from This Was Ellis County
A publication of the Junior Historians,
Waxahachie High School, 1980
Texas Oil Products of WaxahachieBy Julie Tucker
Waxahachie became a part of the Texas oil industry when it obtained a large industrial plant, which was expected to become the single largest industry in town. The Texas Oil Products Company chose Waxahachie as the site of its new oil refinery.
The site of this oil refinery, located about 1,000 feet outside the city limits in western Waxahachie, was chosen because of several advantages it offered. This-location was situated near "abundant and permanent" supplies of oil in several directions from Waxahachie. Also passing through the city, to add to its advantages, was the eight-inch pipeline of the Magnolia Petroleum Company, which connected the Electra Oil Fields with Beaumont and another pipeline of the Texas, Company that connected Bartlesville, Oklahoma, with Port Arthur. Another advantage from this location was its nearness to several large city markets. Three rail lines -M. K. & T., the Trinity and Brazos Valley, and the Houston and Texas Central- helped to make Waxahachie an attractive refinery site from the standpoint of receiving raw material and sending finished products to markets. Fifty percent of the Texas population existed within a 100-mile radius of Waxahachie at that time. Waxahachie could also provide an abundant labor supply for the Texas Oil Products Company. The local site also was in a place where, if needed, expansion could be made with ease.
Texas Oil Products Company Oil Refinery, Waxahachie, TX, 1921.
Located north of Highway 287 business and east of the present railroad
underpass. The top photo is a view looking northeast while the bottom
photo is looking northwest.
Company plans, when construction was completed, called for the refinery to be able to refine 3,000 barrels of raw materials each day. This refinery was built on the unit system. The first unit capacity was designed to be about 500 barrels of raw material daily. After this unit began operating, other units were to be constructed until the whole refinery was completed.
During the early stages of construction, eight buildings were added at the refinery site and much equipment was installed. These units were built by the Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company to house the first unit of the refinery. The buildings were constructed with heavy steel framework with steel roofing and siding. All doors and windows were of steel also. The foundation and floors were constructed of concrete; thereby making the buildings fireproof. At the time, officials had planned for the office building to be of brick and concrete construction. This office building was to be large enough to house the executives and clerical help as well as the plant laboratory. Though the executive offices of the company remained in Detroit, Michigan, the southern office was moved to Waxahachie.
The Wyatt Metal and Boiler Works of Dallas erected the oil storage tanks. The main storage tanks were located to the east pf the refinery units and several smaller tanks were located along the Midlothian Pike. There were four 5,000-barrel tanks under construction and the first 100,000-barrel tank was almost completed. The tanks along the pike were of 1,250-barrel capacity.
Texas Oil Products Company set up its own water supply with the construction of a 30,000 gallon elevated tank which supplied water pressure for refinery work and fire protection. Water was pumped to this tank from springs located on company-owned land on Mustang Creek. The company, reported the "Waxahachie Daily Light," was laying six and four-inch pipe from the pump station at the springs to the elevated tank and from there throughout the plant. The plant was also supplied with city water. The company built a water reservoir on McCartney Branch at the western end of the refinery property. This reservoir was 100 feet wide, 180 feet long and six feet deep (later Crystal Plunge). A nearby pump was capable of supplying 500 gallons of water per minute to the refinery.
The refinery was drained by a sewer system where all wastewater and oil were drained into a ditch along the Midlothian Pike. There was a concrete oil separator to be built near the reservoir and oil would be pumped back for use in the plant and the water would be directed to the reservoir to be stored until it was needed.
This plant, considered to be one of the best laid out in the country, was planned by C. M. Alexander of the Rostaph Engineering Corporation. George Buckingham directed the construction work along with Herbert L. St. John, engineer for the Texas Oil Products Company. In the construction of this refinery the company entered into more than 30 separate contracts, with definite time limits as to materials and labor. In addition to Buckingham and St. John, C. M. Alexander, V. M. Chatfield and J. B. Goss were engineers who aided in the construction supervision. All of these engineers moved their families to Waxahachie for the project.
A sufficient supply of raw crude oil was assured when the company entered into an agreement through Arnold H. Goss, president of the Plateau Oil Company "for all such supply of raw material as may, from time to time, be required for use in connection with the refinery in Waxahachie." Plateau Oil Company's production included wells in Breckinridge, Texas.
This refinery existed for a number of years and was considered a model refinery, one of the best planned in the nation. Old-timers say that because of legal difficulties concerning pollution of streams and the air, the company decided to close the refinery and it was dismantled with some of the equipment being sold as junk.
This new industry came in 1920 and 1921 -a great expectation to usher in the "Roaring Twenties" in Waxahachie.