Kilgore was once one of the richest and wildest communities in east Texas. Its claim to fame? Oil. Almost overnight, over 1000 oil derricks went up in one city block. Kilgore became a true “wild west” town, with fortune hunters and not so savory characters, flocking in to stake their claim. Apparently things became so disorderly in the summer of 1931, the Texas Rangers were sent in to restore order.
In Texas, Kilgore is known as The City of Stars for the stars that decorate the remaining oil derricks. I didn’t know this until I went to Kilgore myself, which I had no plans to do but I ended up with a day of work on a reality show, Kitchen Impossible.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the downtown area, basically one city block, has been restored and has a number of small restaurants, a few cute shops, and the old Crim movie theater. And most important, distinguishing Kilgore from any other town anywhere in the world are the oil derricks. I think they add an architectural element that makes it more interesting. Otherwise it would be just like any other small, rural, town, that had once been a boom town. The derricks are strictly for historical interest now and not in use.
According to the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce website, the lights on top of the oil derricks are turned on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. There are over eighty oil derricks remaining. Hence the name, City of Stars. If I head that way again I’ll probably stop and photograph them. Since I was going to work I took only my old Nikon Coolpix, which I used to take these photographs.
Kilgore is just a few miles off Interstate 20 east. Follow the signs for downtown. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the rows of oil derricks. If you’d like to read more about the restoration of the oil derricks check out the Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation website.
Read more about Kilgore:
Find out more about the largest oil field in the U.S., and the history of the oil industry:
All materials copyright Penny Sadler 2012.