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Liberty Theater, Electra, showing a Mary Pickford movie in 1919.
"Wichita County's Best Kept Secret"
Location of Electra, Texas
|• Total||2.4 sq mi (6.3 km2)|
|• Land||2.4 sq mi (6.3 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||1,220 ft (372 m)|
|• Density||1,200/sq mi (440/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1356894|
Electra is a city in Wichita County, Texas, United States. It is part of the Wichita Falls metropolitan statistical area. The population was 2,791 at the 2010 census., down from 3,168 in 2000. Electra claims the title of Pump Jack Capital of Texas, a title made official by the state in 2001, and has celebrated an annual Pump Jack Festival since 2002. It was named in honor of Electra Waggoner, an heiress to the Waggoner Ranch.
Daniel Waggoner started a ranch in present-day Electra in 1852. Around 30 years later, the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway was built, and its railroad tracks ran through the area. In 1885, Waggoner's son, William Thomas Waggoner, successfully lobbied railroad executives to build a railroad station at the site. By this time, the Waggoner ranch covered a half-million acres. Until this time, the town was called Waggoner, but following the building of the station and a post office in 1889, it was dubbed Beaver Switch, after the nearby Beaver Creek. The opening of 56,000-acre (230 km2) of land north of the railroad station brought more farmers to the area. The town was renamed again in 1907, this time after Waggoner's daughter, Electra Waggoner.
Water can be scarce in this region of Texas, so Waggoner started drilling for water for the town's new residents. Most of these drilling sites were befouled by crude oil, which made the water unfit for drinking. Three years later, a developer from Fort Worth named Solomon Williams bought the land from Waggoner. Sooner thereafter, he annexed nearby land, subdivided the land, and placed advertisements in national media trying to increase the population. His efforts were successful, and the town grew from a population of 500 to 1,000 between 1907 and 1910. The Waggoner family, still today, owns much of the same land they did in the beginning and still drill for oil in those parts.
In 1911, the Electra Independent School District was created.
On April 1, 1911, the Clayco gusher brought in an oil strike. Word spread quickly, and the population increased four-fold over a period of months. Fortunately, some infrastructure was already built in the town to handle the new residents.
Jasper "Jake" Smith, III (born 1935) of Vivian, Louisiana, worked in the summer of 1954 in the oil field of Electra. In his autobiography, Dinner with Mobutu: A Chronicle of My Life and Times, he recalls his experience:
...We were fully integrated into the community of young men of Electra. I discovered that Texans were welcoming to newcomers, and I soon felt right at home.
Anyone who has seen the movie The Last Picture Show or read the book might recognize Electra, Texas. The Larry McMurtry novel was set in this approximate locale at this particular time – 1954. The residents were pretty accurately portrayed in the novel. The main pastime for my cohort group was drinking beer and fighting. Some of the local toughs liked to travel to Wichita Falls to pick fights with airmen from the local Air Force base. I tried to avoid these fisticuffs since it was certain I would get my ass kicked.
Electra was dry and dusty with hardly any big trees. The fields were covered with mesquite bushes, six to eight feet tall covered with two-inch thorns. People outside Texas had not yet discovered that mesquite is a powerful aromatic wood for smoking meat; so this prickly bush was considered a great nuisance, rather than a potential resource. The main assignment for us college boys working in the Electra oil field that year was to cut down mesquite bushes which crowded in on the oil fields. ... We would start whacking away at the mesquite bushes. By the end of the day, most of us were covered with bloody punctures from the sharp thorns. After a few days, these injuries usually became infected, causing one or more of the young roustabouts to visit the company doctor. About midway through the summer, the company decided that this mesquite project was getting to be too risky; so we were given other assignments.
In 1936, Electra had well over 6,000 residents, but by the 1960s, the population had decreased to just over 5,000. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was growing, and many people moved away. By 2000, Electra's population had fallen to about 3,000.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, 3,168 people, 1,279 households, and 860 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,299.0 people per square mile (501.3/km²). The 1,529 housing units averaged 626.9 per mi2 (241.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 87.66% White, 4.58% African American, 1.10% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 4.29% from other races, and 2.30% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 8.68% of the population.
Of the 1,279 households, 32.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.4% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.7% were not families; 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the city, the population was distributed as 27.7% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $24,022, and for a family was $30,116. Males had a median income of $25,610 versus $17,292 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,213. About 17.8% of families and 20.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.3% of those under age 18 and 15.4% of those age 65 or over.
The City of Electra is served by the Electra Independent School District, which is composed of 210 sq mi (540 km2).
The three public schools are: B.M. Dinsmore Elementary School, with 225 students enrolled in prekindergarten through fourth grade; Electra Junior High with 172 students in grades five through eight; and Electra High School with 149 students enrolled in ninth through 12th grades. Electra High School's athletic teams are called the Tigers. The student/teacher ratio at each of the schools is 14:1, 13:1, and 9:1, respectively.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Electra has a humid subtropical climate, Cfa on climate maps.
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