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)

Image description
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 that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


Another 1,372 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Harris County over the Sept. 19-20 weekend along with 48 deaths caused by the virus. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Texas Medical Center positivity rate under 5% for two straight weeks

A low positivity rate is one of three metrics medical center officials are tracking that they say may indicate a declining spread of the virus.

Free COVID-19 testing will be available to festival staff, participants and patrons every weekend of the festival this fall. (Courtesy Steven David Photography)
Free COVID-19 testing at Texas Renaissance Festival and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Free COVID-19 testing will be available to festival staff, participants and patrons every weekend of the festival this fall. (Courtesy Steven David Photography)
Texas Renaissance Festival to offer free COVID-19 rapid testing throughout season

Additionally, a free drive-thru testing site will be set up in Todd Mission on Sept. 19.

Montgomery County will now include antigen cases in its total case counts. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Montgomery County to begin including antigen positive cases in COVID-19 daily reports

Antigen cases will now be included in total case counts. However, a breakdown of antigen versus PCR cases will be available.

Amazon 4-star's in-store offerings include books, games, electronics and home products. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon launches 4-star retail store at The Woodlands Mall

The tech company's physical location is stocked with highly rated products from its digital storefront.

Commercial data: Retail, office and industrial vacancies increase in The Woodlands area in August

See how vacancies and rental rates change from month to month in retail, office and industrial sectors in The Woodlands area.

Dr. Sam Rolon is a physician for Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group Creekside Family Medicine in The Woodlands. (Courtesy St. Luke's Health)
Q&A: St. Luke's physician shares advice on flu season, vaccine and prevention

The influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly all patients of all ages ahead of this year's flu season, Dr. Sam Rolon said.

student in mask
TEA launches statewide COVID-19 dashboard for public schools

The Texas Education Agency, in collaboration with the Texas Department of State Health Services, has launched its latest COVID-19 dashboard for positive cases in Texas public schools.

The Houston Food Bank is looking for more volunteers as it handles increased food distribution during COVID-19. (Courtesy Houston Food Bank)
Houston Food Bank: COVID-19 pandemic amplifies already-high food insecurity rates across region

Before COVID-19, the Houston Food Bank distributed about 400,000 pounds of food daily. That number has since increased to about 1 million pounds a day.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Sept. 17 that data from Texas' 22 hospital regions will dictate when certain businesses can reopen at 75% capacity. (Screenshot of Sept. 17 press conference)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: Retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, gyms can reopen at 75% capacity as early as Sept. 21

Nursing home and long-term care facilities will also be allowed to reopen for visitation as early as Sept. 24.

Entergy announces system updates, improvements through 2020 following widespread power outages

A total of 136,552 outages were reported in Montgomery County last month after Hurricane Laura affected the overall grid.