Ruston City Hall
|Official name: City of Ruston|
|Elevation||331 ft (100.9 m)|
|Area||18.2 sq mi (47.1 km2)|
|- land||18.1 sq mi (47 km2)|
|- water||0.1 sq mi (0 km2), 0.55%|
|Density||1,201.04 / sq mi (463.7 / km2)|
|- summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
Ruston is a small city in and the parish seat of Lincoln Parish, Louisiana, United States. it is the sixth-largest city in the Ark-La-Tex region. The population was 21,859 at the 2010 census, which represents an increase of 6.4 percent from the 2000 tabulation of 20,546. Ruston is near the eastern border of the Ark-La-Tex region and is the home of Louisiana Tech University. Its economy hence is based on its college population. Ruston hosts the annual Peach Festival.
Ruston is the principal city of the Ruston Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Lincoln and Jackson parishes. The current mayor, first elected in 1998, is Dan Hollingsworth, an Independent.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.2 square miles (47 km2), of which, 18.1 square miles (47 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.44%) is water.
During the Reconstruction era following the Civil War, word soon reached the young parish near what is now Ruston, that the Vicksburg, Shreveport, and Pacific Railroad would begin to run across north Louisiana, linking the Deep South with the West (the current operator is Kansas City Southern Railway). Robert Edwin Russ, the Lincoln Parish sheriff from 1877–1880, donated 640 acres (2.6 km2) to the town and this area was eventually known as Ruston (shorthand for Russ town).
In 1883, commercial and residential lots were created and sold for $375 apiece; and soon the sawing of lumber and clacking of hammers could be heard throughout the area.
As the town began to take shape, new churches, businesses, civic organizations and schools were being established. Cotton farming fueled the economy. In 1900 a second railroad, running north and south, was built through Ruston (the operator before the tracks were removed was Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad). This brought even more business and industry to the area and the population continued to provide a foundation for the local economy. By the time the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, Ruston was established as a center for learning, a place of civic pride and as an area of economic prosperity throughout the region.
Ruston grew steadily during the post-World War II years. The GI Bill of Rights sent war veterans to college, helped to fuel the local economy, brought growth to the two local universities, Louisiana Tech University and nearby historically black Grambling State University, and new families moved into Lincoln Parish. By the middle 1960s, Interstate 20 passed through the northern part of Ruston. This coast-to-coast highway made Ruston more easily accessible, much as the railroad had done a century earlier. In the 1980s, the state of Louisiana economy declined as the oil industry went into a recession.
Ruston, however, continued growing steadily because of the rapid expansion of Louisiana Tech. The city also had its centennial celebration during this decade, and emphasis was placed on revitalizing the historic downtown district. A joint effort between the city and the Louisiana Main Street Program and the Louisiana Department of Historic Preservation brought forth beautification projects to rehabilitate the downtown district, and helped draw the community closer to its roots. More than fifteen buildings have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city has a new general aviation airport to serve existing business and industry, and the timber, poultry and cattle industries continue to expand.
As of the census of 2000, there were 20,546 people, 7,621 households, and 4,244 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,136.4 people per square mile (438.8/km²). There were 8,397 housing units at an average density of 464.5 per square mile (179.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 56.94% White, 38.92% African American, 0.17% Native American, 2.41% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.63% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.29% of the population.
There were 7,621 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.0% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.3% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the city the population consisted of 20.8% under the age of 18, 31.6% from 18 to 24, 21.3% from 25 to 44, 14.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24.0 years, far below the state median age of 34.0 years. For every 100 females there were 92.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $23,001, and the median income for a family was $37,394. Males had a median income of $33,408 versus $20,413 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,573. About 22.1% of families and 32.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.1% of those under age 18 and 17.6% of those age 65 or over.
Louisiana Tech University enrolled 11,710 in 2005. It is a doctoral institution focusing on technical and professional disciplines.
Bethel Christian School is located in Ruston.
Culture and Recreation
Most cultural activities are offered through Louisiana Tech. Also there are shops downtown, chain restaurants in the city, and an eight-screen Celebrity Theater. Other university-based opportunities exist at Grambling (6 miles) and Monroe (35 miles). The Louisiana Tech University Arboretum interests many visitors.
