DURING THE CIVIL War, a Home Guard post named Camp Rio Frio was built to protect the community from Apaches and bandits.
After the war, the community was called Dog Town and was reputed to be a lawless and bandit-filled place.
The first establishment was the Franklin Ranch in 1868, built by Ralph S. Franklin. Now the Lone Star Camp, it is a hunting and working ranch camp still owned by the Franklin Family.
In 1871, the community was granted a post office.
The town's name was changed in honor of Samuel J. Tilden, the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate in the 1876 United States presidential election.
In 1881, Old McMullin College opened under the direction of John Van Epps Covey, and endorsed by the Baptist Church. The buildings were turned over to the Tilden School District in 1897.