McLean, on Interstate Highway 40 in southeastern Gray County, is the second largest town in the county. In 1901 the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Texas Railroad Company dug a water well and built a switch and section house three miles inside Gray County. Around this switch the following year Alfred Rowe, an area rancher, laid out a townsite. The town was named for a Texas legislator and railroad commissioner, William P. McLean, and was granted a post office in 1902 with C. C. Cooke as postmaster. By 1904 McLean had three general stores, a bank, two wagonyards and livery stables, a lumberyard, and a newspaper, the McLean News. A windmill pumped water from a well drilled in the middle of Main Street, and citizens hauled the water in barrels and buckets. The town was incorporated in 1909 with C. S. Rice as mayor. Soon McLean became a center for area agriculture. Several hundred carloads of hogs and watermelons were shipped annually. Four telegraph operators were required to handle the messages of the railroad business.
In 1908 and again in 1919 McLean made an unsuccessful bid against Lefors to become the county seat. During the 1920s the town profited from the oil boom and became a shipping point for area livestock, gas, and oil. By 1940 McLean had six churches, a newspaper, fifty-nine businesses, and a population of 1,521. The growth of Amarillo and the emergence of Pampa as the county's industrial center helped to reduce the population to 1,447 in 1950, 1,330 in 1960, and 1,183 in 1970. In 1970 McLean had a hospital, a library, a bank, and fifty businesses. The number of businesses dropped to twenty-five by 1980, when the population was 1,160. In addition to a garment factory, McLean has had several industries connected with petroleum and its products. In 1990 the population was 849. The population was 830 in 2000.