Levelland, the county seat of Hockley County, is on U.S. Highway 385, State Highway 114, Farm Road 330, and the Santa Fe Railroad in the central part of the county. It was designated the county seat upon the county's organization in 1921. Originally the site was named Hockley City by Charles W. Post, who surveyed it in 1912. Development did not begin until the county organized in 1921. In 1922 the town was renamed for its local topography; it grew rapidly. J. M. Fleming opened a store in 1921 and sold it the same year to T. W. Bowers. B. E. Gunn, the schoolteacher, became the first postmaster. Other pioneers were G. H. Tubb, who freighted supplies by truck from Lubbock; Rev. Tom Suttle, who established the First Missionary Baptist Church in 1923; and S. S. Ripley, who built the first house in 1921. Service on the Santa Fe began in July 1925. C. W. Carmack started a newspaper in 1924; and in 1925 a bank, a gin, and a light plant began operation. The population was 1,663 in 1930, and the town continued to grow during the Great Depression. The county oil boom of the 1950s contributed a refinery and gas plant to existing businesses, which included cotton compresses, warehouses, gins, and grain elevators. Machine shops and other industries serving the oilfields also developed. The population increased from 8,265 in 1950 to 13,809 in 1980. Civic clubs raised $50,000 to open a municipal park in 1951, and the airfield, road systems, and hospital were improved about the same time. Levelland built a county library in the 1950s, and the South Plains Museum was established in 1968. South Plains College, a two-year community college, opened in 1958; by 1974 it had 100 faculty members and 2,338 students. In 1980 Levelland remained the commercial center of the county. Industries included petroleum processing, oilfield-equipment manufacturing, and agribusiness. In 1990 the population was 13,986. The population dropped to 12,866 in 2000.
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