Luling is conveniently located in the heart of Texas at the crossroads of US 90 and 183, Texas 80 and 86, and Interstate 10. Less than an hour from San Antonio and Austin, Luling sits at the southern edge of Caldwell County.
Located on the banks of the San Marcos River, about 45 miles south of Austin, Luling has all the elements of the perfect Texan small town—historic buildings, great barbecue, quirky history, viable downtown, lively harvest festival, a noon whistle, vintage stop signs, and eclectic shopping.
A friendly, quiet central Texas community, rich in history and Texas pride, Luling is renowned for its barbecue, rich oil history, decorated pump jacks, fresh produce and plants, abundant watermelons, and Texas’ first inland canoe paddling trail on the San Marcos River.
Entering Luling from Interstate 10, you’ll notice the world’s largest watermelon rising up 154 feet from a melon patch. Never mind that this impressive specimen is made of steel and comprises the tank portion of the town’s water tower. The horizontal green and white stripes combine with the shape of the 56-foot-diameter storage tank, to create a great watermelon effect.
However, there’s more. The center of this rural town lies along railroad tracks where oil field workers first pitched their tents—and freight trains continue to rattle on through.
This is Texas as it used to be!
Old oil pump jacks around town are decorated with quirky plywood paintings of animals and a variety of characters—a cow jumping over the moon, a shark, see saw kids, and a yokel devouring a large slice of watermelon. Most of the wells are still active, sucking up black gold under people’s lawns, in local parks, and near businesses and train tracks.
In 1922, Edgar B. Davis brought in Rafael Rios #1, which proved to be one of the most significant oil fields ever discovered in Texas. Perhaps his greatest legacy was the discovery of the Edwards Lime. It set off vigorous exploration to find the lucrative shallow production. Almost overnight, Luling was transformed from a railroad town of 500 to an oil boom town of 5,000. By 1924, the field was producing 11 million barrels of oil per year.
Over 180 producing wells have been drilled within the city limits alone! Three major oil fields surround the town.
The Walker Bros. Building also houses also houses the Luling Area Chamber of Commerce where you can pick up a map and brochures about the Pump-Jack tour, historic sites, and other attractions.
Also worth a visit is Zedler Mill, a local museum, park, meeting place, and swimming hole that sits right on the San Marcos River. This agricultural treasure was built in 1874 and originally included a sawmill, a grist mill, and a cotton gin. Today the Zedler Mill complex consists of the 1900 Fritz Zedler home and seven other structures on nine acres. It makes for Luling’s best place to picnic, swim, rope swing, and jump into the refreshing river below.
During our annual visits to this central Texan town, we use RiverBend RV Park and Campground as our home base. A Passport America park, RiverBend is a scenic 40-acre park located on the banks of the San Marcos River. With plenty of space to walk the pets and enjoy the beauty of nature, RiverBend RV park offers a relaxing get-away. Also, it’s easy-on, easy-off Interstate 10 at exit 628 (Highway 80). The campground is located on-eighth mile north on Highway 80. Reservations are advised.
While oil still flows in Luling, meats and melons have created a boom of their own. And as long as these delicious resources stay plentiful, we will continue to make our tasty pilgrimage to this Texas-style promised land.
Please Note: This is Part 4 of a 4-Part article
Part 1: Luling: Barbecue Central
Part 2: Luling: Texas Black Gold
Texas Spoken Friendly
More words of wisdom from an Oklahoma Cowboy
Will Rogers was quite the cowboy, with all the wisdom of simple, honest folk. His words still ring with common sense today…
Will Rogers, who died in a 1935 plane crash with his best friend, Wylie Post, was probably the greatest political sage the country ever has known.
Enjoy the following:
10. If you’re riding’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.
11. Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier’n puttin’ it back.
12. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.