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Wildcatter: A Story of Texas Oil (1985)
San Antonio Public Library
Sound
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1985
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Color & B/W
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English
  • Map
  • Highlights
    About the Spindletop oil field
    Modern independent oilmen
    Life of a boomer
    About the Santa Rita oil well and Texon
    Drilling disappointment
    About the East Texas oil field
    Inspecting the drilling fluid
    Oil production takes over East Texas
    Attempts at government regulation
    The debate on nationalization
    Failure
    The demise of the boomtown
    A dry hole
  • Transcript
    NARRATOR (BILL OWENS): Oil has brought wealth to Texas. But the days of the gusher are history now. In June of 1984, Marathon Oil Company supervised a revival of the Santa RIta No. 1. Drilled in 1923, Santa Rita was the discovery well of the Big Lake oil field in West Texas. Its once great reserves of oil now depleted, the Santa Rita could only manage a few last gasps of salt water. 
    I met my first wildcatter 30 years ago when I was recording an oral history of Texas oil field people. I came on this wildcatter, moving a doodlebug rig at the end of a logging road in Hardin County. This was his story. A man alone with the nerve to follow a hunch, to drill in unproved territory, out where the wildcats yowled.
    Spindletop in 1901, Big Lake in 1923, East Texas in 1933. Three of the largest oil fields ever discovered in America. Each was the fulfillment of a wildcatter's dream. But in 1931, greed and waste brought martial law to Texas and National Guard troops into the oil fields. Today the industry is regulated by government, and the independent oilman lives in a world in which the oil is harder to find. Still, he is a gamble with a dream of his own.
    BILL GRUY: Most of the people here in Houston get pretty riled up when you tell him the best thing coming out of this city is Interstate 45 going north to Dallas. There's also a lot of money coming out of here, so I can't say anything.
    NARRATOR: Bill Gruy has decided to drill a 6400-foot well in a North Texas field already a honeycomb with dry holes. But before setting bit to ground, he will spread the risk by offering a piece to the well to investors.
    Bill sells the deal using geological charts and logs of nearby wells drilled 30 years ago. The logs describe geological formations encountered by each well in the area. Having studied these logs, Bill believes that oil will be found in the formation called the Bryson sand.
    W.A. MONCRIEF: I think a wildcatter is a man who is imbued with a spirit of making a real discovery, and is willing to take greater chances and play greater odds than the oil companies or men who are more conservative.
    MAT BARTON: Takes money. It takes money and plenty of it to do a wildcat well. And a man who hasn't got too much sense. With sense he would never wildcat.
    NARRATOR: In Beaumont, Texas, at the end of the century, the wildcatter was Pattillo Higgins, who was convinced that oil could be found under a nearby hill called Spindletop. Sure in his dream, Higgins planned a modern industrial community. He called it Gladys City from Gladys Bingham, his favorite Sunday school pupil. Unable to convince investors, Higgins joined with Anthony Lucas, who found backing on his own. Higgins was left out of the deal, and Lucas drilled the well and bears his name. It was the first American gusher, blowing at 100,000 barrels a day. The drillers—Jim, Al, and Curt Hamill—risked their lives to bring it under control. By the time they could shut it in, a million-barrel lake of oil had spread over Spindletop. Two months later, a spark from a passing locomotive set the hill on fire.
    CURT HAMILL: It created a great explosion. It would throw hundreds of barrel oil up in the air. And it would explode up in the air and plumb down the ground. And people all over that country were scared to death.
    NARRATOR: Chickens went to roost. People felt the end of the world and come. They ran to hide, but there was no place to hide from the wrath of God. It was a time for praying, a time for preaching. If only people had left the oil alone. All they could do was wait for the fire to burn itself out. In spite of the danger, oilmen raced each other to get oil from the ground. Derricks soon stood as thick as s trees on Spindletop. Promoters scrambled to capture as much oil as possible as quickly as possible, with no regard for the waste that rained off down a ravine. It was every man for himself.
    MICHEL HALBOUTY: It was a jungle. Everybody ate everybody else up. You could drill just as close as you wanted to anybody's land. There were too many wells drilled in a small, small reservoir area. And the waste was created by producing more than a well should produce, thereby ruining the reservoir.
    NARRATOR: Promoters worked as if the oil at Spindletop would never run out. But as pressure dropped, wells were put on pump and derricks destroyed by fire were never rebuilt. In 1904, Anthony Lucas returned to Spindletop.
