History

In June 1881, the Texas and Pacific Railroad established a section house halfway between Fort Worth and El Paso named Midway. Three years later the Midland Town Company drilled a water well nearby and auctioned lots for the town on the southern edge of the Llano Estacado. In 1885 Midland County was carved from Tom Green County and the upstart community became a shipping point for the surrounding farm and ranch country. Store, banks, churches, and school arrived in “Windmill City” and, as the twentieth century began, Midland began the transformation from a wood-frame city to one of brick and mortar, even opening a small college in 1910.

The early decades held their challenges—droughts, the First World War, and the 1918 pandemic—but Midlanders persevered. The discovery of vast petroleum resources forever transformed West Texas. Midland leaders positioned the city as the office and financial center of the Permian Basin. Midland survived the tough years of the Great Depression and found new life contributing vast amounts of oil to the United States’ effort in World War II and training hundreds of bombardiers at the Midland Army Air Field. Midland helped fuel the prosperous postwar years as Americans created a near-insatiable demand for petroleum products. Among those who came to seek their fortune were future Presidents and millionaires.

The city grew skyward with new office buildings where a variety of oil-connected companies made Midland their headquarters. Visible for miles over the plains, Midland became the “Tall City,” riding the economic booms and bust of the oil business, creating fortunes, dashing dreams. At the end of the twentieth century, Midland was well-known at state, national, and even international levels. From the town founders to today’s leaders, Midlanders have always dreamed big, then rolled up their shoulders and gone to work. 

-Jim Collett, Midland Historical Society

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