Alice, Texas 2024

alice,TexasAlice is a city in and the county seat of Jim Wells County, Texas, United States, in the state's South Texas region. It is located off Interstate 37, sixty miles (97 km) south of San Antonio and 125 miles (201 km) north of the Mexican border. As of the 2020 US Census, the population was 19,228.

Alice, Texas, known as the "Gateway to South Texas," is associated with oil, agriculture, and cattle raising. It traces its origin to 1888 with the discovery of the first oil well in the area and the extension of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway.

In 1948, and again in 1961, Alice had two "boom" years, the first was when gas was discovered in the area; the second was when George H. W. Bush and Zapata Off-Shore Company drilled the world's first offshore oil well, located 18 miles off Alice's coast in the Gulf of Mexico. This well, using jet drilling technology, was nicknamed "Old Moses," because, like the biblical character, its drillers found success as great as the Red Sea parted.

In 1961, the Zapata Off-Shore Company started drilling the first offshore well in the Gulf of Mexico from a site on Padre Island. The following year, 20 leases were sold offshore, and the old Post Office building in Alice was remodeled to accommodate the Union Production Company. Another oil company, with offices in Alice, Conoco, built the first offshore drilling rig in the world. By the mid-1960s, 200 offshore wells had been drilled. But when a magazine described Alice as "the richest little town in America," citizens thereupon adopted the slogan, "Where the Best of Texas Begins," which appears on welcome signs at the city's entrance. By 1969, Alice was producing 11% of the nation's and 2% of the world's oil supply. In 1980 it was only producing 5%. In 1970, industrial analysts estimated that 90% of Alice's industrial payrolls came from oil, gas, or well drilling.

Alice became an area recreation center. The city organized its first annual Outdoor Exposition (a "Feed the Children" benefit) in January 1970. Three thousand people attended. The event was held annually through 1984, raising over $560,000 for the Jim Wells County Food Pantry. Other festivals in Alice include the annual Poco Dulce Festival in October and a Christmas celebration in December. Another attraction is the Alice Improvement Corporation's Outdoor Recreational Vehicle Park. The city has three lakes, with hunting, fishing, and boat rentals for water recreation. Oil and gas production continue, but ranching and agriculture still contribute to the town's economy.

Today, many people come to Alice each year on their way to hunting leases in the south part of the state or to the Alice Recreation RV Park on Lake Findley, east of town.

In the 1960s, the town became known as the "Stinking Water City" because of the oil boom and the large amounts of natural gas flares burning at the city's edge. The gas, associated with oil, had no market, was considered worthless, and was flared off. This scenario changed in 1962, when the town was producing 33% of Texas' marketable natural gas, and the flares burned 24 hours a day.

The town's major employers include the Alice Independent School District, the City of Alice, Christus Spohn Hospital, Duval County Electric Cooperative, and various oilfield services companies.

In 1976, Alice became home to Coastal Bend Community College. Three years later, the San Diego-based NHI-Alice Corporation obtained an exclusive government contract for the development of a gas turbine engine. The resulting 1980 creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) industrial park at Alice's Mercedes Industrial Park led to the establishment of several factories (such as Shaw’s Tex-Mex Furniture) that employed between 1,400 and 2,000 area residents. In the 1990s, various foreign factories opened in Alice's trade zone employing several hundred people. In July 1997, a group of investors bought the NAFTA industrial park, and by 1998, it had sold out 60% of the facility to 11 businesses. The park produced leather, crystal, and molded fiberglass products. The oil market crash that year finished development of the site.

Some 60 years since its incorporation, Alice is still known as the "Gateway to South Texas" because of its proximity to South Padre Island, the 35 miles of beach between Port Aransas and Port Isabel, as well as the King Ranch (the birthplace of the prized Santa Gertrudis breed of beef cattle). Like Alice, the famous King Ranch (as large as Rhode Island) spans three counties. Those who can afford the fee may bird-watch or hunt at the King Ranch. The ranch contains one of North America's finest birdwatching destinations and is home to some of the best Texas Prisoner-made (Prisoner made means made by convicts) saddles and leather products in the world. As of March 2005, only one surviving specimen of the Santa Gertrudis breed remained.

Alice's motto boasts, "Small town values with big city services."