Community developed with building
of Orient Railroad in 1911; served as marketing and
ratail center for surrounding cattle and sheep ranches.
The University of Texas owned much of rather arid grazing
land around Big Lake where, in 1923, a large oil pool was
discovered with the Santa Rita No. 1. The discovery made
the University of Texas one of the richest schools in
nation. Today Big Lake is the seat of Reagan County; name
dreived from large, shallow depression to the south that
forms a broad, shallow lake during rare wet seasons.
Old Courthouse -
Northwest about 12 miles, among
flat tablelands and low hills, two-story building of
native stone in community of Stiles, county seat at turn
of century. When large landowner refused to let railroad
cross his property, the line built through Stiles and Big
Reagan County Park -
Large park area with community
center, pool, picnic shelters, camping (with hookups),
replica of Santa Rita No. 1. North of city via Utah Ave.
Santa Rita No. 1-
Actual well site with oil derrick
and some of the original equipment used during gusher of
May 28, 1923; 8,525-ft. well productive until 1990.
Historical marker outside fenced site gives more details
about the famous well that brought an era of prosperity
to West Texas. Four miles west of town on U.S. 67.