Historic cemetery in
Winkler, Texas

Texas was once an independent country: After winning its independence from Mexico in 1836, Texas became its own country, known as the Republic of Texas. It existed as an independent nation for nine years before being annexed by the United States in 1845.
Winkler County, Texas, located in the western part of the state, has a rich history that dates back to its establishment in 1887. Named after Confederate Colonel Clinton M. Winkler, the county initially saw limited settlement and development due to its remote location and arid environment. However, the arrival of the railroad in the early 1900s sparked growth in the area.

During the early years, the economy of Winkler County was primarily based on agriculture and cattle ranching. Farmers grew crops such as cotton, maize, and sorghum, while ranchers raised livestock in the vast open spaces. These industries thrived until the devastating drought of the 1930s, which severely impacted agricultural productivity and forced many residents to leave.

The discovery of oil in 1926 radically transformed the county and ushered in a new era of prosperity. Winkler County became an important player in the West Texas oil boom, attracting thousands of people in search of work and fortune. Oil companies and drilling operations quickly sprang up, providing employment and boosting the local economy. The discovery of the oilfield at Hendrick Ranch marked the beginning of a thriving oil industry that continues to this day.

Over the years, Winkler County has experienced ups and downs in its oil industry, with periods of boom and bust. However, the county has also made efforts to diversify its economy. Today, in addition to oil production, agriculture remains an important sector, with ranching and crop cultivation contributing to the local economy. Winkler County also benefits from its proximity to the Permian Basin, one of the most significant oil-producing regions in the country. Despite the challenges faced throughout its history, Winkler County has grown into a resilient community with its roots deeply intertwined with the oil industry, while also maintaining its agricultural heritage.

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

  • 1910 - Winkler County is officially established from parts of Tom Green County and Loving County.
  • 1926 - The Hendrick oilfield is discovered, leading to a boom in population and economic growth.
  • 1930 - Wink, the county seat, is incorporated.
  • 1940s - Winkler County experiences a decline in population due to the end of the oil boom.
  • 1970 - The Wink Sink No. 1, a large sinkhole, is formed in the county.
  • 1984 - The Wink Sinkhole is designated a state park.
  • 1991 - The Wink Sinkhole expands and causes damage to infrastructure in the area.
  • 1998 - The Wink Sinkhole is closed to the public due to safety concerns.
  • 2017 - Winkler County celebrates its centennial anniversary.