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Denver City History

Yoakum County, the location of Denver City, was created in 1876 and organized in 1907 from Bexar Territory. The county was named for Henderson Yoakum, pioneer, soldier, author and jurist who served in the Mexican War.

Beneath the South Plains is stored one-fourth of the nation's oil reserves. Oil is produced from five zones in the Denver City area. The oil industry accounts for about seventy-five percent of Denver City's economy. From a field of forty-four square miles surrounding the city, there is an approximate daily production of 250,000 barrels of crude oil.

Oil leasing activity in the area dates back to 1927, but it was not until 1935 that a successful oil strike was made. An expired lease rental led to drilling the wildcat. The discovery, well known as the No. 1-678 Ruth E. Bennett, was made October 10, 1935. It was shortly followed by other wells drilled in Yoakum County by the Denver Producing and Refining Company. These original wells remain strong and productive after seventy years. They have been incorporated into the gigantic Wasson Pool.

Closely as associated with the discrovery of oil was the emergence of the boom town of Denver city. Each area of West Texas had at least one main boom town, and each represents a different era. Denver City is the last West Texas town created wholly by the discovery of oil. The founding of Denver City was preceded by that of Wasson in the northern limits of Gaines County. Located three miles to the south of the Denver City town site, Wasson was founded in 12935 by Charles Cragin and Ben Eggink, drilling superintendent for Denver Producing and Refining Company. When the discovery wells drilled by Red Davidson and the Denver Producing and Refining Company got producer wells on the present site of Denver City, Ben Eggink decided that a move was in order to establish an oil field town closer to the center of the drilling activities. Because his partner, Cragin, was unwilling to enter the new venture, Eggink joined with C.S. Ameen who was at that time promoting a subdivision at Plains, the county seat. Together, they went to Midland to purchse land and successfully obtained surface rights to 320 acres from the Walsh brothers. Using persuasion and gifts of land, Eggink and Ameen got the needed support, and on Sunday morning in November 1939, they moved building and people from Wasson to Denver City. They moved on Sunday so no injunctions could be filed by those remaining in Wasson; the Sunday move, however did not stop a number of rifle shots over the heads of Eggink and his wife.

Denver City was a typical oil boom town in that all activity centered along Main Street. Rusty Mathers cleared the main street through the mesquite and sagebrush with a bulldozer. Numberous businesses sprang up, the first of which was Bryant L. Dulin's Humble Service Station. Soon the main street boasted sixteen grocery stores, sixteen dry goods, seventeen lumber yards, seventeen supply houses, and canvas tents were erected to house the people who worked in the Wasson Field.

Denver City was incorporated on March 26, 1940, and a mayor and city council were elected. It had two newspapers, Denver City News and Denver City Post. In May 1940, the city council ordered a fire truck and began to organize the Denver City Volunteer Fire Department. The city made great progress in 1940. Although there was no sewer system, there was a water company, and the city formed a gas company to replace the individual butane systems with natural gas.