Copper Canyon History

Modern day Copper Canyon came about in April of 1973. At that time several residents got together and decided to incorporate the Town in order to preserve the rural atmosphere of the community. The first Mayor was Robert Woodin. The first Town Council (founding fathers) was Robert (Bob) Shackelford, Bill Ferris, Arthur Huston, Paul Vickery, Don Colby and Betty Harmon. The first Town Marshall was Robert Shackelford. Council Meetings were held in homes until 1978 when several residents got together and built the current Town Hall at 400 Woodland Drive. The developer of the Woodlands Addition donated the land. Resident, Bill Ferris headed up a unique group of people and the Town Hall was built on donations. Community spirit in the Town was a wonderful asset and continues to be the bond that brings the residents together and makes Copper Canyon what it is today.

The Town is governed by a Mayor-Council form of government. The Mayor and Council are elected by the residents (registered voters) and serve two (2) year terms of office. Copper Canyon is a general law city that operates under the laws of the State of Texas. Ordinances have been passed to protect the safety and welfare of the residents, enhance property values and offer a comfortable setting for those who live here.

Town Council meetings are the 2nd Monday of the month at 7:00pm. Citizen involvement and participation in the Park Committee, Planning and Zoning Commission, Board of Adjustment, and Road Advisory Commission is vital to the operation of the Town.

Important facts on our Town:
  • Located in Denton County
  • Population 1,300
  • 4.25 square miles
  • Low Tax rate of $0.301713 per $100 valuation
  • Lewisville and Denton School Districts
  • Water supplied by Bartonville Water Supply
  • Served by Argyle Volunteer Fire Department,
  • Police protection provided by the Denton County Sheriff's Department
  • Mayor and Council form of government elected by the registered voters
  • Residents can enjoy camping, picnics, boating a Pilot Knoll park
  • Horse trails that are maintained for the enjoyment of equestrian riders
  • Local phone service is Verizon
  • Electrical service is provided by Co-Serv Electric

For more information about Copper Canyon, please visit the North Central Texas Council of Governments web page on our town.

A Short History of the Town of Copper Canyon, Texas by Shirley B. Faile, Ph.D. - 1998

The Town of Copper Canyon, Texas is very young, but it is situated on land with an old pioneer history. The cool fresh water of Murphy, Loving, and Lockhart Springs continues to flow from underground today in Copper Canyon, just has it did over 150 years ago when the area was settled by pioneer farming families who arrived in covered wagons to claim the land. To the pioneer settlers, it was the "land of milk and honey," free land on the western frontier. To the Native Americans, it was their "happy hunting ground" and temporary home for the part of the year as they moved from place to place following the great herds of migrating buffalo. The prairie grasses covered the rich plains like the rolling waves of the sea. Deer, turkey, prairie chickens, fish, and honey from the bee trees were abundant. Mustang grape, little fox grape, persimmon, plum, pecan, hickory, walnut, and red and black haws enriched the diet of those who gathered them from the wild. The area was especially attractive due to plentiful fresh water, fertile soil, hardwood timber, and abundant game.

The modern day Town of Copper Canyon now located on this land was incorporated on April 23, 1973. The population was approximately 200 people. Copper Canyon is located approximately six miles west of Lewisville, which was founded in 1884. Today commercial development centers in Lewisville along the I35 East Corridor. The seat of county government is located fourteen miles north of Copper Canyon in Denton, Texas. Copper Canyon is bordered by Highland Village, Flower Mound, Double Oak, Bartonville, and Argyle. The northern boundary of Copper Canyon is Orchid Hill Lane; the southern boundary is FM 407 (Justin Road); the eastern boundary is Chinn Chapel Road; and the western boundary is Copper Canyon Road. The Town of Copper Canyon is governed by elected town council members and an elected mayor. The first mayor was Robert B. Woodin. The first town Marshal was Bob Shackelford. The town Council works to regulate planned development, enact laws, which preserve the rights and responsibilities of citizens, and ensure the safety of those within the town. There is a strong commitment to preserving the rural atmosphere enjoyed by the residents. There is no commercial development within the town. Copper Canyon Town Hall is located at 400 Woodland Drive. Services available to the citizens of Copper Canyon include fire and ambulance protection by the Argyle Volunteer Fire Department, police protection by the Denton County Sheriff's Department, water by the Bartonville Water Supply Corporation, electricity by CoServ Electric Cooperative, and public education by Lewisville Independent School District. Citizens enjoy picnics, fishing, boating and camping at Pilot Knoll State Park. A number of citizens own horses and enjoy riding the horse trails nearby. The Copper Canyon Town Hall was completed in 1979. Land for the town hall was donated by the developer of The Woodlands, a housing subdivision within Copper Canyon. Citizens donated funds for the building materials for the town hall, and they also labored together to construct the building.

