Sanford, Texas, located just south of the Canadian River in southwestern Hutchinson County, got its start in 1927 when the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway extended its line from Amarillo, Texas to Liberal, Kansas.
The town was named for James M. Sanford, on whose ranchland it was established. It was soon populated with oil boomers and oil company employees. During its first year the Acme Lumber Yard was built on one end of Main Street, and at the other end, stood a two-story brick hotel owned by Phil Hall. A cafe was established by Moon Mullins and the post office opened on August 23, 1927, with Jas. B Michener as the first postmaster. On June 15, 1927, the Hutchinson County Board of Trustees created the Sanford School District, which would develop into a full 11-grade system, continuing to operate as such until 1935.
As many of the first oil boomers moved on to other areas, the first businesses established in the community, including the lumber yard, hotel, and cafe failed. However, Sanford continued on to become a stable petroleum town and new businesses were established. In 1933 the Natural Gas Pipeline Company built what was then the largest compressor station in the world beside the railroad tracks seven miles southwest of Sanford. With further development of the Panhandle oil and gas field also came the construction of three carbon black plants and two gasoline refineries near Sanford. In 1936, Sanford high school students were sent to Borger, and shortly thereafter, to Phillips.
In 1935 brothers, Clyde and Duane Page opened a grocery store in Sanford and in 1938, Clyde became the postmaster, a position he held until 1945 when he moved his family to Dumas. John T. and Wilma Fisher owned and operated Fisher’s Service Station from 1938 until 1952. The station was located at the east end of Sanford and was a popular gathering place for the locals. In 1940 Sanford had five businesses and a population of sixty.
The carbon black plants were phased out by 1953 and in 1961 the Sanford school district merged with that of Fritch. Just a short time later; however, the Sanford Dam and Lake Meredith were created, bringing growth to Sanford. By 1980, the town had a number of small businesses, many catering to lake visitors, and a population of about 250 people.
Unfortunately, the drought of the last several decades not only caused Lake Meredith’s water levels to fall to all-time lows but, but also resulted in the closing of most of Sanford’s businesses. Its area population today is just about 150 today.
©Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated May 2019.