About the East Texas Oil Museum (ETOM) at Kilgore College

Welcome to the East Texas Oil Museum at Kilgore College, located in Kilgore, Texas. This fascinating museum houses the authentic recreation of oil discovery and production in the early 1930s from the largest oil field inside U.S. boundaries. Here, visitors see the people, their towns, their personal habits, their tools and their pastimes – all colorfully depicted in dioramas, movies, sound presentations and actual antiques donated by East Texas citizens.

Journey back into the early 1930s to see how people lived. Refresh your memory to the lyrics of a deep-rooted gospel hymn in the church exhibit. Get a lesson in the history of local schools. Imagine how that antique car in the transportation exhibit ever got anywhere on those rough, rutted roads. 

Then step across the city limits into Boomtown, USA, – a full-scale town of stores, people, animals and machinery depicting the lively activity of a town booming in oil. Stop in at the Arp General Store and browse the shelves. Take the children to the Overton Drugstore. Don’t get your feet dirty on those rutted streets walking to the newspaper office for a complimentary copy of the Gusher Gazette. As you pass the barbershop, listen carefully for rumors of a new gusher, then pump your own gas outside the Pistol Hill gas station—make sure to go inside and see the video on drilling an oil well.

Remember the afternoons at the movies? A visit to the Boomtown Theater shows historical footage of the boom period and allows you feel a blowout gusher. 

Your visit is not complete without a trip to Boomtown’s very own Gladewater Museum. Study the geographical exhibits and take the Elevator Ride to the Center of the Earth with Professor Rockbottom. Let your guides take you 3,800 feet below the earth’s surface to where oil deposits lie. It’s fun and informative.

We aim to preserve, through period artifacts, oral histories and primary source documents that together as a mosaic, document East Texas in the 1930s.

Our Mission

The purpose of the East Texas Oil Museum at Kilgore College is to pay tribute to the independent oil producers and wildcatters, to the men and women who dared to dream as they pursued the fruits of free enterprise beginning in the 1920s and subsequently were successful in the discovery and development of the great East Texas Oil Feld in 1930 and beyond. Further, it is the mission to preserve, through period artifacts, oral histories and primary source documents that together as a mosaic, document East Texas in the 1930s.

Fun Fact Info

“In the modern era, the first roller cone patent was for the rotary rock bit and was issued to American businessman and inventor Howard Hughes Sr. in 1909. It consisted of two interlocking cones. American businessman Walter Benona Sharp worked very closely with Hughes in developing the rock bit. The success of this bit led to the founding of the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company. In 1933 two Hughes engineers, one of whom was Ralph Neuhaus, invented the tricone bit, which has three cones. The Hughes patent for the tricone bit lasted until 1951, after which other companies made similar bits. However, Hughes still held 40% of the world’s drill bit market in 2000. The superior wear performance of PDC bits gradually eroded the dominance of roller cone bits and early in this century PDC drill bit revenues overtook those of roller cone bits. The technology of both bit types has advanced significantly to provide improved durability and rate of penetration of the rock. This has been driven by the economics of the industry, and by the change from the empirical approach of Hughes in the 1930s, to modern day domain Finite Element codes for both the hydraulic and cutter placement software.”