Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Million Gallon Oil Reservoir

We looked at the roadsideamerica.com website to see what we could find to see around the Fort Stockton, Texas area. We found this "attraction" called the Million Barrel Museum in Monahans, Texas.  Built in 1928, the tank was designed to hold over a million barrels of crude oil.

Great aerial view from the 30's. This one has the boat ramp that was added later after the failed attempt to make a lake out of it. It leaked also.

The enormous walls make up the tank that took men and pack mules to create. The mules hauled wood and cement to the site and the men worked around the clock for 90 days to construct the huge vessel in 1928.

That was when oil first was discovered in West Texas and was flowing about 500 barrels daily. "You didn't have pipelines or tanks, and you had this great bonanza out at Wink," Heath said. "Shell was trying to find a place to put the oil, so they just dug this big hole in the ground."

After soil was brought to the site from surrounding areas, it was packed into tall earthen walls, covered with concrete and reinforced with wire mesh. A domed roof, supported by posts soaked in creosote, a pungent wood preservative, and spaced 14 feet apart, a roof was then added and waterproofed with tarpaper.

The tank measures 522 feet across the floor from north to south, and 425 feet across the floor from east to west.  Its capacity is more than five million, although only one million barrels were ever stored there.

Crude oil stored in the tank was shipped to Oklahoma to be refined.

What they (Shell officials) found out was that it was a good idea but it didn't work.  There was too much evaporation." Heath explained. "And, when they laid the cement, they laid it in sections, so it made seams all around. They didn't have caulking like we have today, so some oil seeped. between the seepage and the evaporation, they lost a lot."

When the Depression hit in 1929, Shell pumped oil out of tank, then dismantled it in the 1930s and eventually abandoned it.


..typed in the address in my GPS and it directed me to this location. Not much to see from the road...passed a couple of run down deserted motels and began to wonder..."are we at the right spot"?.

But, here's the sign so in we turned. Good thing we kept going to the Museum as the entrance was kind of sketchy. A very nice lady came out of the house and asked if we would like to have a personal tour. We said "Yes", so off we went.

This was much more than we expected. What we thought would happen is...drive up, look at the reservoir, take photos...move on. BUT....this was a great experience.

The next owners wanted to create a lake so he knocked down part of the wall and built this boat ramp.

...walked down to the middle to get Kim to take a photo to show how large it is.

...still walking...

This is the scrapper that dug the soil to make the walls with mules...in 90 days!

waaaaaay down...between the two towers is Steven ...that's how large this reservoir is.!

The original concrete floor had only 4" of concrete! ...to hold a million barrels of oil....bad engineering.

The first building she took us to was filled with old memorabilia. Nice stuff.

Hand mad model of a working oil pump.

This piano is one of only two in existence...the other is in Israel.

The old fashioned post boxes.

The remodeled house...which used to be a three-bedroom boarding house for train passengers...was Kim's favorite spot on the tour.

This is a chair for sitting and....

...a table for kitchen use....VERY clever.

Wonderful wallpaper throughout the house.

Kim wanted to sneak this out when the tour guide wasn't looking.

More great wallpaper

This was before rolled wheeled airline baggage.

Notice how the light cover matched the wallpaper. Professionally matched.

This house was moved from about a mile west so this was not their view when guests stayed here.


A caboose...the insides were just like it used to be and the railroad car was a railroad mini-museum inside.

A "flower bed" on the grounds....clever.

Lastly...there is a cabin/building that houses an extensive Coca-Cola collection that was donated to the museum. One of the best I've ever seen.

All in all, much more than we anticipated. Reservoir, memorabilia house, remodeled train boarder house, two railroad cars, Coca-Cola museum, a jail with farm implements (I did not show that one)....

Great, great tour....well worth our time to swing by.




Kim and Steve

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