Robert Wooster

SOUR LAKE OILFIELD. The Sour Lake oilfield is at Sour Lake, twenty miles northwest of Beaumont in southern Hardin County. The community is the site of the first commercial oilfield in the county. As early as 1866 it was predicted to be a prime location for exploration. Wells were dug in 1893, and by 1895 three small producers there led to the construction of the first refinery in Texas. After fire destroyed the first refinery, a new 100-barrel plant was constructed in 1898. The real boom, however, came in the wake of the Great Western Oil Company's 1902 gusher, discovered at a depth of 683 feet. The Sour Lake field yielded nearly nine million barrels the following year and transformed the resort town of Sour Lake into an exciting oil boomtown in the process. Overdrilling soon caused a decline in pressure at the field, drastically reducing the crude output. In 1912 Sour Lake was yielding only slightly more than a million barrels a year. Flank drilling increased production again by 1914, when over five million barrels were extracted. Cumulative crude-oil totals had reached nearly ninety million barrels in 1951. The Sour Lake field has also produced substantial amounts of natural gas.

George Fancher et al., The Oil Resources of Texas (Austin: Texas Petroleum Research Committee, 1954). Charlie Jeffries, "Reminiscences of Sour Lake," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 50 (July 1946).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Robert Wooster, "SOUR LAKE OILFIELD," accessed February 23, 2020,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...