Waco wā´kō [key], city (1990 pop. 103,590), seat of McLennan co., E central Tex., on the Brazos River, just below the mouth of the Bosque; inc. 1856. It is a rail junction and a trading, shipping, and industrial center. Agriculture and livestock raising are important to the economy, and there is diverse manufacturing. The Huecos (Wacos) once had villages there, and the site had attracted other settlers years before the city was laid out in 1849. Rich blacklands supported cotton plantations and cattle ranches before the Civil War, but the city suffered a severe decline after the war. Prosperity returned when its suspension bridge (still a tourist attraction) was built across the Brazos (1870) and the railroad arrived (1881). The huge Cameron Park and artificial Lake Waco (created 1923) on the nearby Bosque provide much recreation. Waco is the seat of Baylor Univ. Points of interest include several historic homes, a reconstructed Texas Ranger fort (built 1837), and Waco Mammoth National Monument. On Feb. 28, 1993, a deadly shootout near Waco between federal officers and Branch Davidians, a Christian sect headed by David Koresh, led to a 51-day siege that ended in a blaze. More than 80 people died, most in the fire that started after Koresh's followers spread fuel throughout their compound.
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