This cooperative spirit is a tradition begun by the pioneer settlers over 150 years ago in what is now Copper Canyon. Mr. and Mrs. Elisha Chinn (Mary Stowe Chinn) left their home in North Carolina and traveled in their covered wagon with their family, livestock, and their slaves to Alabama where they joined a wagon train headed for Texas, arriving in 1852. The fifth settlement of pioneers who had received land grants from the Republic of Texas to Peter's Colony already had been established in the area in 1845, the year Texas became the twenty-eight state of the Union. A pioneer named Smith first owned property in what is now the center of Copper Canyon. He sold it to Abraham S. Loving in 1847, and Loving sold it to Elisha Chinn in 1853.

The Chinns' new home was part of the first large effort to settle the western frontier, and it was essentially a farming community. They settled near the main road cut into the dirt by wagon wheels, horses' hooves, and foot travel where Lockhart Spring crossed the road and ran into Hickory Creek. Near the northern boundary of our modern day Town of Copper Canyon lies a deep, rocky canyon where the early settlers found good building and chimney rocks. The large flat rocks were used both for the foundations and the chimneys of the early log cabins of this area. Some of the old rock chimneys are still standing. These were much better than the more easily built "mud cat" chimneys, which were built with sticks and mud. They often caught fire and destroyed the entire cabin.

The area was also blessed with abundant surface and shallow water. At the mouth of the deep, rocky canyon was a large freshwater spring known as Murphy Spring, which was vital to the survival of settlers and travelers, as well as the Native Americans who had villages nearby. The head to the canyon may be located today. It lies northwest of Orchid Hill Lane and south of Poindexter Creek to the top of the hill, which was called Murphy Hill. Settlers who gathered rocks there for building their cabins' chimneys and foundations had to be especially careful. Legend has it that the canyon was known as "Copperhead Canyon!"

Another important water source was Lockhart Spring, which served as a gathering place for the women of the community whose job it was to wash clothes there and to haul fresh water home for household use. Large wooden barrels were used as no wells had yet been dug. One or two women guarded with their guns while the others worked at the spring. There was danger from the plentiful wild animals that filled the area, such as bear and panther, and there was also danger from Native American enemies who traveled through the area. W.B. Brown, who arrived in 1854, recalled "a running Indian fight" at a grove near the Chinn home near Lockhart Spring. The chief tribes of the area were the Cherokees, Choctaws, and Commanches.

Four Women of the area became friends as they met regularly at Lockhart Spring to wash clothes: Mrs. Elisha Chinn (Mary Stowe Chinn, 1808-1871), Mrs. Silas Pinckley (Elizabeth Comer Pinckley, 1799-1867), Mrs. Samuel B. Wakefield (Jane Pinckley Wakefield, 1826-1871) and Mrs. Abraham Loving (Susannah Pipkin Loving, 1815-1884). The four friends wanted a church in which to worship God. They had a Bible. Mrs. Chinn had brought her family Bible with her in the covered wagon. (It is now in the rare manuscript library at Southern Methodist University, Bridwell Library.) A congregation of worshipers had gathered under the trees for outdoor worship since 1846 whenever a traveling preacher passed through, though this did not occur very often. Runners were then sent out to the cabins of the settlement, which were miles apart, and people gathered to spend a day and a night camping at the worship site. Mary, Elizabeth, Jane, and Susannah also wanted a building near Lockhart Spring in which they could take shelter when in danger. There was also a need for a temporary home for new families while they were building their own cabins. The women also care about education and felt the need for a school for the children. Together they convinced their husbands and the other settlers in the community to hew one post oak log and bring it every time they came to the spring. The Chinn family donated ten acres atop a hill 300 yards north of Lockhart Spring, overlooking the beautiful spring-fed valley below through which the main thoroughfare passes. When enough logs were gathered, a day was appointed in 1858 and the community came together to build a log cabin, which could be used in all the ways, the women had envisioned.

