BROWNSVILLE – In the Texas Triple ‘C’ Crown we’ve covered Cotton and Cattle and now we’re going to talk about the third ‘C’, Crude oil. Texas has benefited from oil since about 1901, but the first well that was drilled in Texas was in 1866.
It was in Saint Augustine County when Spanish conquistadors came through. One of them that passed through Beaumont commented back to the king in 1548. He said that he saw pools of oil on lakes that were there outside of Beaumont and hat became the Beaumont field.
How did oil benefit the Rio Grande Valley? Back at the turn of the century there was a buzz about Texas, about the soil and the fortunes that were to be made and that caught on in South Texas as well. There were all kinds of exploratory missions that went out trying to drill for the oil but there wasn’t the technology to figure out where the salt domes were and all the substrata.
There is no oil in the RGV, mainly gas. It goes to show you how close oil drilling was done in proximity to Deep South Texas. There were wells that were out by Boca Chica Beach and another one that was off of San Martin Lake. There were several of them in the area, but they were really non-producing to the degree that it was not really feasible to get them going.
The oil land grant families, the old Spanish based families, came into this area in the 1700’s. Those were the ones that retained the oil rights to a lot of the lands that were in Hidalgo and Willacy Counties and further up. Those residuals are still being collected by a lot of these old families that were close to the core agreement for these grants. That is the reason that Texas does not have a state income tax, because of oil. The benefit of that and the taxation that came through has sustained Texas for all these years in a huge way.
In the present the RGV still benefits from this through the Port of Brownsville because of the shipments that come through. There is a vast shield called the Eagle Ford Shale. It extends from the Austin area down into Roma, Rio Grande City and Hidalgo County.
That oil, a lot of it, was moved out of the Port of Brownsville and it continues to do so. Oil has written its mark on our culture down here and the benefits of that have been enormous.