After the Texas and Pacific Railway extended its line to the South Plains of Texas in 1881, the Odessa Land and Townsite Company of Zanesville, Ohio, began promotional efforts to attract settlers to its property along the rail line. Regular excursion trains brought many settlers to the area, including Charles and Lucy White, who came with their family from Indiana and helped transform this area from prairie to city. Their 1887 home serves as a museum today, a reminder of Odessa's early development.
Odessa's first post office opened in 1885. The town was platted the following year and became county seat when Ector County was formally organized in 1891. The first elected county commissioners were M.G. Buchanan, J.W. Driven, James Bolton and J.L. Gray.
Located in the Permian Basin, in the midst of great oil and natural gas reserves, Odessa was a small farming and ranching town until oil was discovered on the W.E. Connell Ranch (16 mi. SW) in 1926. Growth was rapid, and the city was incorporated the following year, with S.R. McKinney as first mayor. By 1930, Odessa was an established oil center and after World War II, it became a major distribution and processing point in the petrochemical industry.
The city of Odessa serves as a vital trading center for this part of Texas and boasts civic, cultural and educational opportunities for citizens and visitors alike. With its roots in cattle and oil, the community is an important reflection of Texas history and heritage.