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Exhibition Not an Ostrich: & Other Images from America's Library

Underwood & Underwood. “Where fortunes are made and lost overnight.” This is the famous oil town of Burkburnett, Texas. Beneath its surface lies one of the world's richest oil deposits. A forest of oil derricks that are all in operation, can be seen in every direction from the station in the foreground, 1920. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (63.00.00)

UNDERWOOD & UNDERWOOD. Where Fortunes are Made and Lost Overnight. Burkburnett, Texas, 1920

Although oil was found by Native Americans in Texas before the first Europeans arrived, the discovery of the Spindletop salt dome oil deposits in 1901 established Texas as a major oil producing state. Between 1911 and 1929, more discoveries were made throughout the state. The Burkburnett field opened in 1918, yielding a standing army of drilling towers extending to the horizon two years later.