Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Iraan, Texas

If you’ve ever driven through West Texas on I-10, you’ve probably seen exit signs for a town named Iraan. And you’ve probably wondered if there were any kind of connection with that other Iran (different spelling). I remember hearing the story from my father about how the town acquired its name. It’s an old oil town and he was knowledgeable about such places as he was in the business.

I had forgotten about that place for a number of years until I recently came across Ozona Country, by Alan R. Bosworth, Harper & Row, 1964. In a chapter titled Annointed with Fresh Oil, he describes the oil boom that came to Crockett County, where Ozona resides, and made comparisons to other counties and fields in West Texas that were much more prolific. He offered this anecdote about the Yates field in West Texas:
Crockett County was the fourth county in West Texas to produce oil, and it was not one of the major oil counties. Across the Pecos, to the westward, the Yates field was running wild, and people told all kinds of stories about old man Yates, who had just barely managed to make a living off his ranch until the oil wells came. They said he told his wife that now she could just have anything she wanted, and that she said, 'Well, I’ve been needin’ a new ax to cut kindlin’ wood with, for a long time.'
A little town sprang up around that big oilfield and it was named for that rancher and his wife, who could finally get a new ax from all that oil revenue. Their names were Ira and Ann Yates and the town name of Iraan paid tribute to the owners of the land where all that oil was found.

For more about Iraan, Texas and its founding, see the Handbook of Texas Online entry.

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