Kilgore Texas Oil & Gas, History, Higher Education
Kilgore, founded in 1872, is located in Gregg and Rusk counties, and had a population of about 13,000 residents in the census of 2020.
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.
Mud, Mayhem, and the Making of Millionaires
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.
Kilgore at one time boasted a single downtown city block with the densest concentration of oil derricks in the world. 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.
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 East Texas Oil Museum is located on the campus of Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas. 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 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.
Christmas in Kilgore ... the City of Stars
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.
Downtown is also the site of the the Crim Theatre, which dates to the 1930s.
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.
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
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, Homewod Suites, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, and others.
Kilgore Texas Area Attractions
While visiting Kilgore and the Tyler area, you may want to take other interesting day trips in several directions:
- 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
- Canton - First Monday Trade Days, Texas Horse Park, Splash Kingdom Water Park
- Nacogdoches - Spring azalea trails, Ruby Mize Azalea Garden, Mast Arboretum
- Rusk - Texas State Railroad, Cherokee Civic Theatre, Grapeland Drive Thru Safari
- Lufkin - Ellen Trout Zoo, Cotton Square Heritage Park, First Street Arts Center, Texas Forestry Museum
- Jacksonville - Tomato Fest, Tops in Texas Rodeo
- Love's Lookout - beautiful 30-mile vista to the East
- 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
East Texas Oil Field - Historic Postcard