Big Lake

Big Lake, Texas

Big Lake, Texas

Downtown view of Big Lake Texas, the seat of Reagan County, Texas Photograph credit: Terry Jeansen via
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Map of Reagan County

Big Lake is on State Highway 137, U.S. Highway 67, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway seven miles north of the Crockett county line in south central Reagan County. In 1905 the Coates family settled on the west side of the water-filled depression called Big Lake, a landmark holding the only fresh water between the Concho rivers and Comanche Springs at Fort Stockton. The Taylor family took up land on the east side of the water. In 1911 T. H. Taylor sold 320 acres of land to the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway of Texas for a townsite and station. The townsite, named for the lake located two miles to the south, was laid out, and a stock pen was built to hold cattle for railroad shipment. A boxcar became the depot, and a hotel with family-style dining was established. The Nairn family opened a grocery store near the tracks, and the Anderson family began a general mercantile store. W. W. Coates and A. H. Garner installed a line from Stiles, the county seat, to Big Lake to give the community telephone service. A public school was started with fifteen students in a small building that later became the Methodist parsonage. The town was ready for the arrival of the railroad. In 1912 the KCM&O built tracks from Mertzon to Girvin by way of Big Lake, and a post office was established. By fall of 1915 forty to fifty people lived in the community.

On May 28, 1923, oil was discovered in Reagan County near the town of Big Lake (see BIG LAKE OILFIELD). That summer, oil leases sold for quick profits for local landowners and out-of-town speculators. Several new cafes, a hardware store, and a lumberyard opened to profit from the expected Big Lake boom; the hotel was expanded by a twelve-room addition; and Big Lake citizens voted to incorporate on August 15. In 1925, when a population of 100 was reported and when Big Lake appeared to be the most important town in the county, it became the county seat. The town grew to a population of 1,500 by 1927 and to 2,000 by the next year.

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Julia Cauble Smith | © TSHA

Handbook of Texas Logo

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Big Lake is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Big Lake is classified as a Town


Latitude: 31.19341910
Longitude: -101.45795000

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated


Population Count, 2021 View more »