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“The mission of Ranger College is to transform lives and give students the skills to be a positive influence in their communities.”

Black Gold: A History of Texas Oil Boomtowns

The home of our traveling oil exhibit


Thank you for your interest in Black Gold:  A History of Texas Oil Boomtowns.  We put a lot of effort into using trustworthy sources and providing the most accurate information.  This site contains three lists:

1.  Items used in the exhibit

2.  Image permissions

3.  Acknowledgements

Links to all internet sources have been provided as Wayback Machine links so they are persistent.  For books, we have included the page number, even though that is not strictly Chicago Style.  Journal and newspaper articles have been attached.  Print images are available at Ranger College Library.  No part of this exhibit was created with AI.  Please let us know if there are any problems with the resources or if you have any questions.

Items Used in the Exhibit

About Electra, Texas.  City of Electra.  Wayback Machine.

American Water Works Association.  “Water and Hydraulic Fracturing:  A White Paper from the American Water Works Association.”  American Water Works Association.  2013.  Wayback Machine.

Barrett, Mary L., “Black Americans’ Oil Industry Experiences and Black-Owned Oil Companies, 1903 – 1942,” Oil-Industry History, v. 24, no. 1 (2023): 119 - 148. Page 7

Beard, Jamie C.  “Chapter 15:  Roadmap for Action.”  The Future of Geothermal in Texas:  The Coming Century of Growth & Prosperity in the Lone Star State Executive SummaryWayback Machine.

Boatright, Mody C., and William A. Owens.  Tales from the Derrick Floor:  A People’s History of the Oil Industry.  Garden City, New York:  Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1970.  Page 60, Page 160.

Bowie, Clifford Pinkney. Oil Camp Sanitation. Govt. print. off., 1921.  Page 7.

Champion, Don F. Rumbling in the Earth:  Recollections of a Lifetime in the Oil Patch.  Austin, Texas:  Nortex Press, 1992.  Page 9

Clark, Ira G. Then Came the Railroads:  The Century from Steam to Diesel in the Southwest. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958.  Page 213.

Courtney, David.  “The Texanist:  The Meaning of Texas Tough.”  Texas Monthly.  October 2017.  Wayback Machine.

Davenport, H.M., Jr.  “Corsicana:  Accidental Birthplace of the Oil Industry.  The Story of Texas.  December 1, 2014.  Wayback Machine.

Department of Energy.  Economic Benefits of Oil & Gas.  2020.  Wayback Machine.

“Five Things You Should Know About the Greenhouse Gases Warming the Planet.”  United Nations.  January 8, 2022.  Accessed February 19, 2024.  Wayback Machine.

House, Boyce. Were You in Ranger? Dallas, TX: Tardy Publishing Company, Inc., 1935.  Page IX

Hunt, Lee.  “Well control has come a long way since the days of oil gushers, primitive drilling.”  Drilling Contractor.  November 2, 2009.  Wayback Machine.

Lumber Business Reaches $7,000,000.” Ranger Daily Times, Special West Texas Chamber of Commerce Convention Edition, February 7, 1921.;  “Ranger is Grocery Distributing Point,” Ranger Daily Times, Special West Texas Chamber of Commerce Convention Edition, February 7, 1921.;  “Ranger Reigns as Center of Oil Field Trade Activities,” Ranger Daily Times, September 19, 1920.

“Majestic Theatre and Hotel,” Ranger Daily Times, Special West Texas Chamber of Commerce Convention Edition, February 7, 1921.;   “Baby Doll Dance at Summer Garden Tonight, Ranger Daily Times, April 2, 1920.;  “Supper Dance Summer Garden Tonight, Ranger Daily Times, July 4, 1920.

Mawn, Paul E., Cpt.  “World War I:  The ‘Oily’ Beginning.”  Defense Info.  October 24, 2018.  Accessed February 19, 2024.  Wayback Machine.

Million Barrel Tank.  Ward County Historical Commission, Ward County TexasWayback Machine

Mulder, Brandon.  “Fact-check:  Is the Texas Oil and Gas Industry 35% of the State Economy?”  Austin American-Statesman.  December 22, 2020.  Accessed February 19, 2024.  Wayback Machine.

