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Cotulla, Texas
Downtown Cotulla
Downtown Cotulla
Location of Cotulla, Texas
Location of Cotulla, Texas
LaSalle County Cotulla.svg
Country United States
State Texas
County La Salle
 • Total 2.0 sq mi (5.1 km2)
 • Land 2.0 sq mi (5.1 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
427 ft (130 m)
 • Total 3,614
 • Density 1,831.8/sq mi (707.3/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
78001, 78014
Area code(s) 830
FIPS code 48-17216
GNIS feature ID 1333494
Cotulla, TX Historic District sign IMG 7715 1 1 1
Cotulla Historic District sign downtown (erected 2013)

Cotulla ( kə-TEW-lə) is a city in and the county seat of La Salle County, Texas, United States. The population was 3,614 at the 2000 census. The whole of La Salle County had 6,886 persons in the 2010 census. In June 2014, Cotulla "self-declared" its population at 7,000, based on utility connections alone.


Polish immigrant Joseph Cotulla, who was reared in Silesia, then a part of Prussia, migrated to the United States in the 1850s. He joined the Union Army in Brownsville, Texas. He lived in Atascosa County but arrived in La Salle County in 1868 to establish what became a large ranching operation. After learning that the International-Great Northern Railroad intended to lay tracks in La Salle County, he worked to establish the town which bears his name. In 1881, Cotulla donated 120 acres of his land to the railroad, and in 1882, a depot was constructed there. In 1883, the town was granted a post office. The same year, Cotulla became the county seat by special election.

Joseph Cotulla's great-grandson, William Lawrence Cotulla (born c. 1936), a former storekeeper in Cotulla, is a rancher in La Salle, Dimmit, and Webb counties. In a 2013 interview with the Laredo Morning Times, William Cotulla noted the community of his birth has changed completely in less than eighty years, having gone through several phases, beginning with emphasis on farming, then ranching, thereafter hunting leases, and now petroleum and natural gas through the Eagle Ford Shale boom. However, with declining gasoline prices, the Eagle Ford boom took a sharp downturn by the fall of 2015.

On June 28, 2013, the Texas Historical Commission, the United States Department of the Interior, and the National Register of Historic Places designated downtown Cotulla as a significant part of Texas history with the unveiling of an historic marker. In 2006, Cotulla had been designated as a Texas Main Street community.

City manager Lazaro "Larry" Dovalina (born 1947), who formerly held the same position in Laredo, compared the impact of the recent growth of Cotulla to the arrival of the railroad in the late 19th century. Cotulla is believed to have tripled in population since the 2010 census, with possibly 12,000 residents in 2013. With Eagle Ford Shale and many jobs in the oil and gas fields, Cotulla has seen the building of new hotels, restaurants, truck stops, and refineries. Many older buildings downtown are being updated and renovated for other kinds of use. Dovalina reported that the ad valorem property tax base in Cotulla has increased from $52 million in 2009 to $127 million in 2013. The growth has made affordable housing a premium in the community.

In 1973, two railroad locomotives collided in Cotulla, and three people were killed as a result. In 2008, the area about Cotulla burned in a huge grass fire.

With continuing growth from the Eagle Ford Shale deposit, Cotulla houses the largest sand fracking facility in North America. Cotulla falls within the second largest oil-producing region of the United States. The oil boom has increased sales tax collections in Cotulla from $445,000 in 2009 to more than $3 million in 2013. The city has sixteen hotels and seven others under construction. The hotel-motel tax of 7 percent is less than that in larger surrounding cities. Cotulla is seeking to attract Wal-Mart, H-E-B, and other companies once it can show that its growth is sustainable.


Cotulla is located at 28°26′3″N 99°14′11″W / 28.43417°N 99.23639°W / 28.43417; -99.23639 (28.434144, -99.236343). This is 81 miles (147 km) Southwest of San Antonio, Texas.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2), all of it land.

The Nueces River flows through southern Cotulla in a southeastward direction to the Gulf of Mexico near Corpus Christi.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 672
1910 1,880
1920 1,058 −43.7%
1930 3,175 200.1%
1940 3,633 14.4%
1950 4,418 21.6%
1960 3,960 −10.4%
1970 3,415 −13.8%
1980 3,912 14.6%
1990 3,694 −5.6%
2000 3,614 −2.2%
2010 3,603 −0.3%
Est. 2015 4,216 17.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 3,614 people, 1,208 households, and 901 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,831.8 people per square mile (708.3/km²). There were 1,504 housing units at an average density of 762.3 per square mile (294.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.45% White, 0.64% African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.50% Asian, 12.67% from other races, and 2.35% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 83.56% of the population.

There were 1,208 households out of which 39.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.7% were married couples living together, 17.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.4% were non-families. 22.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.95 and the average family size was 3.50.

In the city, the population was spread out with 33.6% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 24.0% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 90.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,250, and the median income for a family was $25,951. Males had a median income of $21,199 versus $17,415 for females. The per capita income for the city was $10,856. About 27.9% of families and 30.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.0% of those under age 18 and 28.1% of those age 65 or over.

Brush Country Museum IMG 0460
The Brush Country Museum in Cotulla preserves regional history.
First United Methodist Church of Cotulla, TX IMG 0461
First United Methodist Church of Cotulla
Revised First Baptist Church of Cotulla, TX IMG 3327
The First Baptist Church of Cotulla was established in the 1880s. The current sanctuary opened in 1948.
Prevailing Word Church, Cotulla, TX IMG 2476
The Prevailing Word Church (non-denominational) in Cotulla

Arts and culture

The Brush Country Museum, with various local ranching memorabilia, is located in Cotulla.


Cotulla has Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, United Methodist, Presbyterian, and non-denominational churches. The Presbyterians and Baptists originally shared the Methodist facilities, which began in 1881. New Methodist buildings were constructed in 1906 and again in 1928.

In 1883-1884, the Reverend W. D. Johnson organized a Baptist fellowship in Cotulla. After several years of meeting at the Methodist Church, the first Baptist building opened in 1889, with the minister John Van Epps Covey (1821–1898) preaching the first sermon in the new structure. The current church sanctuary on Main Street opened in 1948 under the leadership of the Reverend Jesse Cooke. The new First Baptist pastor in Cotulla as of 2013 is Loren G. Fast.

Prevailing Word Church, located in a new sanctuary at 419 South Main, had co-pastors in 2009, L. Lynn Beams and Abram De La Garza. It has services at 3 p.m. Sundays, rather than the customary morning hours, and mid-week services on Thursday evenings, instead of Wednesday.

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