Cameron is located at 30°51′16″N 96°58′43″W (30.854544, -96.978716). It is situated at the junction of U.S. Highways 77 and 190, approximately 71 miles northeast of Austin in north central Milam County.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.2 square miles (11 km2), all land.
Soon after Texas became a U.S. State, the Texas Legislature authorized a seven-member commission to find a permanent site for the Milam County seat. The commission purchased a 60-acre tract of Daniel Monroe's headright on the Little River in 1846 and named the new community Cameron after Ewen Cameron, a Scot highlander prominent in the Texas Revolution and a member of the Mier Expedition during the war with Mexico. When the courthouse in Cameron was completed later that year, county records were transferred to Cameron from Nashville – a community situated along the Brazos River that had served as the Milam County seat during the period when Texas was an independent Republic. The new town struggled due to its isolated location with the nearest railroad being fifty miles away. In the late 1840s and early 1850s, several attempts were made to navigate the Little River in order to give Cameron easier access to trade routes. The most successful attempts occurred in 1850 after heavy rains made the river rise. J.W. McCown, Sr. persuaded Captain Basil M. Hatfield to bring his steamboat "Washington" through the upper Brazos up to the Little River. The steamboat and the merchandise it brought caused great excitement among the locals, and a two-day celebration was held when the boat tied up two-and-a-half miles east of Cameron. Despite this, however, navigation of the river was impractical on a regular basis and places such as Port Sullivan and Nashville developed into Milam County's dominant business centers during the 1850s and 1860s. More competition came in the 1870s when nearby Rockdale was established on the International-Great Northern Railroad. Faced with these challenges, some Milam County residents began to question whether Cameron should remain the county seat instead of the newly prosperous town of Rockdale. Elections were held in 1874 and 1880 on the issue with the results going in favor of maintaining the status quo.
In 1881, the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway arrived in Cameron. This improved the local economy and led to subsequent population growth. In the six-year period between 1878 and 1884, the total number of residents rose from around 500 to 800, an increase of sixty percent. Cameron had attempted to incorporate in 1856, 1866, and 1873, but each time the charter was allowed to lapse. It was officially incorporated in 1889. The San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway arrived in 1890, giving the town another positive boost. By 1892, the population stood at nearly 2,000.
Although cotton dominated the economy of Cameron during the 19th century, the 20th century brought more diversified industries. The discovery of oil in neighboring Williamson County in 1915 prompted Milam County residents to initiate their own exploration. The Minerva-Rockdale oil field was discovered in 1921 and provided new opportunities for investment. In the 1920s and 1930s, several milk product companies were operating in Cameron, including the Kraft-Phenix Cheese Corporation. At the 1930 census, the population was 4,565. That figure rose to 5,040 in 1940.
Cameron residents received much-needed job opportunities in the 1950s when the Aluminum Company of America built a plant southwest of Rockdale. Jobs at the plant, as well as the lignite industry that supplied the plant's power, revitalized the economy of Milam County. The plant closed in 2009. Between 1950 and 1960, Cameron registered an increase of 588 residents, from 5,052 to 5,640.
This level of growth would not continue, however. The Texas and New Orleans Railroad discontinued its track from Cameron south to Giddings. Southern Pacific, which had taken over the Texas and New Orleans, abandoned its track from Cameron north to Rosebud. The population would continue to experience slight fluctuations throughout the remainder of the late 20th century.
On May 27–31, 2010 a campground outside of Cameron hosted the Burning Flipside festival, which brought over 2400 campers through Cameron.
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,634 people, 2,090 households, and 1,404 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,327.9 people per square mile (513.0/km²). There were 2,383 housing units at an average density of 561.6 per square mile (217.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 66.68% White, 20.66% African-American, 0.60% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 10.17% from other races, and 1.72% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26.66% of the population.
There were 2,090 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.9% were married couples living together, 17.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.25.
In the city, the population was spread out with 28.0% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 23.3% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 20.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $25,878, and the median income for a family was $30,927. Males had a median income of $23,988 versus $18,497 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,122. About 20.8% of families and 22.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.8% of those under age 18 and 22.4% of those age 65 or over.
The City of Cameron is served by the Cameron Independent School District.Pat M. Baskin, state court judge and city council member in Midland, born in Cameron in 1926
Drayton McLane, Jr., third generation leader of the McLane Company, former owner of the Houston Astros, and namesake for McLane Stadium, was born in Cameron.
Virgil Johnson, lead singer of The Velvets, and a retired educator was born in Cameron. He has resided in Lubbock since the 1960s. He is a DJ at Radio KDAV.
Catherine Hardwicke, an American film director who directed the popular teenage film Thirteen (film), was born in Cameron.
Sam Williams, NFL player
Manse Jolly, a Confederate war hero during the Civil War, stayed here for two years before his death in a drowning accident.
Michael W. Perrin, Houston attorney and current Athletic Director at the University of Texas at Austin is a Cameron native.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Cameron has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.