Ector County Historical Markers

Texas Brazos Trail Region

Map of Ector County Historic Sites

Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section).
Buffalo Wallow, Old | Cable Tool Rig | Caprock | Comanche War Trail | Dawson Saloon, Site of The | Ector County | Ector County Courthouse | Ector County Discovery Well | Ector County Land Rush | Ector County's First Dry Hole | General Matthew D. Ector | Emigrant Trail | Henderson, Homer Robert | The Jackrabbit | LeGrande Survey of 1833 | Site of Old Livery Stable and Wagon Yard | Odessa | Odessa Meteor Craters | Odessa, Texas | Parker House Ranching Heritage Museum | Prairie Dog | Presidential Museum | Site of Homestead of William C. Sublett | Waddell Pecan Tree

Old Buffalo Wallow

Marker Title: Old Buffalo Wallow
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1986
Marker Location: 4800 E 42nd St., Odessa (West side of atrium bldg. parking lot)
Marker Text: The nearby depression survives from an epoch when great buffalo herds migrated through west Texas, many moving between present Canada and Mexico over two major trails in the Odessa area. Wallows began with individual buffalo rolling in the dirt to rid themselves of pests or shed their heavy winter coats in springtime. Repeated wallowing in the same spot by countless buffalo created an efficient depression to accomplish the cleaning ritual. Most wallows were eight to 12 feet across and two feet deep. Buffalo existed in the millions in north America, ranging throughout the western and central plains of Texas. They were pursued seasonally by the plains Indians, who subsisted on the food and clothing the buffalo provided. In the late 19th century, railroads bisected their trails, isolating the herds and providing transportation of meat and hides to distant markets. In Texas vast buffalo slaughters were encouraged in the 1870s by the army, who wanted to deprive Indians of their commissary; settlers, who had crops trampled and forage consumed by the passing herds; and hunters, who realized quick profit particularly from hides. The buffalo had all but disappeared from this area when Odessa was founded in 1886.

Cable Tool Rig

Marker Title: Cable Tool Rig
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: Odessa, 42nd St. & US 385 at Ector Co. Coliseum, (marker is on North side of Grounds and is enclosed in chain link fence.)
Marker Text: Equipment that replaced the spring pole drilling method used in America's earlier oil fields. The Cable Tool Rig used a bit suspended on a steel drilling cable. The bit is dropped in the hole and the impact breaks up the formation. The broken pieces are removed by a bail. This method made possible the deeper penetration so necessary in the southwest. The Cable Tool Rig was introduced in Texas in 1866. (some use of Cable Tools had been made around 1840 in the north.) Texas gave the southwestern oil industry the first lease, the first oil pipe line, the first wooden and iron storage tanks, the first iron drums for transporting crude oil and first use of the augur principle later employed in rotary rigs. The Cable Tool Rig brought in the first important wells of the permian basin. This Rig was reconstructed from parts of several Rig was reconstructed from parts of several rigs actually used at big lake, Regan county, where the No. 1 Santa Rita blew in during may 1923 as the first well in the first major oil field in the permian basin. To the cable tool rig and the men who used it goes credit for the great development in the permian basin.

The Caprock

Marker Title: The Caprock
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: From Odessa, take IH 20 West about 13 miles to Highway Rest area.
Marker Text: A range of flat-topped ridges and cliffs stretching from Texas panhandle to 20 miles South of this point and extending into new Mexico. The name also refers to tough limestone that caps ridges. Rising sharply 200 to 1,000 ft. above plains. This section, Concho Bluffs, Marks Western edge of Caprock escarpment. Called the "Break of the plains" because it divides the staked plains from the north central plains of Texas. Observed by Coronado's expedition, 1540-1540, provided shelter in storms, but delayed entrance of settlers to staked plains. Herds of stampeding cattle at times plunged over its edge. In the area, the Caprock blocked eastbound wagons, including some from California gold fields in 1850'a. Because of scarce surface water, staked plains were too dry for farming or ranching until wells were drilled and windmills installed. Ridges and canyons here hindered railroad building. In 1881 workmen earned $2.50 a day-highest wages ever paid until then on a texas railroad job-at "Colt's Big Rock Cut" (the mile-wide, 17-ft. chasm visible here). A tragic accident with dynamite injured several of Colt's men and killed three. Their graves, known to the pioneers around Odessa, were on a hill northeast of the tracks, but cannot now be found.