Early in 2007, the city initiated a blueprint for future growth and development of the Ruston area. Known as "Ruston 21", the plan will evaluate the assets of the community and the ways to achieve goals. It will look citywide at residential development and neighborhoods, recreation planning, transportation issues, economic development, infrastructure concerns, quality of life, and working collaboratively with Louisiana Tech University.
Ruston is served by the Ruston Daily Leader newspaper.
Until the 1940s, most area peach farming had been done on a small-scale family basis. In 1947, area peach growers organized the Louisiana Fruit Growers Association and held the first festival four years later on June 27–28, 1951. On that occasion, Justin Wilson, the popular south Louisiana chef and Cajun humorist entertained the audience at Howard Auditorium on the Louisiana Tech campus. Then State Senator Dudley J. LeBlanc of Abbeville in Vermilion Parish, the promoter of the patent medicine known as Hadacol, was invited to crown the first Peach Festival Queen, Ann Colvin of Bernice in Union Parish.
The festival sponsors races of 5K and 1M and a tennis tournament played on the Louisiana Tech courts.
Pop culture references
- Jack Kerouac refers to Ruston in his book On the Road.
- Ruston is also the hometown of Robert Schneider, frontman of The Apples in Stereo. He attended Ruston High School.
- The longstanding Dixie Theater in Ruston is featured in a 1999 article in the publication North Louisiana History.
- Ruston is mentioned several times in the HBO series True Blood. A vampire on the series is seen wearing a Louisiana Tech Bulldogs sweatshirt.
- Trace Adkins, Country singer who attended Louisiana Tech; originally from Sarepta
- Stephen Babcock, high-profile Louisiana trial lawyer who attended Ruston High School, and Louisiana Tech University.
- C.E. Byrd, president of Louisiana Tech, and founder of C.E. Byrd High School in Shreveport.
- C.E. "Cap" Barham, attorney, state senator, and lieutenant governor
- Charles C. Barham, attorney and former state senator
- Leon Barmore, basketball coach who was born and reared in Ruston, played basketball at Louisiana Tech
- George W. Bond, president of Louisiana Tech University from 1929 to 1936
- Terry Bradshaw, member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, attended Louisiana Tech
- Kix Brooks, country music singer, who attended Louisiana Tech.
- P.J. Brown, current NBA player, attended Louisiana Tech
- Mary Elizabeth Talbot Busbee (1927-2012), the First Lady of Georgia from 1975 to 1983, was born and reared in Ruston. Known as "Mary Beth", she was a medical technologist and a graduate of Louisiana Tech. Her husband was the late Democratic Governor George D. Busbee.
- John Ardis Cawthon, education professor and regional historian at Louisiana Tech University
- John R. Conniff, educator, president of Louisiana Tech from 1926 to 1928
- Claybrook Cottingham, president of Louisiana College from 1910–1941, and Louisiana Tech president from 1941 until his death in 1949
- Paul M. Davis, Jr., orthopedic surgeon and real estate developer in Alexandria, was born in Ruston in 1919.
- Fred Dean, NFL Hall of Fame, attended Ruston High and Louisiana Tech
- Hollis Downs former state representative; financial analyst; Louisiana Tech professor
- Clarence Faulk, newspaper publisher, radio broadcaster, businessman
- W. C. Friley, founder of Ruston College in late 1880s, a forerunner of Louisiana Tech; later president of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and Louisiana College in Pineville, succeeded there in 1910 by Claybrook Cottingham
- Billy Guin, Louisiana Republican Party pioneer from Shreveport; reared in his early youth in Ruston
- Will Cullen Hart Indie rock musician, visual artist, and founding member of the Elephant Six Collective and The Olivia Tremor Control, and leader of Circulatory System, attended Ruston High School and was a disc jockey at Louisiana Tech's radio station KLPI
- Wiley W. Hilburn, journalist and author
- Berry Hinton, baseball coach and Louisiana Tech alumni secretary
- George B. Holstead, state representative from Lincoln Parish (1964–1980)
- Sonja Hogg, founding coach of the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters
- John S. Hunt, III, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner from 1964–1972, was born in Ruston.
