Museum news, exhibits and events.

Updated March 2020

Note to museum directors, staff, and dedicated volunteers: The American Oil & Gas Historical Society maintains a list of U.S. petroleum museums. To add your museum, update current information, or promote a news item, event, or exhibit opening, email with details. Also see events page.

“Sweetest Festival in Texas” set for November 2020

The 32nd Heritage Syrup Festival will take place all day on November 14, 2020, at the Depot Museum and its grounds (five scenic acres, 12 historic and restored structures). Activities include bands and dancing at Heritage Square, Main Street, and the Civic Theatre in downtown Henderson. Organizers proudly claim the event among the “Sweetest Festival in Texas.” The Rusk County museum, a 1901 Missouri Pacific railway depot, “today is your ticket to East Texas heritage – and offers education instruction for folk arts.

East Texas Oil Museum at Kilgore College

Big Inch Pipeline Event – On January 25, 2020, a popular community oil museum and the Gregg County Historical Museum presented a special event, “Oil for Victory: Big Inch Pipeline Lecture and Panel” to celebrating the historic pipeline and the city of Longview’s sesquicentennial anniversary.

According to the East Texas Oil Museum, local historian Larry Courington explained the key role the Big Inch line played in fueling the Allies’ victory in World War II. The 1,254 mile-long pipeline transported Texas oil to the east coast. A panel discussion followed. Speakers included Don Carleton, executive director, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas; Kimberly Fish, local author; Mickey Smith, former Gregg County Judge; and Luke Legate, director of G. Fox Consulting.

Boomtown Theater Renovation – In addition to the East Texas Oil Museum’s WWII pipeline exhibit, the museum’s popular Boomtown Theater reopened after a renovation, according to Manager Olivia Moore. It was the first significant renovation of the theater since the museum opened in 1980. A ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 1, 2020, included Moore, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Kilgore College President Brenda Kays, and Kilgore Mayor Ronnie Spradlin.

“Thousands of visitors over the years have learned about the rich history of the East Texas Oil Boom, a history that took place right here in our backyard by watching ‘The Great East Texas Oil Boom’, a movie in the theater,” Kays noted. “Now, that movie has been digitized and it will last from this point forward into a state-of-the-art production and the theater has received major upgrades and renovations to improve the experience of our guests to the museum.”

According to the Kilgore News Hearld, “Kays acknowledged and thanked the city of Kilgore for their financial support of $140,000 towards the renovation project and announced Moore would hang a commemorative plaque in Boomtown Theater memorializing the date of the reopening.”

The East Texas Oil Museum at Kilgore College also hosts a variety of group events, including a meeting of the local chapter of the American Chemical Society. For more information, contact ETOM Manager Olivia Moore at (903) 983-8295 or email

Petroleum Museum adds 1920s era Steel Derrick

A giant steel derrick has become the latest impressive outdoor attraction at the Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas. “The Museum is erecting its newest Oil Patch exhibit – a late 1920s Emsco metal derrick used in the Darst Creek Oilfield in eastern Guadalupe County,” noted the museum’s quarterly newsletter Bits & Bytes in October 2019. “Hundreds of these derricks, often only 350 to 400 feet apart, dotted the oilfields around Luling.”

A dozen Midland, Texas, companies donated equipment to restore a circa 1920s steel derrick. Photo courtesy Petroleum Museum.

Discovered on July 18, 1929, by the Texas Comany, the oilfield would yield almost 107 million barrels of oil over the next three decades.

“These simple steel derricks play a huge part in the history of the petroleum industry,” noted a NewsWest9 reporter on November 18, 2019, adding, “Through the ’30s, steel derricks were used to drill oil wells but after their job was done they were left standing dormant throughout the United States.”

The Petroleum Museum’s facilities coordinator, James White, reportedly spend five years searching for a suitable historic steel derrick before finding one stacked in a field in Luling, Texas (home of another popular oil museum). Occidental Petroleum Corporation bought and donated the derrick to the Petroleum Museum; other Midland area companies donated other equipment.

The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Join AOGHS today to help maintain this energy education website, expand historical research, and extend public outreach. For annual sponsorship information, contact © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.

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