct downtown, a good school district, approachable people with direct ties to Krum’s heritage, a relaxing pace and ‘elbow room’ to move around — and yet, unlike most small towns, Krum is in close proximity to major Denton and Alliance business employment centers.”

The city’s employers include C&G Electric, Krum Independent School District and the city of Krum. The 10-year Parks & Open Space Master Plan estimates that the city’s population could nearly double by 2037 — around 5% growth each year. Elgin anticipates that the growth will fuel the light industrial, retail and service businesses in town as well.

Forward momentum

The city has approved three housing developments in the past two years, including Hopkins Meadows by Impression Homes, Fowler Farm by D.R. Horton and Brisa Meadows by Brisa Properties. According to Krum requirements, these and all new developments will provide open space and invest in trails, playground equipment and other park improvements.

“Open space is critical to maintain Krum’s rural feel and helps preserve existing watersheds and tree cover” as well as provides entertainment and health benefits, Elgin says.

In addition to city parks, Krum is planning a network of off-road hiking and bike trails — located along watersheds and parallel to major roadways — that will connect residential areas, schools, parks and downtown. A portion of Krum’s local sales tax collections is devoted for park purposes.

“There’s a lot of investment in the community here,” Elgin says, citing a new public works building, library, a 3-year-old wastewater treatment plant and a 2-year-old fire station.

“We’re proud of our new library,” he says. “It’s about a year old now. It’s pretty neat for a tiny town with less than 5,000 people to have their own stand-alone library. It’s got a public meeting space, and Director Donna Pierce does a lot of programming with just a few people and has a good physical collection of books and other publications.

“It’s also unusual that a small town has a mostly paid fire department. We have a new fire station that’s about 2 years old.” The fire and police departments and emergency medical services all offer full-time services, he says, which is uncommon for a city this size.

World’s largest inland grain market

No one could have predicted the vibrant, growing city that Krum would become when the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad established the town site in 1886. Like many small Texas towns, it was named for a railroad official, in this case Charles K. Krum, but details about him remain a mystery.

Kathryn Dodd, a prolific author with the Krum Historical Society who shares her Museum Musings on the Krum Heritage Museum website, continues to search for information about Mr. Krum. Other members of the Historical Society, including Janice Cole Callarman, whose family history in Krum dates to its founding, are also fascinated by this mysterious man.

“I fear I will go to my grave not knowing who Mr. Krum was and where he came from,” Dodd says.

Yet despite the ambiguity surrounding its namesake, Krum made its name known far and wide by taking advantage of the area’s rich prairie soil to grow an abundance of wheat and other grains. More than a million pounds of grain was shipped out in 1900, and Krum became known as the largest inland grain market in the world. Shipments went out weekly to buyers all over the world. Krum’s superior quality wheat won prizes in many fairs, including a grand prize for its Rainbow Flour at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

“The grain elevator is still here,” Callarman says, referring to the historic grain elevator built in 1927. It replaced a smaller wood and galvanized steel elevator built in 1904. By the 1990s, it was unsuitable for grain and transformed into a residence. “That was my father’s business. He came here as a boy in the very late 1880s.”

Her father, R.L. Cole, was an influential figure in Krum’s history. He established R.L. Cole Grain & Elevator Co. By 1912, it was the leading grain and cotton dealer in Denton County. Over the next several years, he added a filling station, oil supply company and coal yard to the town.

Callarman taught school in Illinois for 40 years but returned to Krum with her husband in 2000. “Of course, I grew up here, so it’s just good to be home,” she says. “I’m in the [1905] house I grew up in. I’m back where I belong.”

Visitor highlights

City Secretary Andrea Dzioba says, “I love that even though our city is growing, we still have a small-town feel and families that have been here since the very beginning. It is a city with a lot of history and pride.”

Dzioba and Elgin recommend that visitors stop into the town’s stores and restaurants. “I do like to go and see what new things JoyGrace & Co. has in their downtown boutique,” Dzioba says. “We have a number of great places to eat in the city. Tudy’s Kitchen, located in the Outback Market, has amazing breakfast tacos. Lunch downtown is always good at Portofino’s if you are in the mood for Italian, and Andy’s has wonderful cheeseburgers and fries. If you are in the mood for Mexican food, Miguelito’s can’t be beat.”

When you’re finished shopping and eating, the Krum Heritage Museum is an absolute must-see. Members of the Historical Society, which now owns the museum, staff the attraction every Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Upon entering the museum, you’ll first see the old teller cages and granite walls from the Merchants Bank that used to occupy the building. The first floor also features a 1904 buggy, a 1940s model of the town, a military wall of honor, schoolroom and more.

On the second floor are railroad, farm and telephone exhibits as well as pictures of some of Krum’s families, including R.L. Cole. “The big second-story room takes you back in time with a parlor, a dining room, a bedroom, a kitchen and many other items,” Dodd says.

The museum is maintained entirely by donations and volunteer labor and welcomes residents who would like to help preserve Krum’s unique history. Previous generous donations have supported repairs and modern updates to the 1909 building, including the addition of an elevator to the second floor, but more help is always needed.

Every time a major repair is needed, someone who grew up in Krum or was passing through to visit the old family farm comes through with support for the museum just when it’s most needed. Families also bring in photos and historic items to contribute to the stories it tells.

“It’s almost like that building is blessed,” Callarman says.

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