Life-long resident shares Idalou history

By Ben Lawson - bio | email

IDALOU, TX (KCBD) - The story of Idalou is a story of the railroad, and cotton, but of course it goes deeper than that. This community grew up around a railroad switch and small depot built when railroad crews connected Lubbock and Crosbyton in 1911.

If you ask how the community came to be known as Idalou, you'll probably hear two stories. Some say the name came from early settlers Lou Bacon and his wife Ida. Others say the town is named after Ida and Lou Bassett, daughters of Julian M. Bassett, of the Crosby-Bassett Livestock Company.

"They both agree on Ida and Lou," Bruce Isom said.  He has called Idalou home for his entire life. Now 80-years-old, he knows a lot, but even he doesn't know how the name actually came about.  "That was a little before my time, not a whole lot, but some," Isom said.

Isom was born in 1929, just four years after Idalou was incorporated. At that time, the community had 538 residents and 28 businesses. "I can remember when we had, of course they were small, but had four grocery stores and had a bank, so along about that time, why evidently Idalou was doing pretty well as far as people gathering," Isom said.

He recalls most activities being centered around the school.  "School spirit hasn't changed," Isom said.  Idalou Rural High School was built in 1922, and completely remodeled in 1936. It was the only rural high school on the South Plains to have a radio and public address system installed. Isom says the school didn't have a football team until the year after he graduated.

"One of the big events was on election night," Isom said.  He says folks would gather in town, where they set up a large black board. "Great big crowd to watch the returns and they'd post the returns up on that black board," Isom said.

The town continued to grow with emerging agriculture. Isom tells us his father drilled one of the first area water wells for irrigation.  "He drilled the first well in 1938, and I can remember cars being lined up along a country road out there to come and see that well," Isom said.

Now, with a population of more than 2,000, Isom expects his hometown to continue to prosper. "We're growing; there's a new addition; they're building it all the time," Isom said.

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