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PALANGANA, TEXAS. Palangana was seven miles north of Benavides in eastern Duval County. Its name, which means "basin" in Spanish, was taken from the Palangana Ranch and refers to the nearby salt dome eroded into a basin shape. Anthony F. Lucas, the discoverer of the Spindletop oilfield, drilled for oil on Palangana Dome in 1901 but found none and left. In 1919 James Walker Cain and Alfred H. Smith, still believing that oil was at the site, bought a lease of 3,100 acres, covering virtually the entire dome, and in the winter of 1924 they found sulphur instead of oil. Cain formed the Duval Texas Sulphur Company, which was ready for production in the fall of 1928. After the Texas-Mexican and Southern Pacific railroads both declined to build a branch line to Palangana, the resourceful Cain formed his own railroad company, the San Diego and Gulf Railway, which built an eight-mile spur connecting with the Texas-Mexican. The Palangana sulphur mine operated successfully until 1935, by which time Cain had acquired sulphur rights on part of Boling Dome in Fort Bend County. In 1947 the population of Palangana was estimated at fifty, but by 1968 it was no longer shown on maps of the area, though a few buildings and tanks still stood at the site.


Herbert Fletcher, The Quest of the Earth's Fullness: The Saga of James Walker Cain (Salado, Texas: Anson Jones Press, 1960).

Martin Donell Kohout


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

Martin Donell Kohout, "PALANGANA, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 29, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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