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LANE CITY, TX

LANE CITY, TEXAS. Lane City is on State Highway 60 and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line three miles east of the Colorado River and ten miles southeast of Wharton in southeastern Wharton County. The town was named for Jonathan Lane, attorney and president of the Cane Belt Railroad. In 1900 the Cane Belt completed its line from Eagle Lake to a terminus in Wharton County, prompted by a bonus from the Missouri-Lincoln Trust Company, St. Louis. The terminus was named Lane City. Lane bought 25,000 acres in Wharton County in 1901, probably from Abel Head (Shanghai) Pierceqv. This land was crossed by the Cane Belt. Lane then sold the 25,000 acres to Missouri-Lincoln Trust Company in 1908 for $600,000 and, through the promotional skills of the Colonial Land Company, settlers began to pour into the area. A brochure, A Trip to the Gulf Coast of Texas, was distributed in northern states. Rice was to be the route to riches, as the brochure gave names, acreage, barrels of rice sold, and profit per acre. The land was sold in tracts of 120 acres or more, priced at thirty-five dollars to fifty dollars an acre, with a cash down-payment of only six dollars-with an agreement to plant 75 percent of the acreage in rice and to deliver two-fifths of the yearly crop toward the balance due. A huge pumping plant was situated on the Colorado, with two smaller lift plants to transfer the irrigation water to the farmers. The water was sold and supplied by the Bay Prairie Irrigation Company, later known as the Southern Irrigation Company. T. W. Lane, brother to Jonathan Lane and president of London Oil and Gas Company, Beaumont, began to manage the Southern Irrigation Company interests in 1904. The plant was promoted as the largest pump of its kind in the world. The main plant could throw a forty-five-inch stream of water, and the two lift plants were placed three miles apart to serve a twenty-three-mile canal system. Sometime after 1902 the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe built a rail spur to the pumping plant on the Colorado River; around 1940 the spur was discontinued and a county road was put into place on the rail bed.

A post office called Arnim was established in 1901 in the Arnim-Lane mercantile store, but the name was changed to Lane City on February 13, 1911. At its peak in 1909 Lane City had several grocery and mercantile stores, Methodist and Baptist churches, a saloon, a lumberyard, a blacksmith shop, a nursery, a school, a two-story brick depot, a two-story drugstore and Knights of Pythias lodge, a two-story hotel, and a three-story building for rice offices, mill, and warehouses. Lane City was the scene for many social events, some with as many as 200 guests in attendance. Everyone was making money with rice or business related to it. The Gulf Coast Nursery supplied citrus, peach, and fig trees for commercial planting. Some evidence of land depletion began to be felt and farmers were advised to run hogs, cattle, and turkeys on the land after the harvest to enrich the soil. The final blow came in July 1909, when a large Gulf storm blew in and destroyed the crops and most of the structures in the area. The pumping plant, valued at $250,000, was severely damaged, and all the two-story buildings were destroyed. Lane City never recovered.

When sulfur was discovered on the Boling Dome, the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe built a rail spur from Lane City to Newgulf and onward to tie into the main line at Thompsons, Fort Bend County-a distance of thirty-four miles. Oil and gas production crested in the 1950s and the early 1980s. In 1948 a school-consolidation election failed, but students from Lane City were allowed to attend Wharton high school, as Lane City had no high school teachers. The Lane City school was consolidated with the Wharton Independent School District in 1957. The Perma-Pom factory opened at the community in 1974, manufacturing pom-poms for cheerleaders; in the early 1990s it employed sixty to seventy persons during peak season and thirty-five to forty-five year-round. The factory is on the same site as the former sugar mill, which had been followed by the rice mill and then a cotton gin, which burned down. In 1990 farming was still the main enterprise in the area, but rice had been replaced with corn, milo, and cotton. At that time the canal system was still in place and was owned by the Lower Colorado River Authority. The post office and a combination grocery store and gas station were still in service at the community in 1990. The local Methodist church membership declined, and the structure, built in 1903, was torn down in 1984. Only a black Baptist church remained active at Lane City in 1990. Lane City reported a population of 150 in 1920, 200 in 1960, and 111 in 1980 through 2000.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Matagorda County Historical Commission, Historic Matagorda County (3 vols., 1986–88). Annie Lee Williams, A History of Wharton County (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1964).

Merle R. Hudgins

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Merle R. Hudgins, "LANE CITY, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll15), accessed September 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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