History of Longview, Texas

The development of Longview dates back to 1870 during the construction of Southern Pacific railroad. Initially, the hilly area consisted of small farms and large plantations. Of interest is one plantation owner known as Ossamus Hitch Methvin, Sr. whose actions significantly shaped the history of Longview. At the time, Methvin sold 100 acres of his land to the railroad company in the hope that it would persuade the builders to build their line in the direction of his land. He figured this would greatly increase the value of his remaining land.

Reportedly, the view of the area from atop Capp’s hill was so impressive that the surveyors would witness it and declare “what a long view it is from here!” This gave the place its current name, Longview. The presence of railroads brought hundreds of settlers into the area. Owing to financial constraints, further construction of the line beyond Longview was delayed and for this reason, the area became the western terminus of the railroad. With this, a regional trading center emerged, and some settlements emerged around the terminal. A post office was established in 1871 to facilitate communication.

With the influx of settlers, there arose the need for a government. In 1873, a meeting of Texas Board of Commissioners was held, and they agreed to form a new county in which to incorporate Longview. They named it Gregg County, after a deceased general who fought in the Civil War. More facilities were constructed such as churches, sawmills, schools, a bank, a cotton gin, and an opera house among others. The Longview population continued to grow rapidly and by 1910 it had risen to 5155 people.

Since its establishment, Longview has had a fair share of misfortunes. In 1877 for example, there was a devastating fire that destroyed the Northern side of the area where most businesses were located, so the commercial center was ruined. Within the same period, there was an outbreak of a smallpox epidemic, and this slowed economic growth. In 1919, there were racial tensions between Blacks and Whites which erupted into violence following the World War 1. During the riots, residences and businesses were torched, and an African-American man was killed. Just as residents were recovering from the effects of the 1919 riots, railroads were moved from Longview to Mineola, denying many people a source of income.

Despite the above challenges, Longview was able to develop even further. In 1942, the Big Inch Pipeline project was constructed. The pipeline transported crude oil to the East Coast. The project lowered unemployment levels in Longview and brought an even greater influx of people. By the 1950s, the population of Longview had grown to 24,502 people.

Today, the city of Longview is the county seat of Greg county. A small part of the city extends to Harrison County, which neighbors it to the west. It is well organized, with various departments responsible for providing specific utilities. Some of the major sectors of Longview economy today include East Texas Oil Field, manufacturing, and real estate. It boasts of libraries, schools, and higher institutions of learning. Multicultural events are held to encourage interactions between the different ethnic groups.