Sour Lake, Texas is an off the beaten path small town on Texas Route 105. Since I-10 and US 90 both run south of this small town, you won’t just happen upon it. My cousin was aware of the historic relevance, as the location of the first oil well by The Texas Company, whom we all know as Texaco. Since we already planned to not take the interstate, coming here was not out of our way and I’m glad we made the stop.
Sour Lake already had made a name for itself as a destination in the mid-1800’s due to it’s waters with a high sulfur content that flowed into a lake. Native Americans had used the lake for it’s healing properties and settlers would eventually have a hotel and resort that would bring people from all the country to this little town, including General Sam Houston.
The sulfur was also important during the Civil War, used for priming Telegraph batteries, indicated on a historic marker in the town.
Due to the oil discovery the population was speculated to reach a high of up to 10,000 people in the early 1900’s (source: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjs20 ) however, declined to around 1,500 by the 1950’s and has stayed within the range of 1,400 to 1,800 persons since.
While the oil brought some fortunes and wealth, it was not without costs. Drilling the ground for oil caused the ground to collapse and created a toxic situation within the lake rendering the lake no longer safe for humans and causing the demise of the Sour Lake Springs Hotel and related businesses.
Another sad part of this town’s history is learning it was declared a “sundown town” and promoted the violent removal of blacks from the town in 1903. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sour_Lake,_Texas ).
From being a place I had never heard of, to a place with a very interesting history. If staying in Beaumont, it is not a far drive and worth checking out for it’s history and painted murals.