Nestled in the lush Piney Woods of East Texas is a city where time stands still. Here you’ll find rows of oil derricks towering over a quaint downtown and the world-famous Kilgore College Rangerettes in their white cowgirl hats and boots. You guessed it. This charming city is Kilgore, Texas, a thriving community of around 15,000, known as the “City of Stars” for all of the lighted stars atop the oil derricks that shine down over the town during the Christmas season. With its rich heritage in the oil industry and close proximity to a number of East Texas lakes, Kilgore is great stop on a Texas road trip or a weekend getaway.
Kilgore was settled by plantation owners before the Civil War and was established in 1872 when the Great Northern Railroad built a rail line connecting Longview and Palestine. As many great Texas stories begin, Kilgore became a thriving East Texas hotspot when oil was discovered in 1930. It wasn’t just a little bit, either. Instead, it was one of the largest oil reservoirs ever discovered in the contiguous United States. By the end of the 30’s, nearly 1,200 oil derricks filled the city, with a high concentration in one square block that became known as the World’s Richest Acre. The town was gushing with so much oil that they actually drilled a well right through the terrazzo floor of Kilgore National Bank!
Experience this part of Kilgore’s colorful past with a walk through the East Texas Oil Museum, then visit the World’s Richest Acre Park to see Kilgore’s one original and 12 restored oil derricks. For a change of pace, discover the distinguished history of the legendary Rangerettes at the Rangerette Showcase and Museum. Then immerse yourself in the golden age of television broadcasting at the Texas Museum of Broadcasting & Communications, featuring working TV and radio studios, vintage equipment, and a 1949 Dumont Telecruiser. Finally, if you’re in Kilgore in July, don’t miss the Texas Shakespeare Festival. Each summer, professional actors travel from across the country to Kilgore to perform Shakespeare’s plays and other favorite classics.
The Christmas season is a popular time to visit Kilgore, as well. They do it up big for this magical time of the year when they light the stars that grace the top of the oil derricks during Christmas Under the Stars, from mid-November through mid-December. Attend the Christmas parade, take the impressive tour of homes, and watch the Rangerettes Christmas Show. During the Snowhill Festival, you can actually tube down a snowy Mount Kilgore even if it hasn’t snowed around the rest of East Texas. Rumor has it that Santa and Mrs. Claus just may make an appearance.
Experience Kilgore’s charm, its variety of restaurants and memorable events, and the friendly faces that welcome you into this one-of-a-kind town.
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