    MICHEL HALBOUTY: Lucas came back and found out, and saw rather, that all those wells that were producing, five, ten, 15, 20 to 25,000 barrels a day were just trickling.
    NARRATOR: As he surveyed the hill, Lucas was heard to say, "The cow was milked too hard."
    MICHEL HALBOUTY: $80 million went in in the first boom. $80 million dollars was spent and only $50 million came out. There was a $30 million loss. Many people took that loss. But on the other hand, many, many people became wealthy, and new companies sprung out of that $50 million. Texaco. Gulf Oil. Sunocoil. Humble, which is now part of Exxon.
    NARRATOR: Though Pattillo Higgins received plenty of recognition for his faith in Spindletop, others reap the financial rewards of his dream—a dream come true.
    Miss Jessie Pierce came to Spindletop in 1902. Though it has been many years since anyone else has lived on the hill, Miss Jessie stubbornly refuses to leave.
    JESSIE PIERCE: Hildebrand, Joe, and them cowboys, and Syd Broussard and all them used to come up here. You see, this was all cattle. Thousands of head of cattle. They come up here to get the water to drink when they used to ride. And they called this Spindletop because the trees was all up... It was a name from a cowman. And that's the truth. You can ask any of the old timers living. Tanks were right there, right over on that side of the hill. And then down here, the oil used to run, there used to be black oil here where the oil was on fire. You know, from wells, too much oil and you couldn't get rid of, and it burned. Yeah that's up there. Right up there, right up close to where that little white thing. I know where that is. A lot of them have got vests. The gas on Spindletop would hurt their eyes, and mama used to, they'd come to her and she'd put pads on, take the swelling off. They'd come out on Sunday afternoon and turn the well on and see who's well go to the highest. And they'd pitch dollars betting on it. And they set everything on fire, and burned all that oil. They were the last Americans that wasted, they just, all for the money and all that business.
    NARRATOR: It has taken Bill Gruy five weeks to sell his oil deal. Nine investors have put up a total of $200,000. If the well succeeds, and the price of oil holes, each investor can expect a five-to-one rate of return over the next 10 years. If the oil is dry, tax benefits hold the investors' lost to 50 percent of their investment.
    Major companies can drill deeper and risk more, but Bill looks for oil in fields of little interest to the majors, fields of lower potential already picked over by those who have come before.
    Once the well is spudded in, drilling is continuous. 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It should take eight days to reach the first oil bearing formation, the Bryson sand, at 4,894 feet. Eighty-five years of memories lie beneath the ground and Spindletop. They belong to men who call themselves boomers.
    WILDCATTER 1: A boom end like this. You get a field when it goes dead, the boys drift off. This field's dead here, there's no fist fighting, drinking's kind of slack, not much happening. Town's got civilized. But when you get in there with a good rig, you probably—30, 40 rigs right around you—and everyone trying to beat the other one. I mean, it's fascinating. 
    WILDCATTER 2: We worked 12 hours a day for $2.50. $2.50. Seven till seven, 12 hours a day. Well that was my buddies. And they was the hardest hitting, fairest fighters bunch that I ever saw. And I've never seen them two-time a man, and I never seen one take a whipping.
    WILDCATTER 3: Well, [unintelligible], during those days they didn't have them. Everybody was his own boss, and everybody done as he please. Humanity was pumped up at that time. Everybody didn't have no respect for one another. And then it was just go and come, just a bunch of boomers, you might say. Here today and gone tomorrow.
    NARRATOR: Natural gas was a constant danger. Roughnecks approaching a field look to see if men and mules are standing up. If not, there was a race to safety until winds had blown the gas away.
    WILDCATTER 4: Oh I've seen lost of them fall of that board up there, when that chain didn't bit, you know, and fall down and hit that rotor and it running. Tear 'em all to pieces. Lots of men got killed. Oh, yeah. And if a man got killed, you'd look at him and forget it till the next day, because probably you'd see two more bodies the next day, you see. And it wasn't anything to get excited about.
    NARRATOR: The boom that was Spindletop spread like a fever in the earth, first to Sour Lake, Batson, Humble, then north to the Red River and west to Desdemona, Burkburnett, and Ranger. Madness, people said, to drill for oil on the arid plains of West Texas. But two man who had never drilled an oil well decided to try. In 1919, Frank Pickrell and Haymon Krupp of El Paso staked their dream on one eight-inch hole out in the middle of thousands of square miles of sand and mesquite.
