Mitchell County Historical Markers

Texas Plains Trail Region

Map of Mitchell County Historic Sites

Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section).
Buffalo Trails | Coleman Ranch Field Discovery Well | Founding of Colorado City | Comanche Village Massacre | Discovery Well of the Permian Basin | William Marion Green | Heart of West Texas Museum | Lone Wolf Mountain | McMurry, Y.D. | Mitchell County | Renderbrook Ranch | Seven Wells

Buffalo Trails

Marker Title: Buffalo Trails
Address: Third and Chestnut St.
City: Colorado City
County: Mitchell
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: On ground behind Museum; Third and Chesnut, Colorado City.
Marker Text: These tracks, originally formed in soft dirt, are taken from an ancient buffalo trail which once guided herds to water at Champion Creek (6 miles south). Thousands of buffalo running single file pounded trails like this deep into the ground. When any one route became too deep, they started another, over the years making many side by side. Trails to grazing areas radiated from watering holes. Migratory trails stretched from the Rio Grande to Canada, usually following high, level ground in order to avoid winter snowdrifts and summer muck. Brothers J. Wright and John Mooar, Mitchell County businessmen and famous buffalo hunters, helped to kill thousands (including a white buffalo), 1870 to 1877. Chief product was the hide, but tongues, humps, and hams were also sold. Buffalo were so plentiful that in 1872 Mooar saw a northward migration of millions taking over 6 weeks to cross the Arkansas River. In their time, buffalo trails aided the Indians, who followed them to the animals feeding grounds. Later, explorers blazed new roads along them, and railroad engineers more than once used their exact routes. In this way, the buffalo trail was a key to the opening of transportation and settlement across the U.S. (1967)

Coleman Ranch Field Discovery Well

Marker Title: Coleman Ranch Field Discovery Well
Address: FM 1229, Vis SH 377 from Colorado City
City: Colorado City
County: Mitchell
Year Marker Erected: 1983
Marker Location: From Colorado City take SH 377 about 3 miles west. Turn north onto FM 1229 and continue about 11 miles to marker.
Marker Text: Completion of The Westbrook Field T&P No. 1 oil well in 1920 signaled the beginning of commercial oil production in the Permian Basin. In the rush of oil activity that followed, the P.C. Coleman No. 1 Well was drilled on land owned by Dr. Preston C. Coleman, physician, civic leader and promoter of early oil development in Mitchell County. Completed in January 1923, the well was a slow producer. After nitroglycerine was used to temporarily increase production, the well was capped with a cedar stump. Frank Kelley, landman for the Magnolia Oil Co., removed the stump in 1925, and the well began flowing again. When occasional pumping yielded only small amounts of oil, Magnolia abandoned it in 1940. Although not a significant producer, the P.C. Coleman No. 1 Well confirmed the possibility of further oil development on the eastern shelf of the Permian Basin. In 1946, large quantities of oil were found southwest of the discovery well on former public school land filed on in 1900 by Dr. Coleman's son Walter. Marked today only by a concrete well cap on a concrete base, the site of the Coleman Ranch Field Discovery Well serves as a reminder of the early days of oil production in the Permian Basin. (1983)

Founding of Colorado City

Marker Title: The Founding of Colorado City
Address: Oak and Third St.
City: Colorado City
County: Mitchell
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: Oak and Third Streets, at courthouse, Colorado City.
Marker Text: Founded, 1880, at the crossing of the Colorado River and Texas & Pacific Railroad right-of-way; central shipping point and supply depot for the sprawling cattle ranches of West Texas and New Mexico. From 1880 (when A.W. Dunn opened his dirt-floor, tent-roof general store) to 1890 the boisterous cattle town garnered notoriety as well as fame. The largest community between Fort Worth and El Paso, Colorado City had more millionaires than any other Texas town and the most saloons in the West. Law and order was housed in a dugout at the edge of town, where a company of Texas Rangers made all men check their guns. Modest, courageous Ranger Dick Ware was elected first sheriff in 1881. Population soared from 700 to 5,000 in the first two years, as cowboys, cattlemen, merchants, and (as a visitor said) "any number of bummers", vied for space. The first sermon was preached in a saloon and the town "jail" was a chain attached to a mesquite tree, but citizens could find beauty in the lantern-glow from dozens of tents in the center of town. Although drouth and the passing of the open range soon diminished Colorado City's glory, its first decade won for it the epithet, "Mother City of West Texas". Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1968.

Comanche Village Massacre

Marker Title: Comanche Village Massacre
Address: Houston and Sixth St.
City: Colorado City
County: Mitchell
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: Ruddick Park, Houston and Sixth, Colorado City.
Marker Text: In this vicinity on a bank of the Colorado October 21, 1840; A Comanche Indian village was completely destroyed and much stolen property recovered including 500 horses; 128 Indians were killed; 34 were captured; The expedition commanded by Colonel John Henry Moore; Consisted of 90 citizen volunteers; Mostly residents of Fayette County; Seventeen friendly Lipan Indians under Chiefs Castro and Flacu served as guides; No Texans were killed and but two wounded. (1936)

