By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
For years, the closest connection between Derrick Days and the oil patch was the name, but in recent years there’s been at least a few links to that history that helped build Corsicana. The tour was guided by C.L. “Buster” Brown, former mayor of Corsicana and an oilman himself.
The tour included stops at Petroleum Park on South 12th Street in Corsicana, where the first oil well was sunk; the former refinery on South 15th, which was the first refinery west of the Mississippi; as well as a long stop at the former home of Tuckertown, the rough neck tent city that sprang up in response to the enormous oil field that stretched between where the town of Navarro and the town of Powell are now.
Mildred is now where Tuckertown was, and the final stop of the tour was at the Mildred town hall, where a historical marker stands.
The discovery of oil in Corsicana, the first commercial oil field west of the Mississippi in 1894, was enormous for Navarro County, but not as big as the discovery of the Powell Woodbine in 1923. The first well was intended to be a water well, but the oil was even closer to the surface.
Brown said that when they finally hit the much-sought-after water, it came up hot and mineral-laden. The city built a natatorium and used the warm water to fill the pool inside. “After they filled the pool they had to wait a day before they could swim in it because it was so hot,” Brown explained.
The tour also included a short description of the geological make-up of the area, which created the oil pool under the county.
In all, about 125 million barrels of oil were pulled out of the field, and it’s still producing, although in much lower quantities, Brown said.
“Two thirds of the 125 million barrels was pulled out in the first five years,” Brown said.
It was during those boom years that the older schools in Corsicana ISD were built — Drane, Lee and Sam Houston — and the ornate yellow Chase Bank building, previously called the State National Bank.
Those were boom years for Corsicana, when the city’s population was about 50,000 people, and money came up out of the ground in geysers.
“Corsicana’s never been that big since,” Brown said. “We don’t have half that population now.”
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