When Lyne Barret brought in the first well in 1866 near Nacogdoches, photography was in its adolescence, so the entire history of the Texas petroleum industry fortunately was documented by the camera. Although that well amounted to very little, thirty years later Corsicana proved the commercial success of Texas oil, and when Spindletop roared in on January 10, 1901, a new era began for Texas and the entire petroleum industry.
Other fields opened—Saratoga, Sour Lake, Batson, Humble, Electra, Burkburnett, Goose Creek, Ranger, Desdemona, Breckenridge, Mexia, Big Lake, the Permian Basin, Borger, and the incomparable East Texas field—and camera men were there to capture the excitement of discovery and the changes brought by oil. Unforgettable photographs of oil-field folk—drillers, roustabouts, tool dressers, tycoons—of the bustling boom towns and the derrick-crowded fields, dramatically portray the people and how they lived and worked. Recorded too are primitive refineries, oil tankers under sail and steam, pipeline crews, and the “modern” transportation and retailing facilities of the 1930s.
Walter Rundell’s text provides the historical setting for the photographs, focusing always on the human element. This combination of pictures and text presents a vivid social history of early Texas oil and its tremendous impact on Texas and its people.
Published by Texas A&M University Press