In the beginning, it was only wide-open prairie, the hunting ground of the Karankawa Indian tribes, the winter feeding grounds of great herds of buffalo and large flocks of wild ducks, geese, sand hill and whooping cranes, and numerous other game birds, and home to longhorn cattle, deer and wolves.
Earliest settlement of the community known as Cane Island, for Cane Island Creek that runs through it, was in 1872. The town site of Katy was laid out and platted by J.O. Thomas, L.C. Luckel and R.M. Cash in 1895, supposedly named for the M-K-T Railroad, which was commonly referred to as “the K-T” (also its stock exchange symbol), that runs through it. This common designation soon evolved into “the Katy.”
The anticipations of prosperity would bring growth to the new town which was developed around the original train stop and railroad tracks. By the early 1900s many families had come by train and wagon to establish Katy. Cotton and peanuts and corn were the first successful crops, but rice soon became the primary commodity crop. Katy later became known for rice farming; the first concrete rice driers in the state of Texas were built here in 1944 and still stand as landmarks. The farming community well supported local businesses as several hotels, stores, livery stables and saloons were prospering.
A post office was opened in 1896, and even after the hurricane of 1900 that destroyed Galveston and also destroyed most of the buildings of Katy, it rebuilt and continued to grow.
Churches were formed and a school was built. The main industry was rice farming, but also peanuts and cotton. Katy Independent School District was formed in 1918, and a gas field was discovered in 1934. Many wells were dug, and this industry is still an important part of the city today.
The City of Katy was formally incorporated in 1945. Katy has always been a traditional, family style community, and it continues to offer residents the charm of a small town. Ancestral Homes of Katy were researched and historical markers erected by the local Texas Sesquicentennial Committee in 1986. The historical markers can be used as a guide for a walking or driving tour of more than a dozen historical homes and buildings in downtown Katy.
The construction and opening of Interstate 10 in 1966 allowed for rapid development of the area, as Houston expanded westward. This section was widened in 2008 to an average of 26 lanes, and in some areas 30 lanes total including 6 feeder and 4 HOV lanes for roughly 22 miles, making it the widest Freeway in the world. The population was 9,866 in 1988, 8,005 in 1990, 11,775 in 2000, and 15,591 in 2014. Currently Katy has grown to a population of well over 16,000 residents and almost 270,000 in the Greater Katy area. Katy has won national accolades for growth and sustainability including the Gadberry Group naming Katy as one of “9 from 2009” most notable high-growth areas in the United States.