Lubbock Lake National Historic and State Archeological Landmark

By: Eileen Johnson and Vance T. Holliday

Type: General Entry

Published: March 1, 1995

Updated: November 29, 2019

The Lubbock Lake National Historic and State Archeological Landmark (also known as Lubbock Lake Site, Lubbock Reservoir Site, and Lubbock Locality) is an archeological preserve of about 300 acres located on the southern High Plains of Texas in Yellowhouse Draw, an intermittent tributary of the Brazos River; the site is on the northern edge of Lubbock. The first archeological investigation of Lubbock Lake was done by the West Texas Museum (now the Museum of Texas Tech University) in 1939 and 1941, funded through the Work Projects Administration. The Texas Memorial Museum carried out work at the site in 1948, 1949, and 1951. The West Texas Museum conducted additional work at the site in 1959 and 1961. A later project began in 1972 under the auspices of the Museum, Texas Tech University, with excavations conducted under a Texas Antiquities Committee permit.

Lubbock Lake yielded burned bone from the first Paleo-Indian period (9883±350 B.P.) in 1950. The age originally thought to date the Folsom occupation now has been demonstrated to be associated with a later occupation. Lubbock Lake is a deep, well-stratified site with a virtually complete cultural, faunal, and floral record covering the past 11,500 years, defining five major stratigraphic units. Strata 1 and 2 contain the Paleo-Indian record, with Clovis occupation (11,100 B.P.) in stratum 1 and Folsom (10,500 B.P.), Plainview (10,000 B.P.), and Firstview (8,600 B.P.) occupations in stratum 2. Substratum 2E and strata 3 and 4 contain the record of the Early (8,500–6,400 B.P.), Middle (6,400–4,500 B.P.) and Late (4,500–2,000 B.P.) Archaic periods. The eolian (wind-borne) deposits in strata 3 and 4 provide evidence of the continued presence of man and bison in the area during that time. The lower stratum 5A contains Ceramic Period materials (800 B.P.-A.D. 1450) with evidence of Puebloan trade. Upper 5A contains Protohistoric materials (A.D. 1450–1650) of possible early Apache occupation. The Historic record (A.D. 1650–1900) is contained within the 5B deposits. The lowermost unit (A.D. 1650–1876) contains aboriginal materials that may reflect late Apache, then Comanche occupation, typified by butchered remains of horses and small triangular points. The production of fracture-based tools of both rock and bone was an important activity at Lubbock Lake, where expediency dictated that tools be made quickly and efficiently and a flexible repertoire in tool production of a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and functions developed.

The uppermost 5B deposits contain materials (A.D. 1876–1900) that reflect the Anglo settlement of the region. What is now the city of Lubbock was founded at Lubbock Lake with the establishment of the Singer Store in 1881. This store, the first commercial enterprise in the area, served early ranchers, the military, and occasional Indian groups. The documentation and specimens from Lubbock Lake excavations are housed in the Archaeology Division of the Museum, Texas Tech University, and the Texas Memorial Museum and Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory, University of Texas at Austin.

Craig C. Black, ed., "History and Prehistory of the Lubbock Lake Site," Museum Journal 15 (1974). Eileen Johnson, ed., Lubbock Lake (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1987).

  • Archeology
  • Land Sites

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

Eileen Johnson and Vance T. Holliday, “Lubbock Lake National Historic and State Archeological Landmark,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 06, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995
November 29, 2019