PENWELL, TEXAS. Penwell, sixteen miles southwest of Odessa in southwestern Ector County, was named for J. H. Penn, a veteran West Texas oil operator, who drilled the discovery well of the Penwell-Jordan oilfield. When Penn's well, the R. R. Penn Kloh-Rumsey No. 1, came in on October 7, 1929, the area began to develop rapidly. The townsite was officially laid out on November 8, 1929, and a post office was established there in 1930. The first residents lived in tents or hastily constructed shacks, but eventually better housing was built. Because many of the early settlers were only temporary residents, accurate population statistics are difficult to ascertain. For example, Penwell's 1930–31 population was given as 230 in one source, but as 3,000 in another. According to one source, during the early 1930s Penwell had six lumberyards, several rooming houses, several filling stations, two or three clothing stores, two hotels, a doctor's office, a drugstore, a barbershop, a pool hall, a dance hall, and a paper, the Penwell News. For a while there was also a school, but later local students were transferred to the Odessa schools. After the 1930s Penwell's population decreased because of a decline in local oil drilling and the movement of workers to larger cities. In 1980 its population was estimated at seventy-five, and the town included a post office, a service station, a welding shop, and a beer store. Some ranches were in the vicinity. In the 1980s the nearby Odessa Raceway Park was operating from May through October. Monahans State Park is just outside of town. In 1990 and again in 2000 the population of Penwell was reported as seventy-four.
Samuel D. Myres, The Permian Basin: Petroleum Empire of the Southwest (2 vols., El Paso: Permian, 1973, 1977).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.China Holley, "PENWELL, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnp16), accessed November 29, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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