They called the log cabin chapel "Antioch," and it became the center of social, religious, and educational life in the community. People of all faiths worshipped there. Children went to school there, but only for a few months of the year. Families lived there while they were building their own cabins. If a preacher passed through, they had to set their furniture outdoors and camp there until several days of worship were concluded. Then they moved back in. The settlers endured many hardships due to extremes of weather, which is the same in North Texas today, but then they had no doctors, and medical treatment was primitive. When a death occurred, the person was usually buried near the log cabin chapel. The log cabin was still in use after the turn of the century in the 1900's. In 1998 ninety-two year old Ruby Cone recalled, "When my family returned from Turkey, Texas, after picking cotton, to the Chinn's Chapel area, I was about six-months-old. While waiting to find a farm to lease or buy, my family lived in the Chinn's Chapel log cabin. It provided shelter to many people in North Central Texas during time of need ... After my father found a farm to lease, we moved out of the cabin to a home less than a mile away. I attended school in the cabin as well as church services, funerals, weddings and other social events there through the years." When the Christians worshipping in the log cabin were offered the service of a Methodist circuit rider preacher who would arrive regularly about once every three months, they sought membership in the Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Admitted in 1872, they renamed the log cabin "Chinn's Chapel Methodist Church" in honor of the Chinn Family. They held their early day camp meetings in the valley below. In August, the most convenient time in the agricultural calendar, nearly all the settlers from miles around arrived in wagons bearing tents, cooking pots, bedding, fuel, and food, and there they camped for two weeks, enjoying outdoor worship, sharing food, and talking with one another about farm life, such as planting crops, hiving bees, birthing babies, and caring for livestock. Everyone looked forward all year long to camp meeting at Chinn Chapel Campground, and so the road beside it which was part of the main road from Southern Denton County to the county seat, was called Chinn's Chapel Road. The area was well known in Denton County as the Chinn's Chapel Community. The Chinn's Chapel Log Cabin is still standing today in the Chinn's Chapel Cemetery on Chinn Chapel Road. (The apostrophe 's' was probably dropped from "Chinn's" when the road was paved and a road sign put up because the name is easier to pronounce without the 's'.) The Chinn's Chapel Log Cabin is believed to be the oldest church and school in Denton County. It has come to represent the values of the pioneer farming families who settled what is now Copper Canyon: their love of family, God, and country, their spirit of community cooperation, solving problems with a know-how that comes from living on the land, and their respect for the richness and beauty of the rural Texas landscape. Citizens of the Town of Copper Canyon today still enjoy the richness and beauty of the fertile land covered with wildflowers in the spring, the old growth post oak trees, some now measuring four feet wide, and the clear cool waters of Murphy, Loving and Lockhart Springs, which still flow in Copper Canyon today.

