Luling is a city in Caldwell and Guadalupe counties, Texas, United States, along the San Marcos River. The population, as of the 2010 census, is 5,411. The town of Luling was named after a New York banker, Charles Luling. He was a personal friend of Thomas Wentworth Pierce, and provided the financing for the railroad as well the purchase of the land that became Luling. (Reference>Caldwell County, Texas deeds. Reference article Galveston Newspaper article 1874.) Along with the rest of Caldwell County, Luling is part of the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Entrance to Luling City Hall
Location of Luling, Texas
|Coordinates: 29°40′50″N 97°38′44″W|
Luling was founded in 1874 as a railroad town and became a rowdy center for the cattle drivers on the Chisholm Trail. Contempt of the law by the cowboys helped Luling become known as the "toughest town in Texas." After the great cattle drives ended in the late 1880s, Luling quieted down to a town of about 500 and cotton ruled the local economy. Perhaps due to arrival of immigrants, including some Jews, in the late-19th century, Luling began a long, slow, period of growth and by 1925 the population reached 1,500.
One of the most significant events in Luling's history was the discovery of oil by Edgar B. Davis.Davis mortgaged everything he owned to finance drilling operations around Luling. On August 9, 1922, The Rafael Rios No. 1 well struck oil at 2,161 feet (659 m), producing 150 barrels per day (24 m3/d). To repay his loans, Davis contracted 2 million barrels (320,000 m3) each to Atlantic Oil, and Magnolia Oil at $.50 a barrel, plus another 2 million barrels (320,000 m3) to Magnolia at $.75 per barrel.
Davis' discovery opened up an oilfield 12 miles (19 km) long and 2 miles (3.2 km) wide. The economy quickly moved from the railroad and agriculture to oil. The population of the town rapidly increased to over 5000. By 1924, the Luling Oil Field was producing over 15 million barrels (2,400,000 m3) of oil per year, and oil formed much of Luling's economy for the next 60 years.
As oil grew in importance in the 1930s and 1940s, the railroads that helped form the town declined and largely pulled out of Luling.
The Luling Watermelon Thump is held each year during the last full weekend in June. It is a big celebration for the locals and draws many people from out of town as well. A favorite activity associated with the 'Thump' is the watermelon seed spitting contest.
Luling is also home to Night In Old Luling, held in October. It features games, food, booths, and a scarecrow contest.
Some of the oil jacks along the main streets of Luling are decorated with whimsical characters, such as a girl eating a watermelon.
The Luling Dry Tri. is an annual event held in September. It is an athletic contest comprising three consecutive events: biking 12 miles, running 3.23 miles and paddling 6 miles. A no swim triathlon (Dry Tri) where anyone may participate either solo, as a two-person tag-team or three-person relay team. The event benefits several local groups, including the Luling Police and Fire Departments, and the Luling High School Cross Country Team.