Conroe, county seat of Montgomery County, is a small town that has been engulfed by metropolitan Houston. Conroe began as a stop on the International and Great Northern Railway where Houston lumberman Isaac Conroe located a sawmill in the mid-1880s. Although Montgomery County is just north of Harris County, it lies in a different physiographic sector of Texas, the East Texas Piney Woods, whose rolling landscape was exploited for its long-leaf, shortleaf, and loblolly pine by Conroe and other lumbermen after the Civil War as railroads began to be built north from Houston and Galveston.
Conroe's fortunes waxed and waned with the economic cycles of timber resources and agriculture. In December 1931, Houston oil driller George W. Strake brought in the Conroe oil field, which for a time was the third-largest oil field in the world. Two events that transpired around 1970, completion of I-45 between Houston and Dallas and the construction of Lake Conroe, set the stage for explosive suburban growth around Conroe in the last quarter of the twentieth century.
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