According to local legend, it was in 1915 that a circus train stopped in Hutto at the 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, the hippo got out of the railcar and made its way to the nearby Cottonwood Creek. 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. It is said that the Depot Agent, who at that time would have been Hal Farley, Jr., 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.
Other stories about the beginnings of the unique Hutto mascot are as follows: The big Swedish and German boys of Hutto were playing their smaller foes in football and the visiting coach is said to have stated “we can’t beat those boys, they’re big as hippos”. Another story, also based on gridiron lore, was 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.
Whatever story is the actual basis for the unique mascot, the hippopotamus, Hutto is the only school district and the only community in the United States to have the hippo as its primary identifier. Hutto and Hippo have become synonymous to the degree that when people say that they are from Hutto most often the first response is that of “Oh, the hippos”. A yell used by the Hutto cheerleaders goes; “You say Hutto, We say Hippo”. Hutto is hippo proud!
Source: Williamson County Historical Commission