Kilgore, Texas is in the Piney Woods region of East Texas. Home to slighly less than 13,000 residents, Kilgore is often identified as the "Oil Capital of East Texas", due to its proximity near the center of the vast East Texas Oilfield. Residents are proud of their heritage, and evidence of the city's prominence in petroleoum production is widespread and accentuated throughout Kilgore.
This train depot in downtown Kilgore dates back to the early 20th Century.
Kilgore is located at just south of the junction of US Highway 259 and IH20, and at the junctions of Texas Highways 31 and 42. US 259 is the city's main thoroughfare; most places of note and interest lie within a few blocks of it. Kilgore's historic (and recently revitalized) downtown area is easily accessed from Kilgore Street, one of the city's major east-west streets.
The side streets can tend to be on the rough side, typical for a small East Texas town, but all are passable in essentially any automobile.
The World's Richest Acre Park. On this 1.2 acre site in Downtown Kilgore once stood the greatest concentration of producing oil wells in the United States. Over 2.5 million barrels of oil were culled from this location. All but one of the original derricks had been dismantled by the 1960's, but the original still remains along with 26 steel reproductions and a replica pumpjack. Open year-round.
The East Texas Oil Museum, Highway 259 at Ross Street, +1 903 983-8295. Tu-Sa 9AM-4PM (til 5PM April - September), Su 2PM-5PM. Special holiday schedule between Christmas and New Year's Day. Every aspect of the life of a 1930's oil boom town is recreated in this museum, which includes a full scale reproduction of a muddy Kilgore main street. Highlights include a virtual trip 3,800 feet deep into the Earth's crust to view simulated oil formations, and a restored 1930's era oil derrick.
Driller Park. This small ballpark, built in 1947, was once home to the minor-league Kilgore Drillers. A local treasure and Texas historical landmark, the park now serves as the home field of the Kilgore High School Bulldogs.
Kilgore College Rangerettes/Rangerette Museum, . M-Th 9AM-4PM, F-Sa 10AM-4PM. The Rangerette Showcase and museum, located on the Kilgore College campus, features a mechanized display of Rangerette props, a display of costumes from the spring stage show, Rangerette Revels, and thousands of photographs and newspaper clippings dedicated to the first synchronized linear dance troupe of its kind.
The London Museum and Tea Room. Texas Highway 42 (in New London, 10 miles south of Kilgore), +1 903 895-4602. M-Sa 9AM-4PM. This small museum contains artifacts and stories of the horror of the New London School Explosion, which occurred on March 18, 1937. Museum tours are hosted by Mollie Ward, herself a survivor of the explosion. Before leaving, stop by the tea room for an old-fashioned hand dipped malt or shake. Large groups should call ahead to set up a time for their visit so volunteer tour guides can be arranged.
In recent years, a number of antique and curio shops have sprung up in downtown Kilgore. If you have a decent amount of time and money to spend, they're worth browsing. You never know what you may run across. Oilfield mementos of all shapes and sizes are readily available all over town.
Hampton Inn & Suites Nacogdoches, 3625 South St., 1-936-560-9901, . This 79 room hotel has a pool, 24-hour gym, 24-hour business center, and a boardroom for meetings. They offer free hot breakfast and WiFi, and are located right off Highway 59, just three miles from the historic downtown area.
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