Vanishing Texas Vernacular Architecture


Notwithstanding the few remaining trees planted by the early residents of Notrees, the name is apropos.  In fact, you have to drive 23 miles to Odessa or 23 miles in the opposite direction to Kermit to see a tree.  The late Frank X. Tolbert, columnist at the Dallas Morning News, once reported on local lore that the town was named by “visiting drunk in the cafe…who said “Look at all those baldies out there.  Not a single tree.  This is Notrees.”.”

Located 22 miles northwest of Odessa, Texas, on State Highway 302 in western Ector County.  The community developed after the discovery of oil in TXL Field on December 1944.  The community was known at various times as Caprock, TXL, and Strawberry before Charles E. Brown, a local merchant, petitioned for a post office and selected the descriptive name of Notrees.  Reportedly, the town had one native tree before it was destroyed in the construction of a gasoline plant by Shell Oil Company.  The post office opened in December 1946 and Brown served as the first postmaster.  At that time the town consisted of two cafes, one gas station, two welding shops, Brown’s grocery store, three company houses, and 85 people.  The area thrived as new horizons were added to TXL Field in the 1950s and Notrees continued to serve the oil industry as those horizons were developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Population remained at 85 until 1966 when 338 residents were reported.  Over the years, Notrees was the site for ten oil company camps, a grade school, and a recreation hall.  The number of businesses fluctuated from seven in the late 1950s to one in the mid-1980s. By the 1980s oil companies abandoned company camps that had provided housing for employees and their families.  With improved roads and good transportation, workers were able to live in Odessa and drive to work in Notrees.  In 1998 Notrees had many trees, but was still closely tied to oil production.  At that time it reported a population of 338, served by four businesses and its post office.

REFERENCES:  William R. Hunt, “NOTREES, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (  Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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