News / USA

Signs of Oil Rush Dominate Texas Town

Signs of Oil Boom Dominate Texas Towni
|| 0:00:00
X
April 02, 2013 3:44 PM
The United States is in the midst of another energy production boom and, by 2020, could be producing more oil than global leader Saudi Arabia. One place that knows all about the impact an oil rush can have is the tiny East Texas city of Kilgore. Mike Osborne reports.

Signs of Oil Boom Dominate Texas Town

Mike Osborne
The United States is in the midst of another energy production boom and, by 2020, could be producing more oil than global leader Saudi Arabia.
 
One place that knows all about the impact an oil rush can have is the tiny East Texas city of Kilgore.

More than eight decades after oil was discovered there, pumps are still lifting Texas crude out of the ground. The pumps are everywhere, making their constant thump and rattle impossible to escape.

Kilgore’s been through several cycles of energy boom and bust in the years since. The lessons learned are preserved in the city’s East Texas Oil Museum.

“We were less than 400 in population according to the census of 1930,” said Joe White, the museum’s director. "Literally overnight, after the Crimm well came in on 28 December, 1930, at 22,000 barrels a day, the population swelled to over 10,000 and things have never been the same again.”

In fact, things quickly got out of hand in Kilgore. The Texas Rangers had to be called in to restore order. They had no place to keep prisoners, so a local church building was pressed into service as a temporary jail.

Many of the newcomers ended up living in the town park that first winter. Their makeshift shelters of cardboard and pine branches provided little protection from the weather, and disease spread quickly in the crowded camps.

“[There were] all kinds of respiratory ailments,” White said. “I’m told by the old doctors that it wasn’t unusual to find someone dead down there almost every morning.”

The epicenter of Kilgore’s oil boom was a quarter-hectare of land in the heart of town. So much oil was pumped from this one city block, it came to be known as “The World’s Richest Acre.”

“There were well over 1,000 derricks inside the city limits of Kilgore,” said Bill Woodall, editor of the local newspaper, the Kilgore News Herald. “Literally, the skyline was dominated by derricks. The backs of buildings, they just knocked them off, and that’s what happened here. They knocked off the backs of buildings, and set up derricks and drilled wells.”

All that oil money meant bigger churches, nicer homes, a small college, library and theater seating 900 in town of 10,000. But there were also challenges.

To this day, oil pumps, tanks and pipelines take up so much land that Kilgore has a housing shortage, and the rollercoaster economy makes it hard to build more.

“The last four or five builders that have come in to put in housing additions, four of them went bankrupt. One did it twice,” said Kilgore Mayor R.E. Spradlin III.

Money dries up so quickly in a down cycle, builders get caught holding unsold properties. Spradlin said those highs and lows make it hard for everyone to plan ahead, including city leaders.

“You know, the city’s income goes up and down. In the crash of the mid-1980s, we had to cut people’s pay. We had layoffs,” he said.

Spradlin was born and raised in Kilgore, and said that in spite of the challenges of boomtown life, residents are fiercely proud their roughneck heritage.

“My junior high school song was,‘Neath the towering steel of derricks stands our junior high,’” Spradlin recalled, singing the tune. “So it permeated every single facet of living in Kilgore.”

Kilgore routinely gets calls from other small towns wanting copies of the regulations the city wrote to manage its oil rush.

“All the laws about how close together you drill wells, etcetera, that are used worldwide now, came from mistakes we made in Kilgore by drilling wells every 25 feet,” Spradlin said. “We had oil wells drilled in churchyards, in people’s back yards, school grounds.”

Spradlin tells America’s latest batch of energy boomtowns to keep recurring expenses low and save as much as they can. But the most important lesson of all, he tells them, is to remember that the rush of money can end as quickly as it began.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid