Luling (population 5,080) was founded in 1874 as a railroad town and, for its first 50 years, functioned principally as a shipping center for cattle and agricultural goods. This changed dramatically in 1922, when one of the most significant oil fields in the Southwest was discovered nearby.
Although the initial oil boom is past, there are still over 180 oil wells within the city limits alone. Many of the pump jacks are whimsically decorated, adding a unique flavor to the historic downtown.
Celebrating the importance of oil to the area's history, the Central Texas Oil Patch Museum is located in the historic Walker Brothers Building (1885), which also houses the Chamber of Commerce's Visitor Center, the City Economic Development Office, and the Main Street Program office.
Luling's newest revitalization initiative is preservation of Zedler's Mill (1874). Originally established as a gristmill and sawmill on the San Marcos River, the complex later provided water and power to the community. Unused since the 1960s, the mill has been acquired by the city, and planning is underway to develop the property as a community center and riverfront park.
Designated a Preserve America Community in August 2004.