Ector County, Texas Genealogy & History

Penwell, Texas

Penwell, sixteen miles southwest of Odessa in southwestern Ector County, was named for J. H. Penn, a veteran West Texas oil operator, who drilled the discovery well of the Penwell-Jordan oilfield. When Penn's well, the R. R. Penn Kloh-Rumsey No. 1, came in on October 7, 1929, the area began to develop rapidly. The townsite was officially laid out on November 8, 1929, and a post office was established there in 1930. The first residents lived in tents or hastily constructed shacks, but eventually better housing was built. Because many of the early

Cafe in Penwell.  Enlarge the photo

settlers were only temporary residents, accurate population statistics are difficult to ascertain. For example, Penwell's 1930-31 population was given as 230 in one source, but as 3,000 in another. According to one source, during the early 1930s Penwell had six lumberyards, several rooming houses, several filling stations, two or three clothing stores, two hotels, a doctor's office, a drugstore, a barbershop, a pool hall, a dance hall, and a paper, the Penwell News. For a while there was also a school, but later local students were transferred to the Odessa schools. After the 1930s Penwell's population decreased because of a decline in local oil drilling and the movement of workers to larger cities. In 1980 its population was estimated at seventy-five, and the town included a post office, a service station, a welding shop, and a beer store. Some ranches were in the vicinity. In the 1980s the nearby Odessa Raceway Park was operating from May through October. Monahans State Park is just outside of town. In 1990 the population of Penwell was reported as seventy-four.  Penwell History from the Handbook of Texas Online

Birthplace of Ector County's Oil boom. First civic development here was wide-open town, "Derrick City", platted March 1927, after Dec. 28, 1926, oil discovery by driller Josh Cosden on land of W. E. Connell, near the old farming and cattle station, Judkins. However, when Connell well began pumping only 20 barrels a day, the boom crowd moved away. The city was abandoned. As nearby counties off the railroad struck oil that had to be shipped by the Texas & Pacific to refineries, Ector County in 1927 had a "Truck Drivers Boom" --a foretaste of the leadership in supply and servicing that was to develop progressively. Then on Oct. 14, 1929, on Robert Penn's land here, a 375-barrel per day well came in. With that showing, exploration continued, soon followed by the Penn Well, the 600 to 700-barrel a day gusher. In a busy, bustling and prosperous tent city, the Penwell Post Office was established June 30, 1930. This has remained a central distributing and shipping point for numerous fields in several permian basin counties, thereby establishing and earned reputation as "The Crossroads of the oil patch".

Historical Marker Text, W. City Limits, Hwy. 80. Penwell

Old Penwell Post Office Photo from OdessaHistory.org