Kilgore Texas: The City of Stars
Kilgore, founded in 1872, is located in Gregg and Rusk counties in Upper East Texas, and had a population of about 14,000 residents in the census of 2020.
It is situated on Interstate Highway I-20, U.S. Highway 259, and Texas Highways 31 & 42, 120 miles from Dallas, 200 miles from Houston and 70 miles from Shreveport. The City of Tyler is located west of Kilgore, Longview to the northeast, and Henderson to the south.
Attractions and Things to Do in Kilgore
Christmas in Kilgore ... the City of Stars
Downtown Kilgore is a destination for residents and visitors alike. Surrounded by artifacts of its oil heritage like the 37 oil derricks that dot the downtown skyline as well as the preserved Art Deco buildings, downtown Kilgore continues to be a very special place.
Each Christmas, Kilgore lights up its derricks, helping the city maintain its title as the state's official "City of Stars." The lights are turned on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving and remain lit until after January 1.
Restaurants, salons, gift stores as well as two historic theaters are year-round destinations. A number of attractions are popular in Kilgore, such as:
- The World's Richest Acre - A landmark and a symbol of the oil boom years that is one of the most photographed and visited sites in Kilgore
- The Texan Theater - Built in 1931, the go-to place for Westerns. Owned by the City of Kilgore, ongoing renovations aim to revitalize the historic venue. Open for viewing during special downtown events and available to rent for weddings and events.
- The Coca-Cola Mural - A picture perfect spot to complete any historic downtown located on the side of the BTH Bank building
- Texas Museum of Broadcasting & Communications
- The Old Post Office
- The Crim Theater - From the mid-1960s to 1972, the Crim relocated to the Texan. Since that time, the theater relocated back to its original building and restored its neon marquee.
- Many quant shopping venues
- Dining options - The mix of restaurants truly provides an authentic culinary experience within the downtown district. From burgers at The Back Porch & Char-burger Stockade – to portobello mushroom ravioli – the options are endless.
- Special events
The Oil and Gas Industry
Mud, Mayhem, and the Making of Millionaires
The East Texas oil and gas industry dates from the 1930s, and continues to this day to be an important part of the economy and job market of Kilgore as well as Longview, Marshall, Gladewater, Van, Jacksonville and other cities and towns.
The history of oil and gas exploration in Texas is a long one, dating from the first major discovery at Corsicana in 1894.
This giant East Texas oil field extended into parts of Smith, Upshur, Gregg, Cherokee and Rusk counties.
The discoveries and production of oil have led to the creation of many Texas towns, and to the organization of companies which have become national and international players in the oil industry.
East Texas Oil Museum
Kilgore at one time boasted a single downtown city block with the densest concentration of oil derricks in the world.
The well-known and respected East Texas Oil Museum is located on the campus of Kilgore College in Kilgore. This fascinating museum houses the authentic re-creation of oil discovery and production in the early 1930s from the largest oil field inside U.S. boundaries.
Here, visitors see the people, their towns, their personal habits, their tools and their pastimes – all colorfully depicted in dioramas, movies, sound presentations and actual antiques donated by East Texas citizens.
Located at Hwy. 259 at Ross St., Kilgore, TX 75662. For details, call the museum at 903.983.8295.
For more information on Kilgore and its impact on the oil and gas industry, we highly recommend visiting the renown East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore.
For more on the history of the oil and gas industry in Texas as a whole, we recommend you visit the Texas Almanac published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Kilgore is the site of Kilgore College, a well known institution of higher education, with more than 5,000 students. Founded in 1935, it is a publicly supported, two-year, comprehensive community college offering postsecondary educational opportunities.
The college is home to the world famous Kilgore Rangerettes dance and drill team. Since 1940, the Rangerettes are the world's best-known collegiate drill team, traveling from coast-to-coast and border-to-border in the United States and on several world tours.
Rangerette Showcase and Museum
Located on the Kilgore College campus, the Rangerette Showcase and Museum features a mechanized display of Rangerette props, a display of costumes from the spring stage show, Rangerette Revels, and thousands of photographs and newspaper clippings depicting the Rangerettes' storied history. For more information visit the Rangerette Showcase Website
Shopping in Kilgore
The Shops on Main
The Gold Investor
Josey Wales Antiques & More
RC Comics Geektopia
Euphoria Skate Shop
For more information on Kilgore shopping options, visit
Kilgore Mercantile & Music
One of the many stores in historic downtown Kilgore is Kilgore Mercantile, an ice cream shop serving many flavors of Blue Bell, a music school & instrument store, and gift shop.
The store features souvenirs, local preserves & salsas, old fashioned candy and local crafts, jewelry, handbags, paintings and much more. Be sure to check out their great selection of affordable guitars, ukuleles, and accessories available in the store.
Located at 105 N. Kilgore Street, Kilgore, TX 75662 - Phone 903.926.5369
Kilgore Motels and Accommodations
In addition, there are other accommodations in nearby Tyler including a Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Select, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Country Inn & Suites, Homewood Suites, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, and others.
Map of Kilgore Texas (courtesy of Google Maps)
Kilgore Area Resources
Kilgore Texas Area Attractions
While visiting the Kilgore area, you may want to take other interesting day trips in several directions:
Texas state line concrete marker near Waskom
- Gladewater - antique capitol of East Texas, Gusher Days, Roundup Rodeo, Helen Lee Daffodil Gardens
- Gilmer - East Texas Yamboree, Historic Upshur Museum, Lake Gilmer
- Joinerville Texas - Daisy Bradford oil discovery monuments and Great East Texas Oilfield markers, Gaston Museum
- Longview - Gregg County Fair & Exposition, Longview Museum of Fine Arts, R.G. LeTourneau Museum, Great Texas Balloon Race, historic buildings, shopping, restaurants
- Marshall - Michelson Museum of Art, Starr Family home State Historic Park, Harrison County Historical Museum, The Weisman, Ginocchio Hotel, T&P Railroad Museum, Christmas Wonderland of Lights
- Carthage - Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, East Texas Oil & Gas Blast, Piney Woods Quilt Festival Rode Jamboree
- Henderson - Heritage Syrup Festival, Howard Dickinson House Museum, Depot Museum, antique shopping, Historic Downtown Square
- Tyler - Municipal Rose Garden, TJC Planetarium, Caldwell Zoo, Tyler Museum of Art, Lake Tyler, Rose Rudman Recreational Trail, Cotton Belt Depot, Goodman-LeGrand House
- Lake Tyler - swimming, boating, fishing, skiing close-in to Tyler
- Lake Palestine - Boating, fishing, skiing and camping, just south of Tyler
Oil Derricks in Downtown Kilgore, Texas, during the East Texas oil boom