The History of Breckenridge

In 1858 the town of Breckenridge was provided for legally as the County Seat of Buchanan County (changed to Stephens County in 1861). The Buchanan trading post and Picketville were sites occupied prior to the establishment of the town of Breckenridge in 1876. Water had always been a major concern in Breckenridge/Stephens County where underground cisterns were the main source of water until the oil boom in 1920. In 1921 the first pipeline bringing water to town was built from the Clear Fork of the Brazos River at the Crystal Falls diversionary dam ten miles away. Fifty miles of pipe were also laid in the distribution system at that time.

During the 1880's and 1890's Breckenridge was still an agriculturally based economy of cattle and farming. In the period of 1916 and 1917 the Ranger oil boom changed life forever in this part of the rural West Texas. By 1920 the oil boom had reached Breckenridge and, like many other oil field towns, it attracted young men with families, doctors, lawyers, and business men representing industry and commercial interests as well. Before long civic improvements began in the form of paving, schools, fire departments, churches, and a YMCA, built in 1923, which still stands today. The oil boom changed everything. The estimated population of Breckenridge in 1920 was 1,500. In 1921, a year later, the population was estimated to be 30,000 and soon the community leaders had the town well organized. Unlike some towns, Breckenridge allowed drilling within the city limits. One article in 1920 noted that "....175 wells completed and being drilled and not one dry hole has yet been encountered."