The history of Shallowater

By Brittany Pieper  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Every town along NewsChannel 11s Live Community Coverage Tour this week has some sort of relationship to the railroad, and Shallowater is no exception.

Bonta Thompson was born in Shallowater 78 years ago. What she doesn't remember firsthand about the town's history, but she remembers hearing about as a little girl from her grandfather. "The reason they founded Shallowater - the railroad had just gone through and they needed a way to transport the cattle," Thompson said.

Rancher J.C. Bowles thought he could found a town on or near his property to attract the railroad. He convinced Bob Crump, the member of another local ranching family, to help form a townsite company.  The two men became the founders of Shallowater, but the town didn't always have that name.

At first, residents named it the Ripley Townsite Company after the president of the Santa Fe Railway System. However, another Ripley, Texas already existed so they had to change the name. "They called it Shallowater, and the reason it's called Shallowater is because back then you only had to dig about 90 feet to hit water," said Shallowater native Keny Arnole.

One of the town's founders, Bowles, met a violent death when a dispute with a neighbor led to a duel. "They had been feuding over the fence line for several years, so my grandfather said, and they finally decided to shoot it out," said Thompson. With several witnesses, the two men fought in front of where the Shallowater Police Station stands today. "They killed each other. Right in downtown Shallowater," Thompson said.

In its early days, the town continued to grow because of agriculture. In 1955 the town incorporated with a mayor-council form of government. Arnole says this is the single biggest event in the town's history that he can remember, "I got to go play and watch the guys work around the water and sewer lines when they put them in."

Around that time the town saw a business boom. "There was seven gas stations, a hardware store, and a lumber yard," said Arnole. In 1970 the town had 30 businesses including one of the largest chicken hatcheries in the county.

Since then, business has declined, but the sense of community remains. Arnole said, "Everybody in town knows everybody, and we are proud of that fact."

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