    BERTE HAIGH: Some stock and well interest had been sold to a group of Catholic women, who apparently became a little doubtful of their financial wisdom, and they consulted with their priest. The priest was also a little doubtful and advised the women to invoke the aid of Santa Rita, the patron saint of the impossible.
    NARRATOR: The priests blessed an envelope filled with rose petals and gave it to Pickrell, who climbed to the top of the derrick and, scattering the petals to the wind, christened the well the Santa Rita No. 1. Living with his wife and baby daughter, Carl Cromwell worked two years drilling the well. Cromwell was helped by Dee Locklin, who moved to the well with his wife, Nora.
    NORA LOCKLIN: One afternoon some people passed, and camped just the other side of the rig, of the derrick. Toward night, when we walked up there, you just get hungry to talk to people. And while they were there, the lady asked me, "Have you lived in West Texas all your life?" And I said, "Yes." And she said, "Well you just don't know any better, do you?" And little we knew the value of that land that we were standing on. We went to bed that night just like we always do, got up and cook, and make coffee. I think that's as far as we got. We didn't get a breakfast that day because all at once the whole world woke loose. Carl ran out of his house and hollered real loud, and we ran out. And there was that bailor going to the top of that 86-foot derrick and hit the crown block and fell down the one side. And after that was just a cloud of oil came and began to spatter over everything. The houses, and the white-legged chickens weren't white anymore. And the old milk cow just jumped the fence and took off. And our garden was a sight.
    NARRATOR: Nora Locklin was witness to a modern miracle. The University of Texas, owner of the land, was suddenly rich. Pickrell and Krupp sold out and—gambler still—invested heavily in the stock market. The crash of 1929 took every cent they had.
    W.A. MONCRIEF: I asked Frank, later when we became good friends, how a man with $5 million would not provide himself with some sort of a kitty, so to speak, to fall back on in hard times. And I should never forget what his reply was. And that was this: "Money? A man with $5 million never figures he's going broke."
    NARRATOR: But the future of write in Texon, the town built around the Santa Rita No. 1. Planned by the company that owned the field, Texon was not like earlier boomtowns. It was a peaceful community with tennis courts, a semi-professional baseball team, and the swimming pool in which many residents were baptized. Texon even boasted a nine-hole golf course, with greens fashioned out of oil and sand.
    BERTHA DELZ: The way that it was when I came here, it was just one of the grandest places I've ever been. It was designed and planned for families and children, and our leaders in all just planned it that way. And it was just great. There was a drug store, grocery store, beauty shop, tailor shop. They planned the church, they hired the preacher. We had everything that was good, I think, in this camp of Texon.
    NARRATOR: Texon thrived, built on the riches brought up from 3,000 feet underground.
    As the bit cuts deeper, men on the derrick floor connect 30-foot joints with pipe to the drill stem. Each added length of pipe measures a day's progress. Work time is measured in minutes per foot. On wells like this, skilled hands work alongside roughnecks on their way up. In the old days, new hands are often farm boys, cotton pickers scornfully called boll weevil by men who were building a new industry.
    Geologists Jerry Kenebrew and Rick Alban expect to hit the Bryson sand at 4,894 feet. As the bit cuts through hard rock into sand, drilling speed will pick up. Samples of sand will then be taken from the bottom of the hole. But at 4,932 feet, the bit is still cutting back. There is no sign of the Bryson sand.
    Without the Bryson, everything now depends on luck. It should take six days to reach the next formation down: the Atoka conglomerate at 6,050 feet.
    The early wildcatters were no strangers to disappointment. During the hard times of the Great Depression, a 70-year-old, Shakespeare-quoting promoter from Oklahoma traveled East Texas, telling people that beneath their parched land by an ocean of oil. His real name was Columbus Marion Joiner, but people called him Dad.
    MAT BARTON: And he would walked every day hunting his dream. He told a dream, as he told it, he had laid down on those rocks under the seawall at Galveston right close to Breakers Bathhouse, and planning on committed suicide. He had lost, drilled a dry hole around Sealy, Texas, and he was broke and didn't have anything. And went to sleep, and dreamed that he found the biggest oil field in the world in Rusk County. And he would walk every day over Rusk County hunting that dream. And after about seven years, he found it on the Daisy Bradford farm on the hillside.