Comanche War Trail

Marker Title: Comanche War Trail
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: (Access. Rd on Bus. IH 20, East of loop 338, near entrance to Sunset Memorial Gardens) Odessa
Marker Text: A Barred, Bristling flying wedge--the Comanches--Rode into 18th century Texas, driving the Wichitas and Caddoes East, the Apaches West, becoming lords of the south plains. Harassed the Spanish and Anglo-Americans along frontier from Corpus Christi on the Gulf up to the Red River. Wrote their name in blood clear down to Zacatecas, Mexico. Captured women, children and horses along their road of blood, tears and agony. Many roads converged into the great Comanche war trail, which passed about 20 miles southeast of this marker.

Site of The Dawson Saloon

Marker Title: Site of The Dawson Saloon
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: 125 West 2nd St. (also US Hwy. 80), Odessa (in front of Bldg. facing North)
Marker Text: Frontier business of S.T. (TOL) and E.F. (LISH) Dawson, brothers. Lish Dawson, 1891-92 Sheriff of Ector County, had a barber chair in the Saloon, and helped tend bar. Liquor was in 40-gallon barrels. Ice for drinks was hauled from great lakes by Texas & Pacific Railroad. To avoid township restriction on liquor sales, Dawson moved saloon to the street; Tol was brought to trial for this. "White Ribboners"--Clubwomen opposed saloons. In the face Lish Dawson lost his office, and the business was closed.

Ector County

Marker Title: Ector County
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: (Bus. IH20, East of loop 338 near entrance to Sunset Memorial Gardens) Odessa.
Marker Text: Created February 26, 1887 from Tom Green County organized January 15, 1891, named in honor of Matthew Duncan Ector 1822-1879. Member of the Texas legislature a confederate officer and outstanding jurist Odessa, The County Seat.

Ector County Courthouse

Marker Title: Ector County Courthouse
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: 3rd & Grant on Courthouse Square near West entrance of Courtouse facing, Grant Ave.
Marker Text: Seat of justice for Ector, created out of Tom Green County in 1887 and organized in 1891. The 1891 courthouse was frame, the remodelled town sanitarium, moved to the present square. Its first floor had rooms for the sheriff, court clerks and Odessa school, while the county and district courtroom was upstairs. As the only public building in town, it provided space for dances. socials and church services. Picnics and baptizings were held at the windmill and tank on the northwest corner of the square. As townsite restriction banned the sale of liquor, Odessa was usually quiet. However, fights broke out when settlers rushed to the courthouse to file claims on public lands. In 1904 a 2-story red stone courthouse was built just east of the early one. On the lawn in 1906 the Christian church was organized. At that time Odessa ha 400 people and little hope for growth, because of drouths and their effects on cattle raising. After oil discoveries of 1926 stimulated Ector's development, a 3-story cement building was erected in 1938. The fourth structure was dedicated April 12, 1964, by governor John Connally.

Ector County Discovery Well

Marker Title: Ector County Discovery Well
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: From Penwell, take US 80 about 2.5 mile West.
Marker Text: The discovery of Oil in Ector County December 28, 1926, marked the beginning of a new economic era for this region. The first Well, " J.S. Cosden No.1-A W.E. Connell ", was named for the driller and owner of land. Its meager initial output of 38 barrels per day did not cause much excitement, but experts insisted that vast oil deposits lay under area (permian basin). In 1929, Robert Penn's Gusher catapulted Odessa to boom-town fame. Oil has sustained the area economy since then, although the discovery Well was pugged and abandoned in 1940. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1967.

Ector County Land Rush

Marker Title: Ector County Land Rush
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: Courthouse Square, 3rd St. Grant, Odessa.
Marker Text: Here in 1904 a fight involved almost every man in Ector County, over filing a claim for 4 sections of public land. Elias Dawson and Charlie Lewis each brought friends to help him file. Before courthouse doors opened, several men had clothes or boots torn off, in foes' efforts to find filing papers. When the doors opened, a man was boosted over the heads of the crowd, and Lewis won the 4 sections of land. Texas as a republic owned over 200,000,000 acres of public land. She used land to attract settlers, pay her soldiers, set up school funds. At annexation, she retained her public lands--the only state to do so. In a boundary dispute she ceded 63,552,144 acres; used land to pay for railroads, harbors and canals; compensated civil war soldiers of widows with land; traded 3,000,000 acres for a state capitol. By 1883 her lands were over-committed. Free grazing had to be stopped. Terminations of leases and the corrections of surveys later made available some land for filing. This led to the 1904 rush. In one courthouse a man hid overnight to be first in line. Cattle chutes to a clerk's window would be lined for months with men hoping to file. Cowboys and farmers battled. Filing was a challenge.

Ector County's First Dry Hole

Marker Title: Ector County's First Dry Hole
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: West side of Street 917 N. Grandview, Odessa (marker is facing East-small strip center)
Marker Text: Drilled in 1924 near this site. Geologists were forecasting oil and urgently-needed potash, but Pennsylvania experts (using a chilled shop core drill) gave up the well at 900 feet, on "Red Bed" Rock--A substance new to them. Loss in this and a second drilling was $150.000. In 1927 a well was brought in just west of Odessa, and in a few years oil was found within yards of the first dry hole. By 1964 Ector County had 9,600 oil and 22 gas wells. However, the U.S. average is 8 dry holes out of 9 wells such as that drilled here in 1924.

General Matthew D. Ector

Marker Title: General Matthew D. Ector
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Location: Courthouse Square, 3rd & Grant, Odessa
Marker Text: Enlisted 1861. Lieutenant 3rd Texas Cavalry. Fought Arkansas, Missouri and Indian territory. As colonel led 14th Texas Cavalry Kentucky invasion. Made brigadier general 1862 to command famed Ector's brigade in Tennessee and Mississippi battles. Wounded four times without leaving Chickamauga field. Under constant fire 70 days in Georgia. Lost leg in Atlanta 1864. Assigned to defense of Mobile, Alabama. A memorial to Texans who served the Confederacy erected by the state of Texas 1963,

Emigrant Trail

Marker Title: Emigrant Trail
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: From Hwy 80 in Odessa, take US 385 North about 4.6 miles.
Marker Text: Road of Stubborn seekers of 1849 California gold fields and better life. Bringing the old, infant, the yet unborn and all worldly goods, family wagons entered Texas at Preston, on Red River, to go southwest via springs Including some now in Monaghan Sandhills Park) to emigrants' crossing on the Pecos, then upriver and west through Guadalupe pass to El Paso. Old wagon parts by the trail tell of some disasters. Capt. R. B. Marcy in 1849 and Capt. John Pope in 1854 made army surveys of the trail. It passed near this spot.

Homer Robert Henderson

Marker Title: Homer Robert Henderson
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: In Mausoleum of Sunset Memorial Gardens along HI 20, East of loop 338, Odessa.
Marker Text: Texas Ranger; deputy sheriff; county commissioner in Ector and (later) in Crane County. Born in Wilson County; one of 12 children of Robert and Mary Elizabeth (O'Neal) Henderson. Came to Odessa as member of company a, Texas Rangers, under command of Capt. J.A. Brooks, in 1906. This was in period when Rangers kept the peace during citizen's filing of land claims. Married Annie Henderson here, October 8, 1908. Ranched in area.

The Jackrabbit

Marker Title: The Jackrabbit
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: Corner of W. 8th & W. Sam Houston, Odessa
Marker Text: True plains Rabbit. Lives only in the west. Burro-like ears gave him his name. color is protective, blending with sand and dry grass. Very long legs make him a swift runner, clocked at speeds to 45 miles and hour. Object of hunts with Greyhounds. Was prized by plains Indians for food and fur. to white man a reminder of desert-hard life. In drouth and depression, meat source for thousands. Subject of tall tales. Actual hero of world's only Jackrabbit Rodeo, in Odessa, May 1932.