O’Dell, Larry.  “Simmons, Jake Jr. (1901 – 1981).” Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.  Accessed April 15, 2024.  Wayback Machine.

Olien, Diana Davids and Roger M. Olien.  Life in the Oil Fields.  Austin, Texas:  Texas Monthly Press.  1986.  Page 99.

Olien, Roger M., and Diana Davids Hinton. Oil Booms: Social Change in Five Texas Towns. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982. Page 150.

Palmer, Jerrell Dean and John G. Johnson.  “Big Inch and Little Inch.”  Texas State Historical Association.  June 30, 2023.  Wayback Machine.

“Ranger Gun Club Plans Big Shoots,” Ranger Daily Times, January 8, 1921.;  “Ranger Rodeo Opens Today at Ballpark,” Ranger Daily Times, November 4, 1920.;  “Hagaman Lake Stocked With Fish by State,” Ranger Daily Times, November 23, 1920.

“Ranger Nitros,” Ranger Daily Times, March 16, 1920.

“Ranger Public Schools, Past, Present, Prospective,” Ranger Daily Times, November 14, 1920.

Rundell, Walter,. Jr.  Early Texas Oil:  A Photographic History, 1866 – 1936.  College Station, Texas:  Texas A&M University Press, 1977.  Page 210

Spencer, Jeff.  “Early Texas Oilfield Photographers.” American Association of Petroleum Geologists Search and Discovery.  Article number 70161, July 14, 2014.  

Steinbeck, John.  Travels With Charly In Search of America.  New York:  Viking Penguin (Book of the Month Club).  1995, page 202.

Studdard, George B. Life of the Texas Pacific Coal & Oil Company 1888 - 1963. Fort Worth, 1992.  Page 50.

Texas Historical Commission.  The Petroleum Building Historical Marker Atlas Number 5329004002.  Midland, TX 1982.  Wayback Machine.

The Oil Wars.  Texas State Library and Archives Commission.  August 18, 2011.  Wayback Machine

The Permanent University Fund (PUF).  The University of Texas System. Machine.

United States Energy Information Administration.  “Natural Gas Explained.”  EIA.  November 7, 2022.  Wayback Machine.

Venable, Cecilia Gutierrez.  “Desk and Derrick Clubs.”  Handbook of Texas Online, July 8, 2005.  Wayback Machine.

Webb, Walter Prescott.  “History as High Adventure,” The American Historical Review 64, no. 2 (January 1959): 265–81.

Wells, B.A. and K.L. Wells.  “Ending Oil Gushers - BOP.”  American Oil & Gas Historical Society, February 1, 2010.  Wayback Machine.

Wells, B.A. and K.L. Wells.  “Shooters – A Fracking History.”  American Oil & Gas Historical Society, January 13, 2011.  Wayback Machine.

Wells, B.A. and K.L. Wells.  “Technology and the Conroe Crater.”  American Oil & Gas Historical Society.  June 1, 2005.  Wayback machine.

Wells, B.A. and K.L. Wells.  “ROV – Swimming Socket Wrench.”  American Oil & Gas Historical Society, January 13, 2011.  Wayback Machine.

Wong, Chloe.  “How Do Oil Spills Affect the Environment?”  Earth.Org.  March 14, 2022.  Wayback Machine.

Wooster, Robert and Christine Moor Sanders.  “Spindletop Oilfield.”  Texas State Historical Association.  April 2, 2019.  Wayback Machine.

