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Texas Plains Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

O'Donnell


LYNN-DAWSON COUNTY LINE

The city of O’Donnell, located along the border between Lynn and Dawson Counties (but “mostly in Lynn County”, according to some locals), was founded in 1909 by a coalition of railroad promoters including T. J. and A. F. O’Donnell,  brothers acting on behalf of the Pecos & Northern Texas Railway. The railway, part of the Santa Fe Line that ran sixty miles between the towns of Slaton and Lamesa, needed communities to serve along the route, thus O’Donnell was organized in 1910, providing basic civic amenities like a hotel and a post office. Free lots were offered to any religious denomination willing to construct a church. By 1923, the town incorporated and had begun to function as an agricultural center, depending less on the railroad freight traffic. In 1961, O’Donnell was home to the largest cotton gin in the world at the time, ginning a record twenty-one thousand bales of cotton for the year.

The O’Donnell Heritage Museum encapsulates the region’s history within a former bank building and Texas Historic Landmark built in 1925. In addition to exhibits on early O’Donnell and Lynn County life, the museum houses an entire room dedicated to the late actor Dan Blocker, a resident of O’Donnell for several years when his father operated the O’Donnell general store. Blocker played the character “Hoss Cartwright” on the television show “Bonanza” for thirteen years until his untimely death in 1972. Blocker, also a savvy businessman, started the Bonanza Steakhouse franchise, now a chain of eateries located across the nation.


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