Sunday, February 24, 2008
Texas State History Museum: Oil Changed Texas
Before Texas became known for its oil production, Pennsylvania held the title of largest oil producing state in the US. Tides quickly changed with the discovery of Spindletop. Spindletop jump-started the Texas oil boom, at peak production it was said to produce 17.5 barrels annually. Texas soon thereafter produced boomtown after boomtown filled with speculators and those eager to get in on quick oil money. During the early 1900's Texas' population more than doubled, there seemed to be oil everywhere and even more people searching for it. Southern Coastal boomtowns like Corpus Chrisiti and Luling came about, while in North Texas there was Wichita Falls, Eastland, and Ranger. The biggest boom however was in East Texas, where things became so out of control Governor Sterling placed it under martial law, sending the National Guard to restore order. Between 1900-1950 the percentage of the population who lived in rural Texas went from 83% to 40% due to the search for oil. During this time span Texas also went from a farming and agricultural society to one based on oil production. As oil became more popular life for Texans went through drastic changes. Cars became popular, high end shopping such as Nieman Marcus became available, and oil tycoons like Jesse H. Jones and Stephen Hogg began their road to riches. Texas became a leader in oil production by learning to control, transport and retrieve oil. Technology also helped Texas in its quest, as Texas engineers learned how to make drills bigger and better. Oil truly did change Texas forever, and it is one reason that Texas is the state it currently we now know and love.