LeGrande Survey of 1833

Marker Title: LeGrande Survey of 1833
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: From Ector County Courthouse, take US 385 North about 12.5 miles on East Service Rd. (before intersection of US 385 & SH 158).
Marker Text: Made in era of Mexico rule in Texas for John Beales, who through partnerships, acquired 70,000,000 acres of land and gained the title of "Texas" largest land king. Alexander LeGrande's survey covered about 2,000 miles in west Texas, Oklahoma Panhandle and Eastern New Mexico then south to the 32nd parallel. Hardship and tragedy plagued LeGrande's abandoned survey. First exploration here is usually credited to Capt. R.B. Marcy, U.S. Army; LeGrande's work was years earlier.

Site of Old Livery Stable and Wagon Yard

Marker Title: Site of Old Livery Stable and Wagon Yard
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: 205 N. Grant St., Odessa (near Odessa Police Dept.)
Marker Text: Established 1897 as Odessa's first livery stable and wagon yard by Francis M. Tallant. Cowmen stabled their horses, then headed for ranch saloon located across from stable. Sold 1906 to C. A. Beardsley, who advertised "good rigs, dray line and prompt attention." Livery stable had saddle horses and animal-drawn vehicles for hire. Wagon yard offered shelter for travelers and their teams. Automobiles changed life. In 1915, Joe W. Rice bought stable and converted it into a garage sandstone structure (covered with stucco) still stands. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1967.

Odessa

Marker Title: Odessa
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: From Odessa, take IH 20 West about 14 mile to Roadside Park
Marker Text: Founded 1881. Legend says name came from an Indian princess who wandered into camp of texas & Pacific railroad construction gang. others say it was for Odessa on Russian plains--area west Texas resembles. County seat ever since Ector was organized, 1891. has had great growth since 1926 oil strike. Center for one of the two largest oil fields in the world. Has largest inland petrochemical complex in united states, alone with many other diversified industries. It is also the oilfield supply capital of the world. Odessa college has served area since 1946. City has 143 churches; a symphony orchestra; clubs for sports, service, culture. Recreational attractions include nation's second largest meteor crater; exact replica of shakespeare's 16th century globe theatre; 4 museums; a planetarium; industrial tours; "permian playhouse"; "Prairie Dog Pete" park; world's largest Jackrabbit statue; and 21 payground-parks. Unique "presidential room" depicts lives of U.S. presidents in art, documents, and memorabilia. Sandhill Hereford and quarterhouse show opens annual rodeo season for entire southwest. World famous permian basin oil show is held biennially.

Odessa Meteor Craters

Marker Title: Odessa Meteor Craters
County: Ector
Marker Location: By mile marker #106, appx. 10 mile West of Odessa on IH 20.
Marker Text: East and South (route marked) is located the Odessa Meteor Craters, formed in prehistoric time when a great shower of nickel-iron meteorites collided with the earth. Geologists estimate that the time of the meteor fall was about 20,000 years ago. The shower was composed of many thousands of individual meteorites of various sizes which fell over an area of about 2 square mile. The smaller meteorites, which were by far the most numerous, either came to rest on the earths' surface or at the bottom of shallow impact pits within the soil. there were several very large meteoritic masses in the shower, however, and these struck the earth with such enormous energy that they penetrated deeply into bedrock and shattered with explosive force, thus producing craters in the earth at the places of impact. when freshly formed the craters were funnel-shaped depressions, the largest about 550 feet in diameter and 100 feet in depth. More than 100,000 cubic yards of crushed rock was ejected from this crater by the energy released from the impacting meteoritic mass. Smaller crater in the vicinity of the main crater range from 15 feet 18 feet in depth. In the ages following their formation the craters gradually accumulated sediments deposited by wind and water. The main crater was eventually filled to with 6 feet of the level of the surrounding plain. It now appears as a shallow, nearly circular depression surrounded by a low, rock-buttressed rim. The several smaller associated craters were so completely buried that their existence was not suspected until they were exposed in excavations made by the University of Texas, in the early 1940's. Meteor craters are among the rarest and most interesting of land features. Observations by astrophysicists indicated that meteoritic bodies which strike our earth originate within our Solar System, probably form the steroidal belt located between the planets, Jupiter and Saturn.

