The Theater - Crane

Crane, on U.S. Highway 385 and State Highway 329 in eastern Crane County, was named for Baylor University president William C. Crane.  It is the seat and only town of the county and has the county’s only post office, which was founded in 1908.  The discovery of oil in the county in 1926 led to the county’s organization the next year and to Crane’s development as an oil boomtown.  Ollin Columbus Kinnison opened a realty office and platted a townsite, naming the streets for his daughters and sons.  Early residents had to put up with board sidewalks, unpaved roads, and limited services-including hauling their own water-until permanent housing and city utilities were built.  At one point - water was so scarce that women sent their laundry to El Paso by train.  Schools and other amenities were established at Crane as the local oil resources were exploited.

The population reached 1,400 in 1940, which was about the time that Texas’ rural population was outnumbered by its urban population.  In Crane’s case, the urban population always outnumbered the rural. By 1980 the town had a library, a swimming pool, and 104 businesses.  These included a steel foundry, a concrete plant, a nursing home, and a hospital (that was enlarged in 1962).  A special edition of the Crane News in 1972 celebrated the county’s production of one billion barrels of oil.  In the 1980s the town was the service center for the region’s flourishing oil industry.  Oil continues to be Crane’s main revenue source. Farming has never been big in Crane County and cattle is a distant second source of revenue.

REFERENCE: William R. Hunt, “CRANE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed July 08, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association and Texas Escapes online magazine..

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