Demand for Farmland
Outside the Valley there had been an increasing demand for farmland, both nationally and in the state, since the 1870's. On the national level, most of the land which could be acquired from the government at little or no cost had been taken by 1900. As railroads pushed their rails into Texas beginning in the 1870's, ranchers who owned land along the railroads sold grazing land to farmers at a tremendous profit. Ranchland which originally had cost as little as twenty-five cents an acre was selling from six dollars to a high of twenty dollars an acre.
On January 10,1901, Anthony F. Lucas (1855-1921) struck oil at Spindletop, triggering a great oil boom and profoundly changing the economy of the state by providing an inexpensive and plentiful source of fuel.
The daily output of the Spindletop field was greater than the rest of the world combined. This tremendous output made practical and economical the use of oil to heat the boilers of factories, ships, trains, and irrigation pumping plants.
When the railroad reached Brownsville in 1904, the locomotives burned Spindletop oil. The strike at Sindletop also coincided with the early production of the internal combustion engine, both gasoline and diesel powered had been worked out in 1876, and the diesel engine invented in 1892.
Engines fueled by petroleum products soon became the engine of choice for irrigation pumping plants.