Odessa, Texas

Marker Title: Odessa, Texas
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: North Ceraunds of Odessa City Hall, 8th St. & N. Sam Houston, Odessa.
Marker Text: Founded 1881. Promoted for "Pure Water, Sunshine and no Mosquitoes", as market center for wheat area. Legend says named for an Indian princess who wandered into camp of T. & P. Railroad construction gang. another story says name came from Odessa on the Russian plains--an area west Texas resembles. County seat ever since Ector was organized, 1891. Since oil strike here in 1926, population doubles each 10 years. Center for one of the two largest oil fields in the world. Has largest inland petrochemical complex in the U.S., and other industries such as metal fabrication, cement, food processing. Is the oilfield supply capital of the world. 120 churches. Sports, service, culture clubs. Civic theater. Symphony, Art, Historical, lapidarian organizations. Odessa college has operated since 1946. Attractions include nation's second largest meteor crater; exact replica of 16th century globe theater; museums at the crater, college and county library's historical presidential room. Sandhills Hereford and quarterhouse show opens annual rodeo season for entire southwest. Biennial permian basin oil show. World's largest Jackrabbit.

Parker House Ranching Heritage Museum

Museum Name: Parker House Ranching Heritage Museum
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 3908
City: Odessa
Zip Code: 79760
Street Address: 1118 Maple Ave.
Area Code: 915
Phone: 335-9918
County: Ector
Museum Classification: General, History, Art, Science, Historic Site, Historic House, Children's Museum, Aviation, Natural Science, Nature Center, Military, Planning Stage/Not Open, Other, Non-Historic Structure, Museum Building Type: Historic Structure

Prairie Dog

Marker Title: Prairie Dog
City: Odessa
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: Prairie Pete Park, 44th at East Co. Rd., Odessa
Marker Text: Actually a squirrel. Gets name from its bark. It was food for settlers, especially in drouths. Lives in cluster of burrows called a "Town". Burrows, hazardous to running horses, often have caused broken bones among horses and riders. Also prairie dogs ate grass roots, destroying cattle feed. One old-time town was 100 miles wide and extended, almost unbroken, 250 miles southward from prairie dog town fork of Red River. Extermination has wiped out most colonies. This colony was established in 1959 by Odessa rotary club.

Presidential Museum

Museum Name: The Presidential Museum
Street Address: 622 N. Lee Street
City: Odessa
Zip Code: 79761
Area Code: 915
Phone: 332-7123
County: Ector
Types of Exhibits/Collections: Historical, Other

Site of Homestead of William C. Sublett

Marker Title: Site of Homestead of William C. Sublett
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: 222 N. Grandview, Odessa
Marker Text: Born 1835 in Alabama. Moved to north Texas before the civil war, in which he served as a confederate. After his wife died in 1874, he went to the Texas frontier to hunt Buffalo, taking his three young children with him. In 1881-1882 he supplied game to Texas & Pacific Railroad construction crews. (such hunting was important to development of west Texas and to transcontinental railroad construction). Settling later in Odessa, Sublett built near this site a dogout-and-tent home, and homesteaded a 160 acre claim. To support his family, he hauled wood and "Water-Witched" to locate wells for settlers. In the 1880's he attracted notice by using gold nuggets to trade for supplies. In explanation, he said an Apache Indian had directed him to a mine in the Guadalupe Mountains, about 150 miles west of here. Periodically he disappeared and returned with gold, but efforts to follow him to the mine always failed. He once took his young son there, but the boy could not find the way later. in 1889, Sublett sold his Ector County property. He died Jan. 6, 1892, in Barstow, without disclosing the location of his mine. However, stories of his treasure still lure explorers into the Guadalupe Mountains. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1967.

Waddell Pecan Tree

Marker Title: Waddell Pecan Tree
County: Ector
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: 321 N. Lee, Odessa
Marker Text: A few years after Odessa was founded in 1881, a squirrel stole a pecan from a neighbor's porch, and buried it in the yard of W.T. Malone, planting this tree. A rarity in the downtown area, it became a well-known landmark. When R.T. ("Cotton") Waddell (1889-1964) and his wife Mary Lee moved from their ranch to this home on July 1, 1926, they found entire neighborhood enjoying the native pecans from their tree. The R.T. Waddells, younger generation of a family influential in this region since the 1870s, gave time and talent to civic works as freely as their tree gave shade.


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