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 Texas : Towns A-Z / Ghost Towns / Gulf Coast :

LANE CITY, TEXAS

Wharton County, Texas Gulf Coast
Highway 60
3 Miles E of the Colorado River
10 Miles SE of Wharton
15 Miles N of Bay City

Population: 111 (since 1980)

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Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, July 2008
History in a Pecan Shell

Jonathan Lane, president of the Cane Belt Railroad is the town’s namesake. In 1900 the railroad ran from its Wharton County terminus (Lane City) to Eagle Lake (Colorado County). Lane had purchased some 25,000 acres of land from fabled rancher Shanghai Pierce. This land was resold a few years later to a land company that recruited settlers from northern states to come to Texas and become rice farmers. Financing was available at generous terms and a substantial pumping system using water from the Colorado River was built by the Bay Prairie Irrigation Company.

Jonathan Lane’s brother T. W. Lane, managed the system after it had become the Southern Irrigation Company by 1904. The plant was said to be the largest of it kind in the world. A post office opened in 1901 under the name of Arnim in the Arnim-Lane store. This partnership also operated a store in Flatonia, Texas which is still standing in 2008. In February of 1911 the town was renamed Lane City. Lane City peaked in 1909 when the economy was almost entirely based on rice farming. The town had all essential businesses and displayed its wealth through its “skyline” which included a rare two-story railroad depot, a two-story pharmacy, a two-story hotel as well as a three-story rice mill/ office and warehouse.

In July of 1909, the town was hit by a severe hurricane which swept through the area, demolishing each of the multi-story buildings and ruining the rice crop. The irrigation system was damaged and the town never recovered from the storm.

Rice cultivation has since been replaced by crops of corn, cotton and cattle feed although the old irrigation lines are still in use. The post office / store / gas station were still operating in 1990 although the 1903 Methodist church was demolished in 1984.

The Lane City school merged with the Wharton ISD in 1957. A Black Baptist church was reportedly still active in 1990. From a 1920 population of just 150 residents, Lane City peaked in 1960 with 200 residents which declined to just 111 in 1980 – the figure that’s still used on the 2008 map.
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