Best, on the Santa Fe Railroad in southwestern Reagan County, was started in 1924 as an Orient Railroad switch, reputedly named for an English stockholder, Tom Best. After the discovery of oil in 1923, Best was developed as a supply center for the county's expanding production. By 1925 its population was an estimated 3,500. Although boosters envisioned a model town, undesirable oil-boom followers gave Best a wild reputation, as portrayed in Clyde Ragsdale's novel The Big Fist (1946). The reputation seems to have been deserved. There were enough murders, knifings, shootings, and brawls that the slogan became "the town with the Best name in the world and the Worst reputation." The town declined rapidly after 1925. By 1945 only a few businesses and 300 people remained. In 1983 there were two families and a service station-post office. In 1990 the population was twenty-five, and in 2000 the population was two.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Jane Spraggins Wilson | © Texas State Historical Association
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