Located in North Central Texas is a small community called Big Lake. When approaching this town in Reagan County, one might be expecting to see a shimmering body of water. Sometimes, that is exactly what you would see. However, the majority of the time, searching for a lake in Big Lake, Texas is actually a wild goose chase.
Although it began in the late 1880s as a minor ranching community, the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway passing through in 1912 gave it life. This expansion, plus the discovery of the Santa Rita well in 1923, led to growth. The US 67 highway ensured travelers meet it along their way and meant survival for the town. Oil remains essential here.
Photo: @joshuab_photog via Twenty20
But where does the name originate? Big Lake gets its name from a dry lake, but one which is unlike most lakes. This geographic feature is part of the dryland plains and is situated atop the divide between the two watersheds of the Rio Grande and Colorado Rivers. The dry lake has no outlet and is over 1,280 acres in size. This is the largest in the Lone Star state. Water does hold in the bed for short periods of time and only after high-runoff rain happenings. When dry, it is used for livestock grazing. It’s also known as a “big playa lake,” and use of this land dates back to prehistoric times for both humans and animals.
Big Lake has a population was 2,936 and is the county seat. Plan a visit after studying meteorology charts to see the disappearing lake. Other highlights of the area include The Hickman Museum, open by appointment, and Sugar Creek Grill for lunch. Fuel up on a grilled cheese brisket sandwich, then hop over to nearby Rankin for the Rankin Museum, inside one of the region’s first fireproof hotels which maintains ten guest rooms open for visitors.