    NARRATOR: Dad Joiner wrote to Daisy Bradford, "Do you believe in science? Do you believe that there's, hidden in the bowels of the earth, untold millions of oil, gas, and other minerals? Will you dig, dig in the cotton patch, and deprive yourself of the many luxuries to the head? Our fathers rode in an ox cart and thought it was fine. You and I ride in automobiles and airplanes because someone had a vision of better things." Perpetually short on cash, Dad Joiner sold pieces of this dream to anyone willing to risk a few dollars on unproved leases and shares in his wildcat well.
    MAT BARTON: He had to swap leases, and beg and plead for people, and go around in junk piles, and buy it for a little or nothing. And a lot of them would give it to him just to get it moved off of the ground and everything else. They drilled these things with second-hand materials. He believed in that dream.
    NARRATOR: Dad took on as his partner Doc Lloyd, a 300-pound, self-educated geologist.
    W.A. MONCRIEF: He predicted that the field would be four to ten miles wide and 40 to 50 miles long. Of course everyone at that time thought he was nuts, including me.
    NARRATOR: Joiner presented potential investors with a study written by Lloyd entitled, "A geological, topographical, and petroliferous survey."
    JOE WHITE: This geological study that Doc Lloyd put into print for Dad Joiner was in error in every major point that Doc Lloyd made, with the exception that he predicted that they would find Woodbine sands at a depth of approximately 3,550 feet. The major companies said that if they did find the Woodbine in East Texas, it would be at a depth of some 5,100 feet, and it would not be an oil-bearing sand, but that it would produce salt water. And of course, as history would prove, Doc Lloyd did find the Woodbine sands at less than 3,600 feet, and it would produce the biggest oil field in the world. And how the man knew that, no one really knows. Most of the major geologists scoffed at him then, some scoff at him today, but the proof's in the pudding, and he was correct.
    NARRATOR: After three years and two abandon wells, Dad Joiner and Doc Lloyd shook hands on one of the most improbable success stories in oil history.
    J.P. MAXWELL: This is Dad Joiner. That's Doc Lloyd there, the geologist. That's H.L. Hunt and a pack salesman from Shreveport. And that's Glen Pool and Dave Hughes. And that's me. That good-looking fella there with a shovel in his hand. I was 20 years old, and I'm the only one living, that I know of, in this picture that worked on Joiner No. 3. I felt satisfied when the well come in, with that goose pimples come up over me, you know, right there. I don't know what it was, but it got up there. And it was about, looked like to me, 1,000 people all up and down here that felt the same way. This is oil from the Woodbine sands, the sweetest oil in Texas.
    NARRATOR: Dad Joiner was a hero to the people of East Texas, but not to his investors.
    JOE WHITE: And the truth of the matter is that Dan Joiner oversold interest in the Daisy Bradford No. 3, i.e., he sold more than 100 percent of the well. The best thing of course for Dad Joiner to have done at that time would have been simply not to renew the lease, let the lease expire, scuttle the well. And if he really believed that the Woodbine was there, as Doc Lloyd said it was, at 3,550 feet, would have been simply to have moved over and drill a fourth well. Why did Dad Joiner insist on renewing and continuing to drill, knowing that the legal problems were just around the corner if the well came in?
    NARRATOR: Nobody knows. But swamped with lawsuits, Joiner sold out to the poker-playing oilman from El Dorado, Arkansas, Haroldson Lafayette Hunt. As he signed the contract, Joiner reportedly told Hunt, "Boy, I hope you make $50 million." H.L. Hunt made over $100 million on the deal, the foundation of a fortune that would make him one of the richest men in the world.
    Drilling mud, a sophisticated mixture of chemicals, helps to shore up the sides of the hole and provides a circulating medium, which brings samples to the surface. Even with modern scientific equipment at their disposal, geologists often rely on their primary senses. Old timers had less equipment, but a sniff and a taste told them all they needed to know.
    One more day to the Lower Caddo. Three days to the Mississippian. An outside chance, but only the drill bit can tell.
    Dad Joiner's drill bit found oil, but even he had no idea how important his discovery was. Three months after the Daisy Bradford No. 3 came in, the Lou Della Crim No. 1 was brought in near Kilgore, 20 miles to the north. 20 miles farther to the north, Monty Moncrief was drilling the Lathrop No. 1.
