A Short History of Levelland Texas
Levelland, the county seat of Hockley County, is on U.S. Highway 385, State Highway 114, Farm Road 330, and the Santa Fe Railroad in the central part of the county. It was designated the county seat upon the county's organization in 1921. Located in West Texas in area known as the South Plains, it was first named Hockley City, but after some deliberation among the founding residents they chose to let the women elect the name and according to Nathan Tubb his mother stated “well the town is level” and Mrs. Bowers stated “let's call it Levelland."
Some pioneers were J.M. Fleming who opened a store in 1921 and sold it the same year to T.W. Bowers. B.E. Gunn, the schoolteacher, became the first postmaster. G.H. Tubb, who freighted supplies by truck from Lubbock, Rev. Tom Suttle, who established the First Missionary Baptist Church in 1923, and S.S. Ripley, who built the first house in 1921.
Service on the Santa Fe began in July 1925. C.W. Carmack started a newspaper in 1924, and in 1925, a bank, a gin, and a light plant began operation. The population was 1,663 in 1930, and the town continued to grow during the Great Depression. The county oil boom of the 1950s contributed a refinery and gas plant to existing businesses, which included cotton compresses, warehouses, gins, and grain elevators. Machine shops and other industries serving the oilfields also developed.
The population increased from 8,265 in 1950 to 13,809 in 1980. Civic clubs raised $50,000 to open a municipal park in 1951, and the airfield, road systems, and hospital were improved about the same time. Levelland built a county library in the 1950s, and the South Plains Museum was established in 1968.
South Plains College, a two year community college, opened in 1958, by 1974, it had 100 faculty members and 2,338 students. Being a top-tier two-year institution in the region, South Plains College has developed into an outstanding place where academic and technical training provide the workforce for tomorrow. Furthermore, South Plains College is a benefit to the area high school students giving them the opportunity to earn their Associates Degree through its dual credit programs.
Traditionally, Levelland ranks in the top five (5) cotton producing counties in the State of Texas. Another major economic factor is the discovery of oil in the 1930s in the western portion of the county. Due to the discovery, Levelland is a hub of Oil and Gas production in the area. In 1980, Levelland remained the commercial center of the county. Industries included petroleum processing, oilfield equipment manufacturing, and agribusiness.
Today, tourism is a growing and an important part of the Levelland Economy. In 2012 Hockley County opened the $15 million multi-purpose Mallet Event Center & Arena and the City of Levelland has broken ground on the regional Levelland-Oxy Sports Complex.