Vanishing Texas Vernacular Architecture

Posts tagged “Oil Boom


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..


Originally established in the early 1880s as a cotton and cattle shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway, Loraine saw little development in its early years. A post office opened there in 1890, and a school was built in 1893.  A hotel, a grocery, and a hardware store reportedly operated at the site before 1905.  In that year Parson Crandall bought the townsite land from the railroad and platted the town.

Growth was rapid after the town was platted.  A weekly newspaper began publication there in 1906, and the community was incorporated by 1910.  In 1914, when its population was an estimated 800, Loraine supported more than forty retail and service businesses, including a bank, a commercial club, and an electric utility company.  During the 1920s Loraine had an aldermanic form of government, operated its own public water system, and provided both high school and grade school facilities to local students.  In the 1930s cotton ginning grew in importance, and the town was recognized as a shipping, marketing, and ginning center.

Population estimates for Loraine ranged between 700 and 750 during this period.  A hospital was opened at the community in 1938.  During the 1940s the town was known for its cheese factory, for its annual dairy show, and as the headquarters for the Loraine Cooperative Association, which handled the milk supply for several surrounding counties.  The number of businesses at Loraine varied from an estimated high of fifty-five in 1940 to a low of thirty-four in 1947.  Population estimates remained at around 700 in the 1940s but rose to more than 1,000 during the 1950s, though the number of businesses began a steady decline.

Loraine is on U.S. Highway 20/80, Farm Road 644, and the Missouri Pacific line, ten miles east of Colorado City and fifty-eight miles west of Abilene in northeastern Mitchell County.  Three conflicting stories concerning the town’s name exist: the first says that Loraine was named for a railroad official’s wife, the second that the community was named for the daughter or wife (possibly Loraine Crandall) of a local landowner, and the third that the town was named for the French region of Lorraine.

REFERENCE:  Patricia L. Duncan, “LORAINE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed July 08, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


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