During the Era of Reconstruction, the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Railroad began running across north Louisiana. Robert E. Russ donated 640 acres to the town and this area was eventually know as Ruston (shorthand for Russ town). As the town began to take shape, new churches, businesses, civic organizations and schools were being established. Cotton farming fueled the economy and in 1900 a second railroad, running north and south, was built through Ruston. This brought even more business and industry to the area and the population continued to provide a foundation for the local economy.
Ruston continued to grow steadily with the help of the local university, which brought new families to Ruston. By the late 1950's, it was decided that a new interstate highway was to be built that would run through the northern edge of the city. Completed by the early 1970's this coast-to-coast highway made Ruston more easily accessible, much as the railroad had done a century before.
Ruston has continued growing steadily due to the rapid expansion of local colleges, Louisiana Tech and Grambling State. The city also placed an emphasis on revitalizing the historic downtown district. A joint effort between the city, Louisiana Main Street, and Louisiana Department of Historic Preservation, beautification projects restored Ruston's historic downtown to the thriving center of the community.
Ruston has since added a regional airport to serve existing business and industry. The universities have achieved unparalleled success in many fields and Downtown continues to offer people a variety of retail shops and fine eateries. The city now stands poised for future growth and prosperity. As Robert E. Russ envisioned, it is a place for friends and neighbors. True to his dream, the city continues to open its doors to those looking for a healthy business environment, an opportunity to receive a quality education and a great place to raise a family.