For 30 years, the quiet, dusty crossroads of Texas 119 and Texas 72 in Yorktown mostly consisted of a Dairy Queen on one corner, a gas station across the street and some traffic, usually heading somewhere else.
Ranchers joked that it was possible to make a small fortune raising cattle on the mesquite and cactus range — if you started with a very large fortune. Population in rural South Texas grew slowly or not at all during the 2000s.
The shale boom has changed all that throughout an oil-rich swath of counties extending to the Canadian border. Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that counties in South and West Texas are among the fastest-growing places in the U.S. as oil workers rush to work in the Eagle Ford Shale. Since the 2010 Census, Yorktown’s DeWitt County has grown 1.8 percent, more than four times faster than the entire previous decade’s 0.4 percent growth rate.