Oil pump artwork - Watermelon boy
Embellished oil pump jack in downtown Luling.

Watermelon Thump and Water Tower

Field review by the editors.

Luling, Texas

So just how did the annual Watermelon "Thump" get started in Luling, in summer inferno southeastern Texas?

We imagine the sweltering pre-air conditioning populace cleverly turning the local watermelon crop into personal cooling systems -- refreshing liquid fruit helmets with carved eye- and mouth-holes. On the street, they'd spit watermelon seeds at one another in friendly greeting....

This isn't what happened. But they're pretty strange in Luling. And it's hot.

Watermelon water tower.

Entering town from the interstate, the first thing a visitor will notice is an impressive watermelon water tower, poking up 154 feet from a melon patch (or perhaps just a municipal patch). The horizontal green and light yellow stripes, combined with the shape of the 56 ft. diameter storage tank, creates a good watermelon effect.

The center of this rural town of about 5,000 lies along railroad tracks where oil field workers first pitched their tents. Old oil pump jacks around town have been decorated with goofy plywood paintings of animals and characters -- a cow jumping over the moon, a shark, and a yokel eating a big slice of watermelon. Many of the wells are still active, sucking away on people's lawns, in parks and behind businesses. The Central Texas Oil Patch Museum was created a few years ago to chronicle the boom years in Luling.

In 1954, the principal of the elementary school dreamt up an annual festival to celebrate and promote the local watermelon industry. A naming contest led a high school kid to flash on the brilliant name: Thump*. For over half a century, the town has held the Thump, featuring music and events, a seed spitting competition (ready to break the 70-ft. distance barrier any day now), and an affable competition between growers over who has produced the largest watermelon.

Pump jack art - Cow jumps over the Moon.

The Championship Melon auction is where the farmers roll out their super-sized "black diamond" watermelons -- 50+ lbs., and winners have been known to plump up to over 80 lbs. (as recorded in 1962 by the biggest bruiser in the history of the Thump).

A Watermelon Thump Queen is crowned each year, and rides in the parade. The Watermelon Thump is held the last weekend in June.

* Tipster Tom Stradt explains why you would thump a watermelon: "Basically, you test the ripeness of a melon by flicking the husk with your index finger. If you get a somewhat hollow sound from the melon, it is ripe. Now the earliest local grown watermelons in Texas begin to ripen after the first week in June, so the 'Thump' is a harvest festival of sorts, marking the availability of ripe watermelons."

Also see: Salad of the Gods | Watermelons

Watermelon Thump and Water Tower

Address:
Hwy 183, Luling, TX
Directions:
North of I-10 along US 183.
Hours:
Festival end of June (Call to verify)
Phone:
830-875-3214
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

More Quirky Attractions in Texas

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Texas.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

October 24, 2014

My Sights

Create Your Own Bizarre Road Trips!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Texas Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

San Francisco Dungeon, San Francisco, California (Oct 20-26, 2014)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Nearby Hotels and Motels, Luling, Texas

Nightly rates found:

Book Online Now