(ODD)yssey, Blog Post

Field of oil derricks in downtown Kilgore, Texas, commemorate World’s Richest Acre

From Sunday, July 21 through Friday, July 26, Sweetums and I drove 2,150 miles from Huntsville, Alabama, to Fort Worth, Texas, and back again. I am posting the stops in order of the trip. The map is below. Most sites will be included in my upcoming Guide to Southern Oddities.

Stop No. 11: World’s Richest Acre

100 North Main Street, Kilgore, Texas

We decided to stop in Kilgore – a quaint town between Shreveport, La., and Tyler, Texas – to see its most unusual attraction: the World’s Richest Acre. The grouping of oil derricks is actually a re-creation of what Kilgore was like during its 1930s oil-boom days, when many businesses in the town were demolished to get to the oil that was discovered beneath the ground.

According to VisitKilgore.com, “The block had 24 wells that pumped more than 2.5 million barrels of oil over a 30-year period. The park features one original as well as more than 70 restored oil derricks with stars atop them that are lit during the Christmas season. Oil wells were drilled on street corners and numbered close to 1,200 at the height of the boom.”

A historical marker at the site explained: “Developed before well-spacing rules, this block is the most densely drilled tract in the world, with 24 wells on 10 lots owned by six different operators. “

An oil worker in downtown Kilgore, Texas, in 1939. (Library of Congress)

The derricks erected in the 1930s produced so much oil that the area was dubbed the “World’s Richest Acre.” All but one of the original derricks were dismantled in the early 1960s so donated derricks were used to build the park in the 1990s.

The World’s Richest Acre Park was fascinating, especially for those, like us, who rarely see oil derricks other than on TV. A display showed old photos of the town during the boom days.

We were even more intrigued with the miniature derricks that appeared to be used as Christmas trees during the holidays. Each had a star that lights up at the top.

The miniature derricks with stars on top, lined up in front of the larger ones in the World’s Richest Acre Park in Kilgore, Texas. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
World’s Richest Acre Park in Kilgore, Texas. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission Required)
World’s Richest Acre Park in Kilgore, Texas. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission Required)
World’s Richest Acre Park in Kilgore, Texas. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission Required)
World’s Richest Acre Park in Kilgore, Texas. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
World’s Richest Acre Park in Kilgore, Texas. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission Required)
Crim Theatre in downtown Kilgore, Texas. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission Required)
World’s Richest Acre Park in Kilgore, Texas. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission Required)
World’s Richest Acre Park in Kilgore, Texas. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
World’s Richest Acre Park in Kilgore, Texas. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission Required)
World’s Richest Acre in downtown Kilgore, Texas, in 1939. (Photo by Library of Congress)
World’s Richest Acre in downtown Kilgore, Texas, in 1939. (Photo by Library of Congress)
World’s Richest Acre in downtown Kilgore, Texas, in 1939. (Photo by Library of Congress)
World’s Richest Acre in downtown Kilgore, Texas, in 1939. (Photo by Library of Congress)
World’s Richest Acre in downtown Kilgore, Texas, in 1939. (Photo by Library of Congress)

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