The history behind The Woodlands: A look at south Montgomery County across the decades

George Mitchell is the founder of The Woodlands. (Courtesy George's Coffee Club)
George Mitchell is the founder of The Woodlands. (Courtesy George's Coffee Club)

George Mitchell is the founder of The Woodlands. (Courtesy George's Coffee Club)

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The Heritage Museum of Montgomery County is located on Candy Cane Lane in Conroe. (Courtesy Heritage Museum of Montgomery County)
The history of the villages in The Woodlands and the neighboring cities of Shenandoah and Oak Ridge North can only be traced back about five decades, but the formation of these communities took place on land that has seen wilderness transformed into lumber mills, railroads and, finally, into residential areas in the past century.

A series of events

South Montgomery County communities developed in the 1970s.


Mitchell Energy and Development Corp. purchases 50,000 acres of forested land north and west of Houston from the Grogan-Cochran Lumber Co.


The first public school in The Woodlands, Lamar Elementary School, opens.


The Woodlands formally opens Oct. 19 with the village of Grogan’s Mill.


The city of Shenandoah is incorporated west of I-45.


McCullough High School opens.


Oak Ridge North is incorporated as a city at the same time I-45 is completed.


The Woodlands Hospital opens, and the excavation of Lake Woodlands is completed.


Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion opens, providing an outdoor space for entertainment and live music.


The boundaries of Magnolia and Conroe ISDs are realigned, which, at the time, brings all of The Woodlands into Conroe ISD.


The Woodlands Mall opens in Town Center.

Traveling through time

1. The Houston Advanced Research Center was established in 1982 as a technology incubator in line with the vision of The Woodlands founder George Mitchell. Since 2001, it has focused its mission on researching sustainable development.

2. Lake Woodlands, a 200-acre freshwater lake, was excavated in 1984 and 1985. It is also the home of the Midgard Serpent statue, one of several pieces of public art in the township.

3. Oak Ridge North, incorporated in 1979, began with the Pines Corp.’s purchase of a tract of land two miles north of Spring Creek. Development started with construction of a subdivision around the same time I-45 was completed.

4. Tamina’s Sweet Rest Cemetery has been dormant and inaccessible due to standing water for more than 10 years, but the site includes graves dating back to 1871. Tamina was settled by freed slaves who helped to build the railroad that runs through the region.

5. W. G. Jones State Forest consists of 1,725 acres along FM 1488, purchased by Texas in 1926. The forest is named for the founder of the Texas Forestry Association, W. Goodrich Jones.

History on display

The Heritage Museum of Montgomery County includes information, programs, research materials and tours for the public. Candy Cane Park, 1506 I-45 N., Conroe. 936-539-6873.

Pioneers of the past

Entrepreneur George Mitchell, founder of Mitchell Energy and Development Corp., founded The Woodlands in 1974 with the goal of creating a sustainable master-planned community. His philanthropic efforts in the area can be seen in landmarks after named him, such as a library and nature preserve.

This article ran in the January 2020 edition of The Woodlands. Read the full e-edition here.
By Vanessa Holt

A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of the paper in March 2017.


Howard Hughes Corp. acquired the two towers owned by Occidental Petroleum Corp. in 2019. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Occidental CEO tells Woodlands EDP at luncheon it will keep local presence

Occidental Petroleum Corp. CEO Vicki Hollub told the Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership at a Jan. 10 luncheon the company intends to keep a presence in The Woodlands

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, speaks to students at Covenant Christian School. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady and others celebrate Covenant Christian School's FEMA grant

The event saw representatives from the city of Conroe, Montgomery County, the Texas Legislature and more.

Feral hogs, seen here in neighboring Harris County, have been reported as a nuisance in parts of Montgomery County along Spring Creek, including The Woodlands. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Commissioner: Feral hog trapping program to begin in Montgomery County Precinct 3 immediately

Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack announced Jan. 17 he has contracted with a professional wildlife removal company to trap feral hogs in several areas on Spring Creek.

Raveneaux Country Club was one of hundreds of properties that flooded during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. (Courtesy Harris County Flood Control District)
Cagle: Goal of Raveneaux acquisition is not to put an ‘ugly hole in the ground’

“The goal is to create something more along the lines of Kickerillo [Mischer Preserve] with beautiful park amenities—little fishing piers, boat launches and walking trails that go around it,” Cagle said.

wayne gardiner woodlands township board of directors meeting january 15 2020
Officials plan action to address feral hogs plaguing Woodlands neighborhoods

Several dozen residents attended The Woodlands Township board of directors meeting Jan. 15 to voice continuing concerns about feral hogs in the Grogan’s Point neighborhood.

Both cities' candidate filing periods close Feb. 14. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Candidate filing period for May elections begins in Shenandoah, Oak Ridge North

Both cities will have open races for mayor and two city council seats.

The deadline to pay property taxes in Montgomery County is Jan. 31. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County Tax Office to extend hours for property tax deadline

The deadline to pay property taxes in Montgomery County is Jan. 31.

Jonathan Ingram, senior associate with The Novak Consulting Group, presented law enforcement options to The Woodlands Township board of directors Jan. 15. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Woodlands board decides on compromise for incorporation law enforcement scenario

In the last step required before it can determine a maximum tax rate to propose on a ballot for incorporation, The Woodlands Township board of directors decided on a law enforcement model at its Jan. 15 meeting.

(Jen Para/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo concert tickets go on sale Jan. 16

Lower-level seating options are already very limited.

CVS said its new HealthHub concept will open at stores on Kuykendahl Road and FM 1488 this month. (Courtesy CVS Health)
CVS Health debuts new HealthHub concept at 2 south Montgomery County pharmacy stores

CVS announced the launch of 15 HealthHub locations in January, including two in The Woodlands and Tomball.

The freestanding restaurant is under construction at The Woodlands Mall. Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper
Shake Shack coming to The Woodlands Mall this summer

The Woodlands store will be the national burger and milkshake brand's sixth Greater Houston location.

The John Cooper School
Guide: 26 private schools to check out in The Woodlands and south Montgomery County in 2020

Private schools around The Woodlands offer a variety of specialized instruction, from different religious affiliations to various types of curriculum.

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