Oil changed everything for Texas. It transformed the state from a backwoods frontier to an industrial giant. In January 1901, a gusher blew in at Spindletop near Beaumont, and the Texas oil boom erupted into the nation’s conscience. Thirty years later, an even more significant event occurred—the discovery of the enormous East Texas Oil Field. Within two years, 5,600 wells were drilled near the cities of Kilgore and Longview, and 25,000 wells were in place by 1938.
Oil became the basis for Texas’s mammoth petrochemical industry and provided the funding to develop the state’s educational and highway systems. On the flip side, a massive drop in oil prices in the early 1980s resulted in a decline in Texas’s economy.
Regardless, oil and natural gas remain the state’s most valuable minerals, contributing nearly 20 percent of the country’s oil production and 30 percent of its gas production in recent years. Texas leads all other states in oil and natural gas production. It also ranks first in oil-refining capacity.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition