National Register Listing in
Coke County, Texas

Texas is home to the world's largest bat colony. The Bracken Bat Cave, near San Antonio, is home to millions of Mexican free-tailed bats.
Coke County, located in west-central Texas, has a rich history that dates back to the mid-19th century. The area was initially inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Comanche and Lipan Apache, who roamed the region for centuries. It wasn't until the mid-1800s, with the arrival of European settlers, that the area began to be populated.

The county was officially established in 1889 and named after Richard Coke, a former Texas governor. Its earliest settlers were primarily ranchers, drawn to the fertile land and ample water sources in the area. With the introduction of the railroad in the late 1800s, the county's economic growth accelerated, and small communities such as Bronte, Robert Lee, and Tennyson sprang up along the tracks.

During the early 20th century, oil was discovered in Coke County, leading to a substantial boom in the local economy. The newfound prosperity brought an influx of new residents, and oil rigs dotted the landscape for decades. In addition to oil, agriculture also played a significant role in the county's development, with farming and ranching serving as the primary economic activities alongside the oil industry.

Today, Coke County remains largely rural and continues to be known for its agricultural and oil-related industries. Its communities have preserved their historic charm, and visitors can explore landmarks such as the historic Coke County Courthouse, which was built in 1930 and still stands as a testament to the county's rich history. The area's natural beauty, including scenic rivers and rolling hills, also attracts outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife enthusiasts. Overall, the history of Coke County reflects the resilience and adaptability of its residents, who have embraced its unique heritage while embracing the opportunities of the modern era.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Coke County, Texas.

  • 1889 - Coke County is officially established, named after Governor Richard Coke.
  • 1891 - The town of Hayrick is designated as the county seat.
  • 1893 - Hayrick is renamed to Robert Lee in honor of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
  • 1914 - The Santa Fe Railroad reaches Robert Lee, boosting the town's economy.
  • 1923 - The first oil well is drilled in Coke County, leading to an oil boom in the region.
  • 1932 - The Great Depression causes a decline in the county's economy, with many oil wells shutting down.
  • 1942-1945 - During World War II, a German prisoner of war camp is established in Coke County.
  • 1951 - Lake Spence is constructed, providing a source of water for the region and recreational opportunities.
  • 1980s - Oil production in Coke County experiences a resurgence, leading to renewed economic growth.
  • 2009 - The Robert Lee Volunteer Fire Department wins the World Championship in the Firefighter Combat Challenge.