The Hippo Legend - But Which One?
Hutto is perhaps most widely known for its community mascot—the hippopotamus. But how did Hutto become known for this wild animal from the other side of the world? And what does it mean to be part of "hippo nation"?
Take a fun look inside the legend in a short documentary film from the City of Hutto, released in honor of World Hippo Day 2023. "Hippo Loose in Hutto: The Legend of Hutto, Texas" features locally famous faces, adorable animation, and a specially composed theme-song.
As the film shows, there is more than one local legend about the beginnings of Hutto's unique symbol. One is that the big Swedish and German farmboys of Hutto were playing their smaller foes in football back in the day, and the visiting coach exclaimed, "We can’t beat those boys! They’re big as hippos!"
Another story, also based on gridiron lore, is that the Hutto football team in the early twenties had no real jerseys and used feed sacks as their uniforms. The opposing coach allegedly said that the football team looked like a bunch of hippos in their makeshift outfits.
Most Popular Legend
The most popular local legend is that in 1915 a circus train stopped in Hutto at the train depot to take on passengers, pick up and deliver mail, and possibly take on water and fuel for the steam locomotive. The circus train workers also would have taken this opportunity to care for their animals. At some point during this historic layover, a hippopotamus got out of the rail-car and made its way to the nearby Cottonwood Creek, which is next to the rail line.
This caused much consternation for the circus workers. Local farmers and merchants watched the commotion in amusement and with interest as unsuccessful efforts were made to extricate the hippopotamus from the muddy waters of Cottonwood Creek. The Depot Agent telegraphed the communities of Taylor and Round Rock that were eight miles to the east and west of Hutto to the effect of:
Stop trains! Hippo loose in Hutto.
After much effort, the hippo was prodded from the mud and water that resembled its natural habitat and was reloaded back onto the train car. Soon afterward the Hutto school adopted the hippopotamus as its mascot and as early as 1923 the hippo appeared on official Hutto High School graduation announcements.
Thousands of Concrete Hippos
Residents and businesses proudly tout their hippo spirit with concrete hippos in many different sizes and styles displayed throughout the community. While estimates vary, it can reasonably be estimated there are between 5,000 and 10,000 concrete hippos throughout Hutto. See where some are located with our interactive Hippo Tour map. You'll see that many choose to paint their hippos to coordinate with their business or home decor, but the purists in town like to leave their hippos au natural.
To purchase your own concrete hippo, you can contact the Hutto Area Chamber of Commerce or Set in Stone Statuary.