Image credits


Panel One:  Early Oil Exploration

Spindletop field Spindletop Oil Field, 1901.  CC
Boyce House book cover I Give You Texas 1944 I Give You Texas was one of many Boyce House books on Texas oil booms, 1944.  Naylor Publishing House. Print
Hog Oil certificate Hog Oil Company Stock Certificate, 1919.  Courtesy Duane Hale, Lela Latch Lloyd Museum Print
USS Texas USS Texas, 1919.  CC

Panel Two:  Perceptions and Pastimes

Woman at tent An example of the wood sided tent structure common in oil camps, 1920.  Courtesy Ranger Historical Preservation Society. Print
Ranger Library The Ranger Library as seen in American Library Association advertising, 1919.  Courtesy American Library Association.
Shamrock Park newspaper ad Advertisement for the Ranger amusement park, Shamrock Park, 1921.  Ranger Daily Times. Print
News paper headline collage A collage of newspaper headlines from 1920 giving an indication of the level and types of crimes in the community.  Ranger Daily Times. Print

Panel Three:  Life in an Oil Boom

Mrs. H.H. Adams, geologist Mrs. H. H. Adams using geological equipment, 1919.  Courtesy of the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.
Mule drivers African American mule drivers, c. 1930.  Courtesy Permian Basin Petroleum Museum.
Cover Staking a Claim Staking a Claim, biography of Jake Simmons, Jr., an African American who created an oil empire during the age of booms.  Courtesy Jonathan Greenberg.
Texas flag retro Everything is bigger in Texas, c. 1950.  CC
Joe Roughneck and Oil Derrick picnic table The Joe Roughneck monument is also a time capsule that will be opened in 2056. It is at a Joinerville picnic area on Highway 64 where they have picnic tables sheltered under fake oil derricks, 1956.  CC /web/20240130141733/ and

Panel Four:  People

Flowing Gold Flowing Gold, 1924.  CC
Movie poster Wildcat Wildcat, 1961.  Courtesy Desilu, too, LLC.
Midland Rockhounds Midland Rockhounds, 2022.  Courtesy Midland Rockhounds. Print
Wichita Falls Spudders Cover, 1950 souvenir program.  Credit Wichita Falls Spudders.
Negro League Baseball Ad for Negro League baseball, 1920.  Ranger Daily Times. Print

Panel Five:  Oil Stories from Around the State

Electra derrick image Electra Derrick, 1911.  CC
Goose Creek cyclone damage Goose Creek cyclone damage, 1919.  CC
Big Lake PUF Map of PUF land, 2024.  Courtesy University Lands.
Borger Swinging Bridge Swinging bridge across canyon near Borger, TX August 28, 1926.  CC
Million barrel tank historical marker There are over 600 historical markers in Texas related to oil, 1988.  Courtesy Million Barrel Museum
Million barrel tank  Inside the Million Barrel Tank, 2014.  Created by Carol Highsmith; Courtesy Million Barrel Museum.,-0.127,1.234,0.938,0
Midland Petroleum building Midland Petroleum Building, 1929.  CC
Kilgore map Map of East Texas Oil Field, 1933.  E.D. Ray, author.  Courtesy Texas General Land Office.
Big Inch map – . Big Inch and Little Inch pipeline routes, 1942 - 1943.  Courtesy Texas General Land Office.

Panel Six:  Impact and Options

Texas Chief The Texas Chief gusher, 1919.  CC
Nitroglycerin bomb diagram Patent diagram for nitroglycerin bomb, 1866.  Edward A.L. Roberts.
Failing Portable drill Failing Portable Drill, 1942.  Courtesy Oklahoma Historical Society. Print
Desdemona panorama Ground pools holding oil in Desdemona, Texas.  There were no pipelines to haul it away, 1919.  Courtesy Library of Congress.
Early Oil Fields map Map indicating locations and dates of discovery for early Texas oil fields, 2021.  Map provided by Texas Almanac.


As the project director, I would like to give credit to all the work done by the collaborators in preparing this exhibit.

Thank you to Lila Rakoczy of the General Land Office and Mary Adams of the W.K. Gordon Museum.

Thank you to our translators Maria Guzman and Evelyn Guillen

Thank you to our editors, advisors, and proofreaders:  Jon Hall, Joanna Spangler, Chandra Collins

Thank you to our graphic designer:  Laura Henson of Laura Henson Designs.  I leave positive reviews for her every time I can.

This project could not have been completed without the support of Ranger College, the City of Ranger, and the individuals who contributed their time and expertise.


Helen Cozart

Please contact us at 254-647-1414 or