Important changes have come in the past to the area that is now known as Copper Canyon. During the 1860's and 1870's, large herds of cattle were driven north from Texas to railroad centers in the Midwest where they were shipped to markets in the East. Susannah Pipkin Loving was a relative of the famed Loving family of cattlemen who later drove great herds to market on Goodnight-Loving Trail. Some of the area in what is now Copper Canyon was then used for cattle ranching. Cowboys left the community for part of the year to drive the herds to market. Their lonely jobs, difficult work, and their part in building the American West have given them great importance in the cultural background of our country. The cattle plodded along with riders ahead, behind, and on both sides. The cowboys had to be able to get the herd across rivers, find watering places for it, guard it against attacks by Native Americans, protect it in bad weather, and head off stampedes that might scatter the cattle. It took special skills and competence to handle the animals well. Those who lived on the ranches or worked as cowboys lived a western lifestyle. Some of their descendants live in Copper Canyon today, and these skills with livestock and enjoyment of animals have been passed down from generation to generation. In the 1880's there was a state campaign for property rights. Up until this time, cattle were branded by their owners and had roamed the range freely until they were rounded up and herded to market. Beginning in the mid 1880's, owners fenced their lands with barbed wire. The cattle drivers had more difficulty bringing their herds to market. Poor people whose cattle had previously had access to free grass and water resisted the change. Wealthy cattleman called them "nesters," and some tried to drive them out. Eventually good laws were enacted and enforced that recognized mutual rights and public benefits.

Another important change was the coming of the railroad. The MK&T Railroad was built in 1881, and the surrounding towns began to develop rapidly. In the late 1920's through the mid 1930's the area also continued its traditional farming and ranching. Watermelon and cantaloupe were the large cash crops. Trucks came through the area every year and picked up green melons, which ripened on the way to market. The rocky soil of Copper Canyon produced peanuts abundantly. Fruit trees grew well also, and most families had small orchards with peaches, pears, apricots, and cherries for home use. People used kerosene lanterns at night and iceboxes to preserve foods. Children helped their parents with farm or ranch chores. The school at Chinn's Chapel Log Cabin had always been a "subscription school," that is; the parents paid a portion of the teacher's salary, contributed to the upkeep of the school, and sent whatever "reading, writing, and 'rithmatic' materials they had at home to be used at school. Textbooks were rare and were passed down in families. During the last quarter of the nineteenth-century, Denton County began providing district schools financed by tax money. In 1884 a two-story structure was built on the old Chinn's Chapel Campground and established as a public school, District School Number 62, which was named "Chinn's Chapel School." The upper floor served as a Woodmen of the World Lodge where a men's social group sponsored by an insurance company of that name met on a regular basis. Lodge meetings, picnic, softball games, school programs, and holiday celebrations now took place at "Chapel School." Though the wagon trail through the valley had long connected Denton, the county seat, with Lewisville in the south, and thence to Dallas, a westerly road leading to the Waketon Community in what is now the Town of Flower Mound was needed. Residents of what is now the Town of Copper Canyon wished to use the Waketon General Store and Wakfield's Cotton Gin. The Democratic County Commissioners approved the J.B. Shelton Survey and authorized a road connecting Denton and Waketon. It included the old wagon trail through the valley and carried forward the name of "Chinn Chapel Road." It remained a dirt road until 1961. Chinn's Chapel School was well known throughout Southern Denton County. Children and youth of the area attended the school, which had a peak enrollment of 128 students in 1910. However, from 1910-1920 enrollment declined, and Denton County closed the school in 1921, demolished it, and used the wood to build another school farther away from the community, causing bitter feelings about the breaking of close home, school, and church ties within the community. That school was eventually consolidated also into the Denton Independent School District, and later into the Lewisville Independent School District.

Other events and technological advances, which caused change in the area, include rural electrification, which greatly improved life in the homes, farms and ranches of the area, automobiles and improved roads. People traveled far from the community during World War II, many to fight overseas and those who remained at home traveled to work in defense plants and factories outside the community. After the war, young people gained new access to education, travel, and new choices for careers. Few returned to carry on the difficult labor of the farms and ranches of the area, though many of the old-time farm families still own land and have homes in the area. New residents seeking the spaciousness and peacefulness of a rural lifestyle have chosen to make Copper Canyon their home. Almost everyone travels outside the community to attend school, shop, and conduct business. Many travel to other cities and other countries from nearby Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. With the ability to exchange information instantly from the home with telecommunications in the 1990's, residents of Copper Canyon are largely cosmopolitan, yet they value the pioneer western heritage of those that settled the land and laid the groundwork for all the blessings of the modern town today. The pioneer values of their forebears are highly valued still: love of family, God, and country, solving problems together, showing concerns for others, and working in cooperation with one another for the good of the community.