This town was founded in 1850 and grew as a trading center for nearby farms and ranches. The first merchant sold goods from his wagon before any stores were built, and the first "saloon" was a barrel of whiskey and a tin cup under a shade tree. A stagecoach line served the village, and cowboys herding longhorns up to the Chisholm Trail enjoyed rest stops in Belton.
The town is graced by architecture from the early 1860s to the early 1900s. Some buildings are open during the annual tour in the spring.
Belton also is home to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, established in 1845 when Texas was still an independent republic. Students present a celebrated Easter pageant annually.
Other events include the Fourth of July Celebration and PRCA Rodeo. Belton lies on the I-35 corridor and U.S. 190, a segment of the Ports-to-Plains Highway connecting the state's heartland to coastal ports.