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The initial “oil boom” was completed Jan. 26, 1931 when the J.K. Lathrop lease in Gregg County came in at 3,587 feet, producing 18,000 barrels daily. The Lathrop well was situated on land assembled by B.A. Skipper of Longview and taken over by the Arkansas Fuel Oil Company.

Production of East Texas’ newest commodity increased rapidly from seven wells every other week, to seven wells daily, to more than 100 wells put into production each day. The first oil discovered sold for $1.10 a barrel, but prices plummeted to 15 cents as supply flooded the market and drilling activity spread to Upshur, Smith and Cherokee counties.

Production swelled to more than 1,000,000 barrels daily and in August 1931, National Guardsmen were ordered into the area to keep peace between roughnecks, lease hounds, oil speculators and camp followers. These actions finally culminated in legislative action – a market-demand law, confiscation law, truck-tender law, the refinery control and felony bill, and the Connolly Hot Oil Act of 1935, which restored order and stability.

The East Texas Oil Field has produced more than 4.5 billion barrels of oil. Some of that gave the Allies the petroleum-reserve stability needed to win World War II. The resulting wealth produced new towns, new ways of living and a livelihood for thousands of East Texas citizens. And the wells are still pumping. < Back