Texas: Oil, Industrialization, and World Wars
Oil, Industrialization, and World Wars
The transformation of Texas into a partly urban and industrial society was greatly hastened by the uncovering of the state's tremendous oil deposits. The discovery in 1901 of the spectacular Spindletop oil field near Beaumont dwarfed previous finds in Texas, but Spindletop itself was later surpassed as oil was discovered in nearly every part of Texas. Texas industry developed rapidly during the early years of the 20th cent., but conditions worsened for the tenant farmers, who by 1910 made up the majority of cultivators. Discontented tenants were largely responsible for the election of James Ferguson as governor.
World War I had a somewhat liberating effect on African-American Texans, but the reappearance of the Ku Klux Klan after the war helped to enforce “white supremacy.” The economic boom of the 1920s was accompanied by further industrialization. The Great Depression of the 1930s, while severe, was less serious than in most states; the chemical and oil industries in particular continued to grow (the East Texas Oil Field was discovered in 1930).
The significance of the petrochemical and natural gas industries increased during World War II, when the aircraft industry also rose to prominence and the establishment of military bases throughout Texas greatly contributed to the state's economy. Postwar years brought continued prosperity and industrial expansion, although in the 1950s the state experienced the worst drought in its history and had its share of destructive hurricanes and flooding.
Many projects for increased flood control, improved irrigation, and enhanced power supply have been undertaken in Texas; notable among these are Denison Dam, forming Lake Texoma (shared between Texas and Oklahoma); Lewisville Dam and its reservoir, supplying Fort Worth and Dallas; Lake Texarkana on the Sulphur River; and Falcon Dam and its reservoir on the Rio Grande. The Amistad Dam on the Rio Grande, serving both the United States and Mexico, was completed in 1969.
Sections in this article:
- Industry in the Late Twentieth Century
- Oil, Industrialization, and World Wars
- The Late Nineteenth Century
- Civil War and Reconstruction
- The Texas Republic and U.S. Annexation
- Independence from Mexico
- American Expeditions and Settlement
- Spanish Exploration and Colonization
- Government, Politics, and Higher Education
- Places of Interest
- West Texas
- High Plains
- Blackland Prairies
- Rio Grande Valley
- Gulf Coast
- East Texas
- Facts and Figures
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