Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bullock Texas Museum Tour

This was the first time I visited Bullock Texas History Museum even though I have been in UT for three years. The museum tells the story of Texas, right upon entering, the mosaic floor portrayed the landscapes and Native Indians with vivid colors that capture everyone’s attention.

My understanding of Texas is limited because I have only been here five years. I was impressed and enlightened by this Bullock Texas Museum tour. The third floor depicted how Texas became the land of opportunity by showing Texas ranching, oil discoveries, and aircrafts. I knew Texas was interrelated with oil and was the place for energy related job opportunities, but I did not know the history of cities was related to oil as well. I learned Houston’s boom was built on the business of oil immediately after the discovery of Spindletop, where Houston was swamped with oilman and speculators and became one of the top cities in the nation. I learned towns like Burkburnett, Wichita Falls, and Ranger doubled or tripled overnight upon oil discovery. It was also informative to know that between 1900 to 1950, jobs shifted from agriculture to manufacturing (from 90% agriculture and 10% manufacturing to 40% agriculture and 60% manufacturing). Texas also shifted from a mostly rural state to an urban state and became the leader in producing crude oil in the world.

Spindletop, located near Houston, was found by Higgins and Lucas. The oil embedded under Spindletop was determined by the smell of sulfur, signs of surface gas, and the large mound (salt dome) appearing on the ground back in the 1900s. New equipment such as cone-shaped revolving cutters with steel teeth was invented to drill oil in Texas since the standard tool did not work well. Drillers also learned to adapt a cap over the flowing oil which they called it “Christmas Tree,” the valve fittings that controls the flow. Wildcatter, risk taker using their own money to find oil, were everywhere in Texas, towns and cities were built, wealth were brought to Texas. World War II also helped Texas the oil industry to be the forefront. Texas not only “re-invents” the new oil industry, but they were transformed into the leading state in the nation.

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