In August of 1911, Slaton was a lush green prairie land from the heavy spring rains of that year. For the first year of the city’s beginnings the talk of the town was the proposed $75,000 plan to build the Harvey House.
“Does this look like temporary building, oh ‘ye knockers?” the Slaton journal stated on August 10, 1911. “Slaton is destined to become the leading city of this great railroad line,” the article read.
“As may be expected, the locating of the Santa Fe division point at Slaton instigated bitter rivalry between Slaton and Lubbock.” Reverend Lowell C. Green wrote in an article for The Slatonite in 1953.
“The town was taking on the aspects of a well built and orderly little city – bricks were replacing the first wooden affairs,” Vyola Hubbard wrote in Slaton Stories.
As the city grew, so too did the rivalry. A headline in the Lubbock-Avalanche Journal on March 28, 1912 read, “Lubbock is the Railroad Center of this Section.”
“Appended was a map showing various small towns of minor significance,” Green wrote. “Slaton was not even indicated on the map.”
“There was a standing feud between Lubbock and Slaton all the way from politics to football,” Hubbard wrote. “We girls felt like that the boys who dated the Lubbock girls were super traitors, but when the situation went into reverse, somehow there was a difference.”
In June of 1912, Slaton in an “Olive Branch,” gesture by letter sent to citizens of Lubbok, stated, “We, the Commercial Club members and citizens of Slaton, invite you to participate in our celebration and development anniversary of June 14-15 with the view that your city be well represented and that a more binding and friendly feeling be established between Lubbock and Slaton.”
“Across the world, which was far-far away in those days, Europe was blowing itself to bits along with a lot of kings and emperors and rich ruling classes – I seldom thought of it being too recent a student of the American Revolution to care what happened to England,” Hubbard wrote of the first World War. “I remember thinking that Germany would push that little island off the map – and then maybe she would come over and do something about Lubbock – prophesying was never one of my strong points.”
As the area grew, so did opportunity. Various documents and oral histories indicated that Slaton was one of the proposed sites for the largest comprehensive higher education institution in the western two-thirds of the state of Texas. Lubbock eventually won the bid from the State of Texas and Texas Technological College opened its doors in 1925 with an enrollment of 914.
“Texas Tech was supposed to be in Slaton,” longtime Slaton resident, the late, Cecil Scott said in an interview in the Slatonite in 2008. “The people of Lubbock promised to build the university between Slaton and Lubbock so both cities could benefit from it, but that never happened.”
What did happen, however, in 1925, Lubbock High School fell to the Slaton Tigers in the final game of the football season. It was also decided later that school year, that the road to Lubbock would be paved. Prompting various reactions throughout the community.
“I remember also the day my father, who was county commissioner, signed the contract to hard surface the road between Slaton and Lubbock,” Hubbard wrote. “He looked so dejected.”
“I gave Slaton a body blow today,” Hubbard’s father, H.D. Talley, said with a sigh.
“But daddy, that road is for Slaton too,” Hubbard protested.
“You’ll see,” Talley replied.
The road was paved in April of 1927.