The Amusing History of Wichita Falls, TX
Wichita Falls, Texas looked like it came out of a movie with its quintessential frontier city feel in 1882 when it was founded.
Poker Games and Town Formulations in Wichita Falls, TX
The city with its unique character and personality has an amusing history beginning with the legend that it came into being after John A. Scott from Mississippi won it in a New Orleans poker game. Scott packed away his certification of purchase for the land, promptly forgot about it, and later on, it was discovered by his heirs. Upon request from Scott’s heirs, M.W. Seeley mapped out the town site on the Wichita River. See included the names of a handful of streets, a tiny waterfall that was later discovered to have washed away, and a town square. He also included a late that didn’t actually exist, he plopped a steamboat on the river, and included the cotton and goods that would hopefully eventually teem from the warehouses. Despite Seely’s gentle and artistic urging, the city never became a steamboat shipping center.
1869 Bank Robbery in Wichita Falls, TX
1896 was a difficult year for Wichita Falls, particularly February 25, 1896. On this day, in the Depot Square Historic District, Frank Dorsey, the City National Bank cashier was killed by two cowboys who robbed the bank at gunpoint. They departed the scene of the crime on the typical 1800’s vehicle of choice, a horse. The two bank robbers, Foster Crawford and Elmer “Kid” Lewis were found, captured, and hung by a disgruntled mob two days later on the Southeast corner of Seventh and Ohio streets.
Kemp and Kell Depot Route
Like so many other cities founded in the 1800’s Wichita Falls TX, was built and thrived around the railroad. The Kemp and Kell Depot, which was built in 1909, and named after the Industrialists Frank Kell and Joseph Kemp is a beautiful example of Renaissance Revival architecture. The Route building, which is all that remains of what was once a bustling train station, was home to the offices of Kell and Kemp, a passenger depot, and a freight depot. The fist train arrived in the city on September 27, 1882.
In 1930, immediately before the Great Depression, the population of Wichita Falls, Texas was 43, 607. There were more churches in the town, 47 of them to be exact, than there were parks, railroads, and schools. The Great Depression certainly had an impact on the town but it didn’t halt its growth mainly because in 1938, oil was discovered near Kamay. Just 10 years after the beginning of the Great Depression the population shot up to 55, 200, in addition to increases in bank deposits, paved roads, and incoming retail and wholesale stores.
Wichita Falls, TX retains much of its frontier charm and character despite all it’s been through, including a tornado in 1979 that destroyed nearly 20% of the town, mostly in the south. The community continues to grow and change while staying rooted in its amusing history and endearing loveliness.
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