Site of West Portland
The San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad was built through this area in the late 1880s. In 1908 the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company decided to encourage settlement in the area by giving 14,000 acres in its Picatche pasture to the George H. Paul Company of Iowa to sell. Paul already had established a record of bringing settlers to Texas from other parts of the United States and Canada. The company mounted a gigantic advertising campaign in the midwest, bringing in trainloads of prospective land buyers, most from Kansas, almost weekly. Some bought and leased land to tenant farmers; about twenty families moved into the area.
Within a year, Mexican migrant workers had cleared the land of mesquite brush and farmers began to work the rich black soil. By 1914, a school building served the West Portland School District and the community. In addition to housing academic classes, the schoolhouse served as a community center for meetings, programs, parties, socials, receptions and suppers. Sunday School classes and worship services were held there, as well. Larger buildings were erected as needed, and one old school building was moved across the street to serve as a teacherage.
In 1922, local farmers banded together to form the West Portland Gin Cooperative, which became the heart of the business district. The school was consolidated with the Taft Independent School District in 1939. Farmers sold the gin cooperative in 1970. At the end of the 20th century, the cooperative was still in operation and most of the area land was owned by descendants of the original settlers. (2000)
FM 893 at FM 1074, 7 mi. W of Portland
Source: Texas Historical Commission