Thirty years ago, Waxahachie, Texas had a quiet population of 14,600. Nestled between Interstate 35 and Texas Highway 77, it was quaint and unassuming. The granite courthouse covered in Gothic faces stood in the center of downtown and gingerbread-style houses lined the streets.
Since my family moved there in 2003, the town has felt the Dallas metroplex stretching its seams. Big businesses have plastered their names on new buildings, and every few years another lane is added to the main road in town.
Six miles north of town near my house, it’s still pretty quiet. There is a donut shop with red siding and a sign that reads “DONUTS.” That’s the marker I describe for anyone coming to my house. Look for the donut shop, then turn left.
In the 1980s a group of physicists were lobbying Congress to approve the construction of the Superconducting Super Collider. The 54.1 mile-long loop of underground tunnels would have been the largest particle accelerator ever constructed, even larger than the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland.
In a move as unapparent as the town’s existence, the project’s site selection committee chose Waxahachie. They cited that the unique geological formation beneath the town provided a foundation that was “easy to bore and shape without compromising stability,” and so construction began.
By 1993 the budget was half-gone and no lobby in Congress could procure enough to complete the project. Speculators have blamed rising cost estimates, lack of presidential support, and even the collapse of the Soviet Union, but no one knows for sure.
Had the project been completed, the north segment of the tunnel would have been a mile north of my house. There is no doubt that the town’s economy and population would have skyrocketed. Maybe Dallas would be our suburb.
Either way, it seems that Waxahachie has lived up its soil’s reputation—it ebbs and grows with time. When I go home there is always something new, something different. But for now, when I see the donut shop, I turn left and find home.