Join us this weekend on C-SPAN2's Book TV and C-SPAN3's American History TV as we explore the literary life and history of Beaumont city where oil was first discovered in Texas, ushering in the petroleum age in the state.
All weekend long on Book TV you will see interviews with local authors and hear about special collections and the literary culture of Beaumont, and on American History TV (AHTV) we’ll take you to different historic sites as we learn about where the oil industry in Texas got its start.
C-SPAN’s Local Content Vehicle staff traveled to Beaumont earlier this month to gather this programming and also worked with our Time Warner Cable partners to visit schools and meet with local officials while there.
The Spindletop and Lucas Gusher - On Jan. 11, 1901, oil began gushing out of a salt dome mound about three miles south of downtown Beaumont. Dubbed the “Lucas Gusher”, the oil discovery on Spindletop Hill changed the economy of Texas and helped usher in the petroleum age. Gulf Oil and Texaco were formed to develop production at Spindletop, which remained productive until 1936. Other oil wells in the area were subsequently found as well.
Gladys City Boomtown- With the discovery of oil, an economic boom came to Beaumont. This re-created city depicts what existed following the discovery of oil at Spindletop in 1901. Gladys City was originally intended to be the “perfect industrial city” but after oil was discovered, the rapid influx of businessmen, oilfield workers, prostitutes, and others made that plan impossible.
The James Commission - Join us as we visit the site of the former Dixie Hotel – an infamous brothel on Crockett Street. By the mid-1950s, as an outgrowth of the oil industry, Beaumont had become at hotbed of vice. For decades, gambling, prostitution and other crime thrived as local police and government officials either looked the other way or took kickbacks. In 1960 the James Commission – an investigating committee of the Texas House of Representative – comes in and the result is a cleaned up Beaumont with governmental reforms and a crackdown on crime. As a result of the reforms, the Dixie Hotel was closed in 1961.
Beaumont Race Riots of 1943 – On June 15, 1943 a riot exploded in Beaumont as white shipyard workers confronted black workers after hearing that a local white woman had accused a black man of raping her. Martial law was imposed on the city for five days, but during that time 3 people were killed. We’ll travel to Forsythe Street – a center of successful African-American businesses at that time- to hear this story.
Texas Congressman Jack Brooks – We take you to Lamar University and to the statue there of longtime Democratic Party Congressman and Committee Chairman Jack Brooks to learn about his career in the House which spanned 40 years. Defeated for re-election in 1994, Congressman Brooks was in the motorcade in Dallas when JFK was shot, on the plane when LBJ was sworn-in, helped write the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965. He also helped draft the articles of impeachment regarding President Nixon.
Desegregation Suits in Beaumont – We travel to the Federal Courthouse where historian Robert Robertson talks about two landmark cases that were argued there - one involving desegregation of Lamar University and the other dealing with a group of African-American golfers who sued to get the local white golf course opened up to black golfers.
The McFaddin-Ward House to learn about the early 1900’s in Beaumont as we look at the influence of the cattle and lumber industries on this area. The McFaddin-Ward family lived in this Beaux-Arts Colonial Revival house for seventy five years and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
The Texas Energy Museum to hear about the history of the oil industry in Texas as well as some of the different techniques used in oil drilling. We’ll learn about the different scientific techniques used in the early days of oil drilling and extraction compared to today’s methods.