Texas Pecos Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Pecos Black Gold

While the Pecos Trail Region offers plenty of venues for exploring the story of Texas oil, the Million Barrel Museum in Monahans wins hands down for the most descriptive name, embodying the spirit of a mammoth industrial market that has yet to subside. Dominating the 14.5 acre site is an enormous oil storage tank built in 1928 and designed to hold over a million barrels of crude. Today, a segment of the tank serves as the four-hundred-seat Meadows Amphitheater. Next door, the restored Holman House provides interpretive exhibits about the region.

A more thorough overview of early Texas oil history can be seen at the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Midland where a collection of outdoor oil rigs and derricks, exhibits and displays of oil’s 250 million year old history, and a collection of vintage 1960’s race cars highlights the industry’s advances and contributions. The museum maintains a robust schedule of events for families and school groups as well. Regional oil-related events include the industry’s Permian Basin International Oil Show, an annual event for the business, and the Permian Basin Expo, oil’s biggest fair.

Want to see where much of it all got started? Visit the site of the Santa Rita No. 1, the 1923 gusher that changed fortunes across the state. The original site, west of Big Lake, features a historical marker and replica of the oil derrick that brought gold up from underground. Regional museums including the White-Pool House Museum in Odessa, the Hickman Museum in Big Lake, and the Museum of the Desert Southwest in Crane all provide interpretive exhibits of the oil industry history. Perhaps one of the most entertaining may be the Iraan Museum. In addition to an exhibition on the Yates Oilfield, one of the most prolific in history, the museum features Alley Oop Park and Fantasyland with its giant replica of Dinny the Dinosaur. Dinny and his pal Alley Oop starred in a 1930’s comic strip created by geologist and native Texan V. T. Hamlin. Dinny didn’t have much to do with oil (creatures far smaller did) but he loves having his picture taken anyway.  

Return to Our Stories