Pointing The Way Since 1845
From its early beginnings over 150 years ago, Pilot Point has been a unique community strategically located in the gentle rolling hills north of Dallas, Texas. As the oldest settlement in Denton County, Pilot Point served as a anchor point on trails used by both Indians who initially settled the area, and eventually by settlers heading west.
The highest point of land in the area was a small hill on which the city square is now located. Oak trees covered much of the hill. Standing tall above the oaks was a magnificent cottonwood tree that could be seen from a great distance.
This high, wooded point of land was a landmark for the Indians and later for rangers, scouts, and other travelers guiding them across the sprawling trackless land. The landmark became known as Pilot's Point. Gradually the name was changed to Pilot Point. A short distance to the north was Dripping Springs, which provided excellent water and a pleasant campground.
As early as 1845, two years before Denton County was organized settlers began making their homes near the "Pilot's Point," situated on the edge of the Cross Timbers Section of Texas. These settlers had migrated form Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri to establish themselves on either the rich, endless black land prairies of the east or the expanses, of sandy wooded land to the west.
Progress & Development
The spirit of progress and the desire for orderly development was present in the people of Pilot Point. In 1872, the Pilot Point Seminary was established. It attracted local students as well as those living outside the area. It was a fine institution of learning. In 1892 the name was changed to Franklin College, an outstanding subscription school with fifteen teachers serving primary grades through college. The birth of public schools in 1894 led to the gradual decline of enrollment at Franklin College, which ceased operation in 1900.
Pilot Point was on the route of the Butterfield Stage, which brought the mail. In 1877 the first telegraph lines came through. It ran from Sherman west through Pilot Point along "Wire Road," which is now known as FM 1192. The telegraph line extended to a government post at Jacksboro. Pilot Point's first telegrapher was Ed Reaves. He was the son-in-law of the former Governor Throckmorton, and later was the chief telegrapher at the White House.
First Brick Building
Using brick made locally, John Merchant in 1872 erected on the northeast corner of the square, the first brick building in Denton County. Soon all the businesses and houses around the square were replaced with brick buildings.
The town's first newspaper The Post appeared on August 31, 1878. The Post's successor, through several consolidations through the years, was The Post-Signal. It still covers the news of Pilot Point and surrounding areas.
In the autumn of 1880 the first train rolled through Pilot Point over the newly constructed line of the Texas and Pacific Railroad. Under a lease arrangement the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas railway ran over the same track. This gave pilot point excellent passenger and freight service for many years. A cotton gin was built by Henry Selz and J.P. Cooper. It was the largest gin in the United States at the time. The first bank in town was privately owned. It opened in 1884,and eight years later it became the Pilot Point National Bank. The bank continues to serve Pilot Point today, but is now know as Point Bank.
Rich In History
Serving as the site for many movies, the city is as rich in history as they come. From early Indian settlements, to western settlers, cattle drives, stage routes, to historic homes and building - we are living history. The Pilot Point Square has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2007 (see details about the buildings downtown at the Visit Pilot Point Historic Walking Tour).
Pilot Point may be best known as being the site of one of the bank robbery scenes from the 1967 film Bonnie & Clyde. Due to this and the numerous other films that have been filmed in the area, the Texas Film Commission recognized us as a Film Friendly Community in 2021.
Bonnie & Clyde also sparked Pilot Point's most popular festival: Bonnie & Clyde Days! For one day in October, we remember the days when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway walked the streets while filming at the F&M Bank Building at the corner of Washington and Main Streets. See details on this festival