(Orange, Texas)

August 17, 2013

Orangefield celebrates centennial of oil discovery

Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader

ORANGEFIELD — This small Orange County community will celebrate its history with a special event on Saturday.

The Orangefield Oil Field Centennial Celebration will take place Saturday, Aug. 17, with an array of events starting in the afternoon, including free tours of the Orangefield Cormier museum and the official dedication of the State Historical Marker, to live music and a dazzling fireworks display at dark.

“This is an event for all of Orange County, not just for Orangefield,” said Harvey Wilson of the Orangefield Cormier Museum organization. “We want everyone to come out and enjoy the festivities.”

Saturday’s event commemorates the discovery of oil in Orange County approximately 100 years ago. According to Wilson, oil was discovered at approximately 8:05 p.m., Aug. 21, 1913 at the well operated by the Rio Bravo Oil Company and local entrepreneur, Joshua Bland.

“Mr. Bland had been looking for oil in that area since 1903,” Wilson said. “He believed oil was there because he had seen many of the signs associated with oil, like sulfur being present and other gases.

“They drilled down to about 1,900 feet in 1903 and 1904 but never found oil, so they decided to give up on that site,” he explained. “They expected to find oil a lot sooner because the wells at Spindletop in Beaumont were very shallow.”

Years went by and oil was still escaping the grasp of Bland, but, according to Wilson, he struck up a partnership with the Rio Bravo Oil Company in 1913 in hopes of making the discovery of a life-time.

“Bland really believed there was oil there, somewhere, so the plan was to drill deeper than they had before,” Wilson continued. “And they did, but they still couldn’t find the oil. They had reached a depth of about 2,800 feet and were ready to give up, but they didn’t. They decided to drill a little deeper and struck oil right after making 3,200 feet.”

The discovery of oil in 1913 was just the beginning, according to Wilson.

“It was slow going until 1921, when the Oscar-Chessom Lease produced with a well that was putting out hundreds of barrels of oil each day. That’s when it all really went wild.”

Known as the Orange oil field, and eventually Orangefield, the community consisted of numerous oil workers and their families. If oil had not be discovered when it was, would Orangefield be as it is today?

“Oil would have been found somewhere, someway, in this area eventually,” Wilson said. “I don’t know if Orangefield would exist without the discovery of the oil when they did, but, fortunately, they did and it does. It’s amazing to know how this all came about.”

The official dedication of the State Historical Marker will be held at 5 p.m. Live entertainment will be part of Saturday’s festivities as well with performances from Fire and Rain at approximately 5:45 p.m., followed by local country music group BB and Company, featuring Britt Godwin and Bubba Moore, at 7 p.m., Saturday. This will be followed by a fireworks display at dark.

Food will be available with barbecue plates on sale for $8, plus tasty treats such as popcorn and snowcones will be offered.

Children are encouraged to wear appropriate attire on Saturday to be able to enjoy many fun activities, including water slide, a petting zoo, an obstacle course and more.

For more information on Saturday’s event or the Orangefield Cormier Museum, visit