Natural Resources of Texas
When one thinks of natural resources, probably the first things that come to mind are fossil fuels. If you bring the state of Texas into the equation, you think of the big oil wells. Texas tea, black gold, swamp juice, whatever you want to call it, oil is a big part of people's perception of Texan natural resources. But there are a lot more natural resources in Texas than you might think. The natural soils make for good farming and ranching conditions, we've got great rock deposits for a variety of industrial uses, and we have a number of different mineral deposits scattered through the state. It's time we took a look at some of the many natural resources Texas has to offer.
First up, of course, has to be the big one. Out of 254 counties in the state, 232 produce some quantity of oil. How did the petroleum industry get started in Texas? People actually knew about petroleum deposits in Texas long before they could figure out a good use for the stuff. Indians knew of seeps in the ground where petroleum oozed up long before Europeans found their way to the Americas. Those Europeans didn't know what to do with it either at first. Hernando de Soto's crew used the stuff to caulk their boats to make them watertight. The first Texas oil well was drilled in Nacogdoches County in 1866, and other small wells followed. The first major oil well in Texas was drilled in Corsicana in 1894, and the BIG one, Spindletop, blew out in grand style on January 10, 1901. But the demand for the oil took a while to catch up to production. After Spindletop, the country started seriously moving towards a petroleum-based economy.
Petroleum has played a major part in shaping the economic, geographic, and social history of the state. As stated earlier, most Texas Counties produce some petroleum, but there are a number of areas where it is especially concentrated. The most important of these is the Permian Basin. In the latter half of the Paleozoic era, sediments rich in organic matter accumulated here when a shallow sea got cut off from the main oceans and evaporated off, leaving lots of dead critters and evaporites. These sediments eventually got buried and compressed, causing the oil and gas to form "pockets in permeable rock, surrounded by impermeable rocks so that they couldn't escape. There the fluid sits until someone pokes a hole (well) into the area and the contents rush out as the tremendous pressure is released. Other areas of Texas with notable petroleum sources include East...