MIRANDO CITY, TEXAS. Mirando City is on Ranch Road 649 thirty miles east of Laredo and 110 miles west of Corpus Christi in eastern Webb County. The elevation is 600 feet above sea level. The townsite, on land originally granted to Nicolás Mirando, was previously occupied by a small ranching community. When the Texas-Mexican Railway built through the area in 1881, the community acquired a small siding that enabled it to ship cattle and sheep. In addition to livestock, the area around Mirando City has also long supported the peyote cactus. Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, and Starr counties contain the only commercial range of peyote in the United States. Area residents known as peyoteros have harvested and supplied peyote for religious ceremonies to Indians in the United States since the nineteenth century. Indians also travel to Mirando City from across the country to harvest the cactus themselves.
In April 1921 Oliver Winfield Killam brought in the first commercial oil well in the area. Killam, who had already promoted the town of Locust Grove in Oklahoma, bought land in Mirando Valley and started laying out the town of Mirando City in September 1921. Several months later, in December, a gusher at another drilling site ushered in an oil boom. Lots began selling rapidly, and the town quickly became the hub of activity in the oilfield. A post office was established in 1922. Mirando City had the distinction of being one of the few towns established in Texas without a nearby water supply. Until the fall of 1922 all of the drinking water for the town was hauled from the neighboring community of Bruni at a cost of $13.00 per tank car. Two tanks and a pump were furnished by O. W. Killam and located near the Mirando City Lumber Company, which Killam had established earlier that year. Also in 1922, William W. Sterling and John Long organized the first water company in Mirando City. They dug wells in the nearby village of Los Ojuelos, which had flowing springs. The partners then laid a pipeline to Mirando City, constructed a 500-barrel storage tank, and installed the town’s first water meters. The heavy water use dropped the water table, however, and the springs at Los Ojuelos dried up. Although deepened several times, the wells themselves dried up in the 1930s, and other wells were drilled farther east to supply Mirando City.
In the fall of 1922 a power plant was built to furnish electricity to the community. After eight months of operation the plant closed, but on May 12, 1923, Richard C. Young, a resident of Mirando City, purchased the plant, and power was subsequently resumed. The Mirando City Bank operated from June 1922 to May 1923. During the 1930’s, successful businesses in Mirando City included H. F. Danmier Trucks, founded by Herbert F. Danmier in 1923; Long Brothers Drilling Company, founded by John D. Long in 1923; and the Border Foundry and Machine Company, founded by Edgar and Conrad Mims in 1922. The Mirando City Record, the unincorporated town’s only newspaper, was established by Weldon Pharr on June 12, 1939. The newspaper, published every Friday, reached a peak circulation of 1,500 in September 1939. After a successful two-year run, the newspaper ceased publication in 1941.
During the expansion years of the town, prominent residents included Deputy Sheriff William W. Sterling, independent oil operator George L. Buck, Triangle Garage owner Richard C. Young, and R & S Truck Company owner Gus A. Becker. Because there was no school district, town residents, along with Killam, organized to form the first school. Killam agreed to pay half the salary for a teacher, while the residents agreed to pay the other half and find an appropriate building in which to conduct classes. In September 1922, the school opened with fifteen pupils from the first through sixth grades. The Mirando Independent School District was established in March 1923. The first commencement exercises were held on May 10, 1927. Three years later Mirando High School was accredited by the state of Texas.
Throughout the early years of Mirando City, several neighboring communities played a pivotal role in the success of the town’s development. Aguilares, six miles west of Mirando City, supplied the fledgling town with dry goods during the first few months of its existence. Bruni, ten miles east of Mirando City, provided a meat market and several restaurants. Oilton, two miles northeast of Mirando City, was a source of firewood. Los Ojuelos, three miles south of Mirando City, provided drinking water for several months before a water company was established in the town. With the development of the South Texas oil industry, the town’s population soared from fewer than 100 residents in 1922 to more than 1,000 by 1925. In 1929 the population peaked at an estimated 1,500. In 1990 the population of Mirando City was 559.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Michael F. Black, ed., Mirando City: A New Town in a New Oil Field (Laredo: Laredo Publishing, 1972). Stan Green, The Rise and Fall of Rio Grande Settlements: A History of Webb County (Laredo, Texas: Border Studies, 1991). George R. Morgan and Omer C. Stewart, “Peyote Trade in South Texas,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 87 (January 1984). Hermilinda Murillo, A History of Webb County (M.A. thesis, Southwest Texas State Teachers College, 1941).
Laura Lamar Ramirez
Copied from the University of Texas web pages, Texas Handbook Online.