East Texas Oil Museum
1301 S. Henderson Blvd.
Kilgore, TX 75662
Wednesday-Saturday: 10AM – 5PM
Children 3-11yo: $5
Children Under 3: Free
The East Texas Oil Museum is the prototype for all modern oil museums. It’s historic life sized 1930s boom town, working models of oilfield technology, and animated “Elevator Ride to the Center of the Earth” traveling through rock layers to see the source of petroleum set a template that is echoed around the world in oil museums.
History of Kilgore and the East Texas Oil Field
East Texas established itself as an oil hotspot with three notable wells dug in 1930 and 1931. In May 1929, Columbus Marion “Dad” Joiner spuds a hole on the Daisy Bradford farm. A year and a half later, on October 3, 1930, Joiner’s hole is tested and turns out to be a gusher. Nine miles from the Joiner’s discovery, a test well by Bateman Oil on the Lou Della Crim farm comes in with 22,000 barrels a day. With the finality that only comes with a third big discovery, the East Texas Oil Boom was well and truly on after January 26, 1931 when a 3,587-foot well by J.K Lathrop produced 18,000 barrels a day .
Wildcatters, roughnecks, lease hounds, oil speculators, and camp followers flooded East Texas. One-hundred wells were drilled a day, searching for new, rich access points to what geologists would identify as notable “pinched out” feature of the Woodbine formation. The result yielded over a million barrels a day. Prices dove from $1.10 a barrel to 15-cents and the oil just kept coming.
Of the 6 billion barrels of oil that have been produced from the East Texas Oil field, a fraction even made its way to the Allies fighting WWII. This limited resource in war time was a valuable asset, giving Allies an edge in concluding the war.
Domestically, it brought wealth to East Texas and fundamentally shaped the communal and cultural landscape of the region. Today, the East Texas Oil Museum celebrates the bravery, determination, and hard work of the men who realized the potential of this region. As a stained glass window affirms in the entry to the museum, the collection is dedicated to H. L. Hunt, Joiner, and Lloyd “the men who discovered and developed the East Texas oil fields.”
Visiting the East Texas Oil Museum
The East Texas Oil Museum is rich with historic artifacts, engaging dioramas, and educational displays that lay out a the oil extraction process, history of East Texas oil production, and life in the oil fields. The collection includes gems like a working scale model of a drilling rig built in 1930 and a still dripping core sample. For those who would prefer to listen rather than read, there is even an audio tour. Dive into the history of the East Texas oil fields and a boom that defined the region.