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Luling, Texas
Entrance to Luling City Hall
Entrance to Luling City Hall
Location of Luling, Texas
Location of Luling, Texas
Location of Luling, Texas
Country United StatesUnited States
State TexasTexas
Counties Caldwell, Guadalupe
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 5.5 sq mi (14.2 km2)
 • Land 5.4 sq mi (14.1 km2)
 • Water 0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)
410 ft (125 m)
 • Total 5,411
 • Density 991/sq mi (382.8/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 830
FIPS code 48-45096
GNIS feature ID 1340735

Luling is a city in Caldwell and Guadalupe counties, Texas, United States, along the San Marcos River. The population, as of the 2010 census, was 5,411, and the population was estimated at 5,764 in 2015. The town was named after a New York banker, Charles Luling. He was a personal friend of Thomas Wentworth Pierce, and provided the financing for the railroad as well the purchase of the land that became Luling. The Caldwell County portion of Luling is part of the Austin metropolitan area.


Luling was founded in 1874 as a railroad town and became a rowdy center for the cattle drivers on the Chisholm Trail. Contempt of the law by the cowboys helped Luling become known as the "toughest town in Texas". After the great cattle drives ended in the late 1880s, Luling quieted down to a town of about 500 and cotton ruled the local economy. Perhaps due to arrival of immigrants, including some Jews, in the late-19th century, Luling began a long, slow, period of growth, and by 1925 the population reached 1,500.

One of the most significant events in Luling's history was the discovery of oil by Edgar B. Davis. Davis mortgaged everything he owned to finance drilling operations around Luling. On August 9, 1922, the Rafael Rios No. 1 well struck oil at 2,161 feet (659 m), producing 150 barrels per day (24 m3/d). To repay his loans, Davis contracted 2 million barrels (320,000 m3) each to Atlantic Oil and Magnolia Oil at $.50 a barrel, plus another 2 million barrels (320,000 m3) to Magnolia at $.75 per barrel.

Davis' discovery opened up an oilfield 12 miles (19 km) long and 2 miles (3 km) wide. The economy quickly moved from the railroad and agriculture to oil. The population of the town rapidly increased to over 5,000. By 1924, the Luling Oil Field was producing over 15 million barrels (2,400,000 m3) of oil per year, and oil formed much of Luling's economy for the next 60 years.

As oil grew in importance in the 1930s and 1940s, the railroads that helped form the town declined and largely pulled out of Luling.


Luling is located in southern Caldwell County, 47 miles (76 km) south of Austin. The city limits extend south along Texas State Highway 80 across the San Marcos River into Guadalupe County, reaching as far as Interstate 10 Exit 628. Via I-10, San Antonio is 57 miles (92 km) to the west and Houston is 141 miles (227 km) to the east.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Luling has a total area of 5.50 square miles (14.2 km2). 5.46 square miles (14.1 km2) of it is land, and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2), or 0.67%, is water.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Luling has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,114
1890 1,792 60.9%
1900 1,349 −24.7%
1910 1,404 4.1%
1920 1,502 7.0%
1930 5,970 297.5%
1940 4,437 −25.7%
1950 4,297 −3.2%
1960 4,412 2.7%
1970 4,719 7.0%
1980 5,039 6.8%
1990 4,661 −7.5%
2000 5,080 9.0%
2010 5,411 6.5%
Est. 2015 5,764 6.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
Luling, TX Oil Museum IMG 8193
The Luling Oil Museum, based on the 1922 petroleum discovery, is housed in the Chamber of Commerce office.
William Johnson Cabin, Luling, TX IMG 8201
William Johnson shotgun-style cabin in Blanche Square in Luling
Stanley Theatre in Luling, TX IMG 8192
Though it once aired regular films, the Stanley Theatre in Luling now houses collectibles.
Luling pump jack
One of Luling's many decorative pumpjacks

As of the 2010 census, there were 5,411 people, 1,907 households, and 1,315 families residing in Luling. The population density was 991.6 people per square mile (382.8/km²). There were 2,115 housing units at an average density of 391.7/sq mi (150.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 70.8% White, 8.5% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 16.7% some other race, and 3.1% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 52.6% of the population.

There were 1,907 households, out of which 37.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.4% were headed by married couples living together, 17.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 26.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.2% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75, and the average family size was 3.36.

In the city, 27.3% of the population were under the age of 18, 6.3% were from 20 to 24, 24.6% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.1 males.

For the period 2011-2015, the estimated median annual income for a household in the city was $39,157, and the median income for a family was $46,379. The per capita income for the city was $21,927. About 17.2% of families and 20.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.3% of those under age 18 and 14.5% of those age 65 or over.

Cultural events

The Luling Watermelon Thump is held each year during the last full weekend in June. It is a big celebration for the locals and draws many people from out of town as well. A favorite activity associated with the 'Thump' is the watermelon seed spitting contest.

Luling is also home to Night In Old Luling, held in October. It features games, food, booths, and a scarecrow contest.

Some of the oil jacks along the main streets of Luling are decorated with whimsical characters, such as a girl eating a watermelon.

The Luling Dry Tri. is an annual event held in September. It is an athletic contest comprising three consecutive events: biking 12 miles, running 3.23 miles and paddling 6 miles. A no swim triathlon (Dry Tri) where anyone may participate either solo, as a two-person tag-team or three-person relay team. The event benefits several local groups, including the Luling Police and Fire Departments, and the Luling High School Cross Country Team.

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