had became a center for area agriculture, as several hundred carloads
of hogs and watermelons were shipped from the rail station annually.
In fact, it became so busy that four telegraph operators were required
to handle the messages of the railroad business.
In 1912, Alfred Rowe, the
town’s founder, left McLean to visit his native
England. Tragically, he would never see McLean again as, upon his
return to the United States, he met his death on the Titanic when the
grand ship sank in the Atlantic in the early morning hours of April
15, 1912. Legend has it that rescuers found him hugging his
briefcase, frozen to death atop an ice floe, with his gold watch still
1927 the town profited from the oil boom, becoming a major shipping point
for area livestock, gas, and oil. And, in the very same year, the
Mother Road arrived in
McLean, further insuring the town’s growth for the next
several decades. During the Golden Age of
McLean boasted 16 service stations, six
motels and numerous cafes.
Oklahoma based Phillips Petroleum Company
built its first
Texas service station in
McLean in 1927. By 1940
McLean had six churches, a newspaper,
fifty-nine businesses, and a population of more than 1,500.
In September of 1942, an area northeast of
chosen to serve as the
Permanent Alien Internment Camp during WWII. During its operation, the
camp boasted twenty to thirty buildings and housed 3,000 prisoners-of-war.
The first prisoners were German troops captured in North Africa, who
arrived in early 1943. A second group of Germans captured in their
Homeland were also retained at the camp. During its time, there were
several escape attempts from the camp, but on the bare plains of the
panhandle there was nowhere to go. All were recaptured and seemed
glad to return to the prison. The camp continued to operate until
July 1, 1945.