I browsed on Roadside Attractions app on my iPhone and that intrigued me since there was no pictures provided or not a lot of information on World’s Richest Acre in Kilgore so I decided on the spur of the moment to drive there to check off my bucket list. I left Whitehouse to get there. When I saw the derricks, I was in awe of them.
Kilgore’s fortunes changed dramatically on October 3, 1930, when wildcatter, Columbus M. “Dad” Joiner struck oil near the neighboring town of Henderson. This well, known as the Daisy Bradford #3, marked the discovery of the vast East Texas Oil Field. Seemingly overnight Kilgore was transformed from a small farming town on the decline into a bustling boomtown. The Daisy Bradford #3 was subsequently followed by the Lou Della Crim No. 1 and many others. By 1936, the population had increased to more than 12,000, and Kilgore’s skyline was crowded with oil derricks.
More than 1,000 wooden oil derricks — perhaps the most visible evidence of the East Texas oil boom — lined the town’s streets.
picture credit: Exquisitely Bored in Nacogdoches
On part of one downtown block, about 1.2 acres, once stood the greatest concentration of oil wells in the world, producing more than 2.5 million barrels of oil. All but one were dismantled in the early 1960s. The original derrick and 36 new ones, a restored pumpjack, a granite monument to the pioneer oil families of East Texas, and brick walkways make the park a monument to the oil boom of 1930s. A historical marker gives details. One well was drilled through the terrazzo floor of the Kilgore National Bank that once stood on site. The main derrick and several other derricks are capped with lighted stars during the Christmas season, sparking the city’s nickname “City of Stars.”
More than two decades ago, one lone derrick stood on the World’s Richest Acre, the original derrick to its site, preserved and maintained by the Kilgore Improvement and Beautification Association. Now 12 more derricks stand on the one-half city block known as the World’s Richest Acre, adjacent to the railroad depot, including one with a workable pumping unit donated by the Marvin A. Smith family. During the boom, 24 derricks once stood side by side in that area.
What was once a focal point of the oil industry has once again become a focal point of downtown.
You can find the derricks at 100 N. Main and 100 N Commerce St. in Kilgore, Texas