Oil Springs

Oil Springs is on Farm Road 226 thirteen miles east of Nacogdoches in southeastern Nacogdoches County. Indians used oil seepage in the area for medicinal purposes. As early as 1790 Spanish and Anglo settlers learned the Indians' use of the oil, and also applied it to their animals as a salve and used it to grease their axles and wheels. In late 1859, Lyne Taliaferro Barret, perhaps inspired by Edwin Drake's 1859 discovery of oil in Pennsylvania, leased land at Oil Springs and began to drill. He was interrupted by the Civil War. In 1865, however, Barret and some friends established the Melrose Petroleum Oil Company and obtained a new lease on the land. In 1866, at a depth of 106 feet, Barret struck oil. The well had a flow of about ten barrels a day, but Barret was unable to find financial support for his venture, so he was forced to give up. His project lay dormant for nearly two decades. In 1887 new drilling companies hit oil and by 1889 had forty producing wells. A boom lasted until 1900, and some wells continued to produce after that time. A smaller boom came after the United States entered World War I; some of these wells produced into the 1950s. The Texas State Historical Survey Committee (see TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION) in 1967 placed a marker several miles northeast of Nacogdoches on Farm Road 226, marking the location of the first producing oil well drilled in Texas; other firsts at the site included the first attempt at refining oil in Texas as well as the state's first commercial oilfield, its first steel storage tanks, and its first pipeline. In the late 1980s Oil Springs consisted only of four old storage tanks, a few wells that still produced, three nonproducing wells, and eight family homes. The population of Oil Springs at that time was twenty-one; most of its residents were retired, but some worked in Nacogdoches. At that time the people living near Oil Springs grew gardens and raised farm animals such as pigs and chickens.

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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