Discovery Well of the Permian Basin

Marker Title: Discovery Well of the Permian Basin
Address: IH 20, 2 mi. W of Westbrook
City: Westbrook
County: Mitchell
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: IH-20 roadside park 2 miles west of Westbrook
Marker Text: The first commercial discovery oil well in the Permian Basin was named for W.H. Abrams, leasing agent for the Texas and Pacific land trust. The well first produced oil in February 1920 at a depth of 450 feet; but in June 1920, a better showing of oil was found at 2345-2410 feet. On July 16, 1920, the well was "shot" with nitroglycerin. As a crowd of 2,000 people looked on, a great eruption of oil, gas, water, and smoke shot from the mouth of the well almost to the top of the derrick. Shortly after, the well flowed at a rate of 129 barrels daily, but soon settled down to 20 barrels per day. From this well and a well nearby the Rio Grande Oil Company laid the first commercial oil pipeline in the Permian Basin. The first load of oil went through the pipeline on April 3, 1922. W.H. Abrams No. 1 was redesignated on May 1, 1968 as Westbrook southeast unit No. 701, formed to increase oil recovery from the Westbrook oil field by water flooding. This enhanced oil recovery technique has produced 67 million barrels of the more than 100 million barrels of oil recovered from this field. Designated as major fields, only a small number produce 100 million barrels of oil or more. Fifty-six major fields are located in the Permian Basin, the fourth largest oil producing area in the U.S. (1967, 1996)

William Marion Green

Marker Title: William Marion Green
Address: City Cemtery, Chestnut Street
City: Colorado City
County: Mitchell
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: City Cemetery, Colorado City east section of cemetery.
Marker Text: An orphan at age 7, Green learned self-reliance early. At 19, he joined the Texas Rangers. And at 20, he enlisted in Co. A of the Frontier Battalion. In 1874, his company helped capture members of John Wesley Hardin's gang who were raiding Comanche County; Green helped escort 7 of the outlaws to jail. He promoted the founding of the Texas Ex-Rangers Association in 1920, serving as Major of the group until his death. Recorded, 1968.

Heart of West Texas Museum

Museum Name: Heart of West Texas Museum
Street Address: 340 E. 3rd
City: Colorado City
Zip Code: 79512
Area Code: 915
Phone: 728-8285
County: Mitchell

Lone Wolf Mountain

Marker Title: Lone Wolf Mountain
Address: FM 644
City: Loraine
County: Mitchell
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: FM 644 at cemetery, southwest corner of Loraine.
Marker Text: Named for Chief of Kiowa Indians, held hostage by General Custer after the Washita campaign. Later released. Swore revenge on white man after son was killed. A clash took place on El Paso Road north of Ft. Concho, the location of Lone Wolf Mountain. Chief died 1879. (1967)

Y.D. McMurry

Marker Title: Y.D. McMurry
Address: Colorado City Cemetery
City: Colorado City
County: Mitchell
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Location: East section of city cemetery, Colorado City cemetery.
Marker Text: Born in Tennessee. Brought up in Fort Worth. In 1882 joined Co. B, Frontier Battalion, Texas Rangers, under a Brother, Capt. Sam McMurry--then enforcing law in Colorado City area. Y.D. McMurry, Mitchell County Sheriff 1892-1898, was one of captors of notorious murderer and train robber Bill Cooke. McMurry was a merchant and cotton broker, and for many years he was a deacon in the Presbyterian Church. Recorded, 1970.

Mitchell County

Marker Title: Mitchell County
Address: Oak and Third St.
City: Colorado City
County: Mitchell
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: At courthouse - east side - Oak and Third, Colorado City.
Marker Text: Settled after Indians left Texas in 1875. One of 129 counties created (Aug. 21, 1876) from Bexar Territory covering West Texas to the Panhandle and El Paso. Named for Mitchell Brothers, Asa and Eli, Texas War for Independence veterans. Organized Jan. 10, 1881 when the railroad came, making county seat Colorado City West Texas' "Mother City" and first boom town. Oil, sheep and cattle ranching center. Historic sites include Comanche Indian Village; seven wells, last buffalo watering hole. Annual events: Colorado City Frontier Roundup and Tumbleweed Festival. (1965)

Renderbrook Ranch

Marker Title: Renderbrook Ranch
Address: SH 16, on Spade Ranch
City: Colorado City
County: Mitchell
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: From Colorado City take SH 16 about 22 miles south to Spade Ranch gate. Drive about 3.3 miles onto ranch to marker and stone house.
Marker Text: Founded in buffalo and Indian days of 1870's by Taylor Barr. Owned 1882-1889 by D.H. and J.W. Snyder. They built "White House" headquarters; sold ranch, 1889 to Isaac L. Ellwood, an inventor of barbed wire, in DeKalb, Illinois. Ellwood paid in wire for Spade cattle from Donley County, to stock ranch. Added Sterling and Coke lands to original 130,000 acres; to distinguish this from range bought 1902 near Lubbock, called this Renderbrook (from name of spring where Indians shot a U.S. Cavalry officer in the 1870's). Ellwood heirs still run Spade brand on 2 ranches. (1965)

Seven Wells

Marker Title: Seven Wells
Address: SH 208, 6 mi. S of Colorado City
City: Colorado City
County: Mitchell
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: From Colorado City take SH 208 about 6 miles south to roadside park.
Marker Text: This area, now covered by Lake Champion, was once the site of springs that originated from underground water which also supplied Champion Creek. They were called "wells" because the Seven Spring Basins closely resembled man-made wells. Buffalo tracks cut deep into the creek banks of soft sandstone indicated this was a watering place for great herds of bison. At least four trails crisscrossed the area where north and south Champion Creeks converged. For hundreds of years Indians also camped here, and in the 1880s a small, early Mitchell County settlement named "Artesia" grew up at the site of the wells. (1968)


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