The lads who were fellows and lecturers in the 1920s loved to take excursions. When I first ran across this page in a scrapbook from that era (the same one that blessed us with “The Great Overall Fad of 1920”) I was curious about why these fun loving guys would head off to visit such a muddy and godforsaken looking town. (By the way, I’ve written before about two of the four travelers, Norman Ricker and Henry O. Nicholas.)
The next page cleared it up for me. Blue Ridge wasn’t so much a town (although there was indeed a ragged little town in the vicinity) as it was an oil field, and a big one discovered by Gulf in 1919:
They also visited the Pierce Junction field, which was quite a bit closer to Rice, roughly where the Astrodome was later built. You could actually see it from campus if you got up on top of a building. It was also a big find and it was brand new in 1921:
The Pierce Junction field must have been the source of the oilfield flares and fires that I recall seeing east of South Main near Willlowbend. Lots of pump jacks visible from Main too, including one about where the Astrodome was built.
Pierce Junction, the location rather than the oilfield, was near where the Houston Tap RR met the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos. and Colorado RR about 1850. Houston built the Tap to carry goods to Houston’s warehouses near the bayou (including those of W. M. Rice.) This gave Houston a significant commercial advantage (shorter distance to kess expensive water transportation) over rival Harrisburg, hastening the latter’s demise. Ironically, BBB&C was conceived and developed by Harrisburg. The Tap became part of Houston Tap and Brazoria Railway before the Civil War
At my age the only thing I’ve ever seen was oil derricks built out of steel but when I look at old pictures like the ones shown they all look like like wood. Were oil derricks made out of wood at that time? I was born and raised in Dayton,Texas and we had a lot of oil fields around in our area.
Guidebook, Field Trip Routes, Oil Fields, Geology, 1953
Blue Ridge Field: Fort Bend County, Texas