In 1837, a county was formed and named after a small fort located on a bend along the Brazos River – Fort Bend. Prior to the Civil War, Richmond, the county seat, was a prosperous agricultural center, sending products such as cotton and sugar down the river to the Port of Galveston. That all changed after the Civil War, and a period of great economic hardship took hold. In the late 1800s through the early 1900s, ranches populated the area. The discovery of petroleum in the 1920s gave the county a new economic focus. The county caught the eye of organized crime for a brief period in the 1950s, and the Texas Rangers worked hard to get rid of the brothels and illegal casinos that cropped up.
From its colorful and rocky beginnings, Fort Bend County has become a powerhouse – it is one of the fastest-growing counties in the country. It is considered part of the Houston metro area. Richmond is a relatively small riverfront city with Old West flair. Its downtown area is a historic district–stroll down these streets and it’s easy to imagine cowboys on horses riding through the streets. Other structures in the Richmond Historic District include the police department, the courthouse, Decker Park, and the Fort Bend Museum Complex.
The largest city in Fort Bend County is Sugar Land. As one of the fastest-growing and wealthiest cities in Texas, it has grown more than 150 percent in the last decade. The city’s name gives away its origins – it began as a sugar plantation in the early 20th century. Sugar is still important, and the headquarters of Imperial Sugar is located here. Despite its “sweet” reputation, Sugar Land has consistently been named the fittest city in Texas. It makes other “top” lists as well, including being named a top place to live. It is home to the University of Houston-Sugar Land.
Other communities in Fort Bend County include Mission Bend, Pecan Grove, Cinco Ranch, Four Corners, Pleak, Booth, Long Point, Powell Point, and Crabb.