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Moore County Seat, Texas Panhandle
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: 13,747 (2000) 12,871(1990)

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According to the State Travel Guide, Dumas offers "scenic beauty in rugged canyons and hills of Canadian River brakes."
West Texas sunset, Dumas, Texas
West Texas sunset 10 miles outside of Dumas

Photo courtesy James Feagin, 2001

Dumas History in a Pecan Shell

Dumas’ namesake 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 100 people

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 the better.

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.

Dumas surprised 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.

Evelyn Theater, Dumas, Texas
The Evelyn Theater in Dumas
Photo courtesy Billy Smith, June 1999

Dumas Attractions

  • Moore County Courthouse
  • Eight City Parks
  • "Windows on the Plains" Museum -
    1820 S. Dumas Ave. 806-935-3113
  • Lake Meredith - Southeast of Dumas
    Fishing, swimming, boating and water skiing.
  • Dumas Hotels - Book Your Hotel Here & Save
  • Entering Dumas

    Photo courtesy James Feagin, 2001
    Dumas Chronicles
    Dumas, 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 to?'...

    School 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..."

    Remembering Christmas by Louise George

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    Dumas, Texas  welcome sign
    Dumas welcome sign

    Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/
    Dumas water tower and statue, Texas
    Water tower and statue in Dumas

    Photo courtesy James Feagin, 2001
    Dumas Tourist Information

    Dumas and Moore County Chamber of Commerce: 806-935-2123
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    Dumas Texas Forum
  • Subject: Refinery Fire
    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 01, 2006

  • Subject: 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 Fire Departments.

    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
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