    M.A. MONCRIEF: While they were drilling the well at 3,575 feet, the bit literally dropped into the sand, which was indicating either perhaps water or oil. Anyway, we instructed our crew to take a core, which they did with the old poor boy core barrel. And it came out of the well about midnight. And we psyched it up and a gunny sack. And they took it to the Greg Hotel without anyone seeing it except the drillers. And they laid it out on newspapers on the floor, and it looked exactly like brown sugar, absolutely saturated with oil. It was the most beautiful site that we had ever seen.
    NARRATOR: It was soon apparent that all three wells were producing out of one giant field 40 miles long and 10 miles wide. A 400-square-mile area in which it was virtually impossible to drill a dry hole.
    MICHEL HALBOUTY: Independents moved in just as a horde, just stampeded into the area. Got to as many leases they could, made all kinds of deals. You've got to remember one thing: The discovery was made at the beginning of a terrible depression. Consequently, the people were poor, living in these fan hills. And you can imagine that someone who haven't had even $1 to go out and buy food, that someone would come in and say, "I'll give you $100 to lease your land." And there were blacks and whites, and many of them were taken advantage of. There was no question about that.
    NARRATOR: Sitting directly on top of the oil field, Kilgore drew thousands of boomers. Unemployed workers from all over the country jammed the street. They lived in tents, if they had them, or out of doors, if they didn't.
    LIGGETT CRIM: The town was absolutely covered with cars, bumper to bumper, the sidewalks were crowded with people. You didn't know anybody, nobody knew you. But the first day of the boom, it rained. The trucks broke down, and they brought in mule teams to pull his trucks out of the mud.
    MAIDA JAGGERS: And I myself saw a team of mules go down in that mud pulling a boiler. I saw those mules, I guess foundries were in that mud until they drowned. I saw that with my own eyes. It was just mud, mud, mud. But it seems to me that wherever there's a boom, there's rain. When I first came down here, it rained 40 days and nights, just like Noah and the ark. 
    NARRATOR: In Kilgore, buildings were torn down to make way for oil wells. Twenty-four wells were squeezed onto one city block, the world's richest acre. The wasteful drilling practices of the past left billions of barrels of otherwise recoverable oil in the ground.
    BERTE HAIGH: The waste was both dollar-wise and energy-wise, because of the waste was pure and simple greed. Too many operators wanted to get, drill as many wells as their finances permit and get as many dollars back in your pocket as quickly as possible. Regardless of the effect on the future.
    NARRATOR: Many in the industry knew that overproduction was damaging another great field.
    BERTE HAIGH: The wells were drilled too fast. Water was allowed to encroach too quickly. When water bypasses oil in the formation, that oil is lost forever.
    NARRATOR: The Texas Railroad Commission, the agency supervising industry affairs, asked producers to leave in the ground the oil they could not sell. In the spring of 1931, the Commission issued a proration order limiting the amount of oil a well could produce daily. Major companies saw proration as a stabilizing measure, but small independents saw limiting profits as un-American. Many defied the order.
    JOE WHITE: Well, the little guys, the local people, wanted nothing of government. They wanted no government interference. And they saw this as a collusion between the major companies and government trying to squeeze out the little man.
    MAT BARTON: Well, it was a big company was trying to take over the field they put proration on, the little man wouldn't get enough money at 20 barrels a day to ever pay for his well. It was costing him $15, $20, $30,000 to drill a well.
    NARRATOR: By August of 1931, in spite of the proration order, production from the East Texas field reached a million barrels of oil a day. More than all the other wells in Texas combined. As a flood of oil from East Texas drove prices down, oil became cheaper than water. Ten cents a barrel. Major producers, seeing their profit margins cut, turn to the state for protection. August 15, 1931, Governor Ross Sterling declared East Texas to be in a state of insurrection. August 17, he declared martial law and sent National Guard troops to shut the field down. Oil prices would rise, some said, at the point of a bayonet.
    J.R. PARTEN: Governor Sterling had the best interests of the state at heart when he brought the troops out, but I wouldn't want to judge how effective they were.
    NARRATOR: Devious producers found numerous ways to conceal illegal production. The troops were powerless to stop them. The wells appeared to be shut down, but people say guardsmen could feel the heat of fresh flowing oil in pipelines. They called it hot oil.
    MAT BARTON: Yeah, they was running oil just in every direction out there, night and day, and selling it for ten cents a barrel. And a lot of them was running it without even gauging it, letting it run right down into the pipelines.
    NARRATOR: The hot oil war made the ever present dangers of the oil field even worse.
    MAIDA JAGGERS: In those days, the field was running wide open. The huddle, you know. There was no proration then. And the gas was, the excess gas, was burned off in flares. And in heavy weather, which we had sometimes here, it would settle in ravines and low places, and Major Bonehammer and Slats Cook, who was his lease foreman or pumper or whatever you call it, went out early one morning, and they were walking back from the well to the car and Major struck a match and lit a cigarette and an explosion occurred. Well, he and Slats were right side by side, and it burned Major fatally, but it hardly, well it burned Mr. Cook, but not that much. Major lived, that was early in the morning, and he lived until seven o'clock that night. 
    NARRATOR: By the end of 1932, it was obvious that the industry was drowning in its own oil. The situation was so bad that many oilmen called for nationalization.
    J.R. PARTEN: Then many elements in the oil industry, both large and small, independent operators as well as major oil companies, decided that maybe we ought to put this whole thing in the federal government.
    NARRATOR: In Washington in the spring of 1933, a nationwide assembly of petroleum associations voted overwhelmingly to support a bill giving Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes direct control over oil industry affairs.
    J.R. PARTEN: It is ironic, but people hadn't thought the thing through. They just hadn't thought the thing through. Price of crude oil had gone down to ten cents a barrel. And everyone was irrational.
    NARRATOR: But Harold Ickes never became oil tsar. President Franklin Roosevelt decided against nationalization of the industry. Focusing on transportation, in 1935 Congress passed the Hot Oil Act, prohibiting the interstate shipment of illegally produced oil. Hot oil operators could no longer find a market, and the proration battle was finally won. As oil prices rose, charges of price fixing were leveled against the industry.
    MICHEL HALBOUTY: The Railroad Commission never did call it price fixing, they couldn't afford to, because price fixing was against the law. But when you analyze it, not only was it conservation, itt was pure conservation. It was good for the state of Texas, it was good for the petroleum industry, and it was also very good for those who produced the oil. But in a way, I guess, you would say that it was oil price fixing, because it controlled the amount of oil to be produced. The demand for that oil became greater, and therefore the price went from ten cents a barrel, gradually, to $1 a barrel. Eventually, even those who were against proration realized that they were against a good cause and adopted it.
    MAT BARTON: It they'd allow them to run it wide open, it wouldn't have no oil field in two years. Now they'll have it for 20 more years, and it's already run from '32 to, and this is, '84. And that's 52 years this oil field has been producing. The government's proration saved it, and it's still got estimated 15 to 20 more years to produce before it goes dry. So proration saved the field.
    NARRATOR: Today proration is a fact of life, but only for those lucky enough to find the oil. The oil has reached total depth without encountering any show of oil or gas. A logging instrument is lowered into the hole. Through electrical and radioactive analysis, the log may indicate oil bearing formations missed during the drilling. The computer readout indicates something promising in the Mississippian formation. Bill Gruy has called out to the well.
    The Mississippian formation might be oil bearing, but there are indications of salt water.
    In a drill-stem test, the formation to be tested is sealed off, and any fluid in it is allowed to enter the hollow drill stem. The pipe is then pulled out and broken off in 9-foot lengths. The contents will be analyzed for signs of oil.
    The drill stem test is expensive. Another $10,000. It is also risky since a test might damage the hole.
    A good well will contain thousands of feet of free oil in the drill stem. With each length of empty drill pipe, the chance of oil grows slimmer.
    Only 500 feet of fluid, a mixture of drilling mud and water. No sign of oil or gas.
    Oil fields don't last forever. Texon, Texas, the town that flourished around the Santa Rita No. 1, is no longer a boomtown. As production from the field has dropped, Texon's population has also dwindled to just seven families today.
    BERTHA DELZ: The reason I have all this paper over these boxes, that's contact paper, I just put it over every box that's not rented, because I don't want to take a chance on putting someone's mail in a box that's supposed to be vacant, and it wouldn't be found for a long time.
    FRANKIE DELZ: Post Office was a combination with the drugstore, sat right here on this corner. And the Texon Cafe sat right there on that corner. And then we had the Texon barber shop, sat right in there. And then the Texon grocery store, on in there. And then the beauty, the dry goods store sat there. And then from here on down was just company houses.
    NARRATOR: Who knows what our future will be. Perhaps history will show that the story of the wildcatter is the story of America.
    MEREDITH TOMLINSON: A wildcatter is one who's always looking over the hills, looking for something. He's always looking for something. If he's lucky, why he's rich. If he's not, he's cold.