a Pecan Shell
The town dates from 1907 when partners purchased the Hughes Ranch.
The 60,000 acre ranch was subdivided into smaller plots and ads were
placed in northern papers to attract farmers. A hotel was built for
prospective buyers and the community was named Hughes, after
the former owner. Farmers from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri,
and Tennessee responded to the hard-to-refuse offer of free acreage
to those buying a farmstead. In two short years, Hughes had a population
of 600. The drilling of a large well for drinking water revealed waters
of a medicinal nature and soon the town was promoting itself as a
In 1908 a post office was applied for and the submitted name was Karlsbad,
after a famed spa in Europe. The K was replaced by the more Anglo-pleasing
C. The town newspaper also took a change of name, switching from the
Hughes Headlight to the Carlsbad Headlight.
The arrival of the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway (just a spur line
Angelo) teased the community into thinking of blue skies and never-ending
horizons, but the region was struck by a three-year drought that drove
Carlsbad’s farmers and businessesmen away.
The population declined to 200 residents served by a single store
and by the mid 1920s there were only 150 residents. The population
grew to 400 by 1932 but as the Great Depression worsened, the town
fell back to 150. In the mid 1940s, Carlsbad had increased its population
to 700 – an all time high.
The McKnight State Sanatorium opened in 1950 to take advantage of
the dry climate. The town population remained at 100 from the early
1950s through 2000.
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