- Bert Jones, former NFL player, attended Ruston High School
- Dub Jones, former NFL player, attended Ruston High.
- K.D. Kilpatrick, mortician and former member of the Louisiana State Senate
- Karl Malone, Basketball Hall of Famer, attended Louisiana Tech, currently lives in Ruston
- Jeff Mangum, Indie rock musician and founding member of the Elephant Six Collective and Neutral Milk Hotel, attended Ruston High School and was a disc jockey at Louisiana Tech's radio station KLPI
- Garnie W. McGinty, Louisiana historia
- Paul Millsap, current NBA player, attended Louisiana Tech
- E. R. Minchew, educator
- Ryan Moats, athlete, attended Louisiana Tech
- Robert W. Mondy, historian of early years of Lincoln Parish and the American frontier
- Luke McCown, NFL quarterback, attended Louisiana Tech
- Kim Mulkey, current head women's basketball coach at Baylor University, whose career as a player at Louisiana Tech placed her in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
- L.D. "Buddy" Napper, attorney, former state representative, and minor league baseball player
- Virgil Orr, former state representative; Louisiana Tech vice president
- Morgan D. Peoples, historian
- Elton C. Pody, mayor of Ruston from 1983 to 1991
- Arthur T. Prescott, educator and founding president from 1894 to 1899 of Louisiana Tech University
- Patrick Ramsey, athlete, attended Ruston High
- Tim Rattay, athlete, attended Louisiana Tech
- E.S. Richardson, president of Louisiana Tech from 1936–1941
- Willie Roaf, NFL Hall of Fame player, attended Louisiana Tech
- Scotty Robertson, high school, college, and professional basketball coach, died in Ruston in 2011
- W. C. Robinson, mathematics professor and second president of Louisiana Tech from 1899 to 1900
- Jimmy G. Shoalmire, historian, Ruston resident, 1958–1967
- Robert C. Snyder, English professor at Louisiana Tech, a founder of the Lincoln Parish Library
- Matt Stover, current NFL player, attended Louisiana Tech
- George Stone, former National League pitcher with the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets.
- Josh Scobee, current NFL player, attended Louisiana Tech
- Don Shows, football coach
- Mickey Slaughter, former NFL quarterback, attended, and later coached football for, Louisiana Tech
- Polly Smith, photographer
- Robert Schneider, Indie rock musician, record producer, founding member of the Elephant Six Collective, and frontman of The Apples in Stereo, attended Ruston High School
- Lawson Swearingen, reared in Ruston, former state senator, president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and professor of management at Southeastern Louisiana University
- F. Jay Taylor, president of Louisiana Tech, 1962–1987
- David William Thomas lived in Ruston during the early 1930s while he headed the Louisiana Tech Journalism Department
- William Y. Thompson, historian
- Robert O. Trout, sociologist
- A. L. Williams, retired football coach
- Kyle Williams, current NFL player, attended Ruston High
- John D. Winters, historian of the American Civil War
- Kenny Wright, 9-year NFL DB.(Minnesota Vikings 1999-2001, Houston Texans 2002-2004, Jacksonville Jaguars 2005, Washington Redskins 2006, and Cleveland Browns 2007)
- John "JR" Ramsey, former state champion in debate, current USC student, attended Ruston High
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Ruston (city), Louisiana". quickfacts.census.gov. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Robert E. Russ". lahistory.org. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "62nd Peach Festival in Ruston June 22", The Piney Woods Journal, June 2012, pp. 15, 17-18
- Erin Toler, "The Dixie Theater of Ruston," North Louisiana History, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Winter 1999), pp. 3-15
- "Mary Beth Busbee". Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 5, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
- Henry E. Chambers, A History of Louisiana, Vol. 2 (Chicago and New York City: American Historical Society, 1925), pp. 53-54
- Henry E. Chambers, A History of Louisiana, Vol. 2 (Chicago and New York City: American Historical Society, 1925), pp. 313-314
- Ruston Daily Leader, October 11, 1933, p. 20
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