Texas has been a major oil-producing state for over a century. The first big oil discovery in Texas was the Spindletop field near Beaumont in 1901, which set off a massive oil boom that transformed the state's economy and made Texas one of the wealthiest states in the country.
Runnels County is located in central Texas and has a rich and diverse history that dates back to ancient times. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Lipan Apache and Tonkawa tribes, who lived off the land and utilized the natural resources of the region.

In the mid-19th century, European settlers began to establish communities in the area that would become Runnels County. The county was officially established in 1858, named after Hiram G. Runnels, the third governor of the state of Mississippi. The first county seat was Runnels City, but it was later moved to the current county seat of Ballinger in 1888.

Like many areas in Texas, Runnels County experienced a boom in population and economic activity in the late 19th century due to the cattle industry and the arrival of the railroad. The county became known for its ranching and farming, with cotton becoming a prominent crop. The development of infrastructure, such as schools, churches, and businesses, contributed to the growth of the county during this period.

The early 20th century brought challenges to Runnels County, most notably the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. The economy suffered as agricultural production declined, and many residents were forced to leave in search of better opportunities. However, the county persevered, and in the latter half of the 20th century, industries such as oil and gas extraction, manufacturing, and renewable energy began to emerge, providing new sources of economic stability.

Today, Runnels County continues to be a predominantly rural community with a strong agricultural heritage. The county's small towns offer a glimpse into its past with historic buildings and museums, showcasing the history and culture of this resilient region in central Texas.

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

  • 1858 - Runnels County is officially established and named after Hiram G. Runnels, a former Texas governor
  • Mid to late 1800s - Settlements and ranching communities begin to form in the area
  • 1886 - Ballinger, the county seat, is founded and becomes a major center for trade and agriculture
  • Early 1900s - Runnels County experiences a boom in cotton farming, contributing to its economic growth
  • 1920s - Oil is discovered in the county, leading to increased industrial development
  • 1940s - World War II and the construction of Camp Bowie near Brownwood greatly impact the local economy
  • 1960s - Construction of O.H. Ivie Reservoir begins, providing a reliable water source for the county
  • 1980s - Decline in oil production and agriculture affects the county's economy
  • 2000s - Efforts to diversify the economy and promote tourism are implemented