Texas to-dos: January
East Texas (Learn how oil changed Texas)
On January 10, 1901, the Lucas gusher at Spindletop spewed black gold into the Texas sky, heralding a momentous and enduring shift in the Texas—and world—economy. Celebrate with a pilgrimage to Beaumont, where it all began. At the site of the Spindletop salt dome, a marker tells the gusher’s story. But just a mile north, the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum re-creates not only the oil derrick but also the boomtown that Beaumont became in 1901. Watch a film on the state’s first oil strike, poke your head into a replica of a turn-of-the-20th-Century saloon, and, on special occasions, watch the re-created derrick spew a geyser of water into the air.
Then go to downtown Beaumont and learn the science behind the oil industry at the Texas Energy Museum, which explains how prehistoric life turned into oil and how oil is refined into gasoline. You can pretend you’re piloting an oil tanker past Port Arthur, hear accounts of the 1901 gusher in the words of visionary Pattillo Higgins and driller Anthony Lucas, and learn about the many products—from cosmetics to household plastics—that owe their existence to petroleum.
From the January 2013 issue.