Moore County Seat,
Junction of US 87 and 287, and Hwy 152
34 miles S of Strafford
49 miles N of Amarillo
71 miles W of Pampa
Population: 14,769 (2010) 13,747 (2000) 12,871(1990)
the State Travel Guide, Dumas offers "scenic beauty in rugged
canyons and hills of Canadian River brakes."
Texas sunset 10 miles outside of Dumas
Photo courtesy James Feagin, 2001
a Pecan Shell
was Louis Dumas, an investor in the Texas
railroad lands. Dumas formed the Panhandle Townsite Company.
He and other investors saw unlimited opportunitiest here and after
forming the Moore County Township Company, the town that was to
bear his name was platted.
The first building housed the company office, a hotel, a general
store, and the first post office. When Moore County was organized,
Dumas became the county seat and a courthouse
soon joined the other buildings.
In the early 1890s the town was devastated when grasshoppers ate
nearly all of Moore County’s flora. The following year a severe
winter drove away many of the county’s pioneers, depleting the population
nearly to extinction. It was so bad that even Mr. Dumas himself
“went back where he came from.”
The town may be on the list of ghost
towns if it wasn’t for the tenacity of the Nield family who
toughed it out. The town was without a railroad connection and any
building material or supplies had to be brought overland from Amarillo.
With a population of less than fifty people, Dumas was a town living
on the edge, both literally and figuratively when it was announced
a railroad was planning on building through town. The population
almost instantly quadrupled, which meant that it barely reached
The railroad venture failed, but the seed was sown for growth, nonetheless.
The population doubled to 200 residents.
Finally, in the mid 1920s, oil and natural gas were discovered and
residents were beginning to feel things were finally changing for
A railroad (the
North Plains and Santa Fe) finally arrived in 1931 and despite the
Great Depression, Dumas expanded. A new courthouse
was built and a fire department was organized. The town received
its first paved streets.
the census department by reaching 2,500 people at the height of
the Great Depression. The installation of several carbon black plants
swelled the population to over 6,000 by 1950.
The drilling of new water wells and the building of new petro-chemical
facilities increased the population to new heights. In 1960 it was
8,477 in 1960 and twenty years later it had reached over 12,000.
By 2000 it had reached a population nearing 14,000.
Landmarks / Attractions:
on the Plains" Museum -
1820 S. Dumas Ave. 806-935-3113
- Southeast of Dumas
Fishing, swimming, boating and water skiing.
Hotels - Book Here
|The Evelyn Theater
Photo courtesy Billy
Smith, June 1999
Texas, 1920 by Louise George
Mill Boyd - "The first I remember of Dumas was the first night we
got here. It was along in April or May, and we were out of Dumas
a few miles in a Model T car coming from Amarillo, and a rain had
just gone through and cleaned everything off, and it looked so pretty.
There was not a tree, not a fence - nothing. Out about three miles,
along about the Stallwitz farm, I looked and I could see the town.
I could see that white courthouse with that cupola on top with just
a few houses here and there, dotted around. Dumas was so little
and it looked so lonesome. I thought, 'Oh dear! Where have I come
Days by Louise George
J.T. Brown - “...When I was in school, the school was up there where
the Christian Church is now, up there on west Fifth or Sixth, somewhere
in there. There were two big old two-story buildings there for schoolhouses.
The class I graduated with in 1931 was the last class to finish
in the old school building..."
Christmas by Louise George
Photo courtesy James Feagin, 2001
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/
tower and statue in Dumas
Photo courtesy James Feagin, 2001
and Moore County Chamber of Commerce: 806-935-2123
I will never forget July 29, 1956. I was five years old. The fire
siren in Sunray blew and we could
see the smoke from the refinery north of Dumas. My mother was very
scared because my Dad was a volunteer fireman in Sunray. When the
phone rang later my mother started crying... Dad had been badly
burned when one of the tanks exploded. Later, Dad said he could
tell the tank was about to go and he and the men with him began
to run. There was a small berm nearby and Dad was able to get to
it. The flames went over Dad and burned the back of his head and
severely burned his arms... but he survived as did other men from
the Sunray volunteer fire department. Sadly, others from the small
community fire department did not. Even though I was very young
at the time, I remember some of the men who died that day and how
the whole town of Sunray mourned.
Yes, they are heros.... from a time and place where heroism really
meant something. - Randy Foshee, Canon City, Colorado, September
Fire at Diamond Shamrock July 29, 1956 - 50 Year Memorial
There were 19 men killed by fire and explosion with 33 people injured.
Four men who were fatally injured were employees of the refinery,
and thus not included as members of either Dumas or Sunray Volunteer
At least one man (D.C. Lilley) had his name misspelled [on the monument].
His correctly spelled name is D.C. Lilley. As his son I have quite
a lot of info on this incident. There are monuments in Sunray
and Dumas and a 50 year memorial is planned for 2006 in Dumas.
The NYC firefighters were all headed upward on 9-11-01. They are
among heroes anywhere. Out of over 5 million people, 343 firefighters
died that day. On July 29, 1956, nine men ( 8 firefighters and 1
refinery employee) died among a town with a population of 1,240.
I consider them all heroes as well as the men who found them and
carried them to medical services. (We don't know who most of them
were.) They have my eternal thanks. The burial of most of these
men was at Lane Memorial Cemetery located one mile N. of
Sunray and approx 1/4 mile east on
a (now paved) FM road.
Four of these men were members of the First Baptist Church of Sunray.
They were Broxson, Emmett, D.C. Lilley, and Weir. Funerals were
held on July 30 and 31, 1956 with mourners lining both sides of
the road from the church to Lane Memorial Cemetery.
I lived northwest across from the church and watched these funerals.
My father's being the last. All funerals were closed casket from
this refinery fire and explosion.
My biggest regrets are my family not meeting my father.
Thanks for the article and time you've spent setting up this website.
May God Bless. - Larry Lilley, Retired Fire Dist. Chief of the Lubbock
Fire Department, Active duty: 27 years, 2 months, Lubbock,
Texas, March 19, 2006
in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas,
asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact