McCleskey #1 100th Anniversary Celebration Planned for October

Photos by Terry Simmons

RANGER, TX – One Hundred years ago a major incident in Eastland County history set the stage for years to come. After a drought hit farmers in 1917, town leaders encouraged W.K. Gordon, vice president of the Texas and Pacific Coal Company in nearby Thurber, to explore for oil locally. Gordon’s second wildcatter, the McCleskey No. 1 well, blew in on October 17 flowing 1,700 barrels of high gravity oil per day. Ranger’s population swelled almost overnight from less than 1,000 to more than 30,000. The boom ended in 1921 when the wells dried up, but the Ranger discovery well opened the door to oil fields in West Texas.

To honor The Most Spectacular Boom of All the Ranger Historical Preservation Society will host numerous events beginning on Saturday, October 14, 2017. A parade and celebration Kick Off will begin at 2 p.m. followed by the Dedication of Historical Markers on the Ranger Historical Society’s portion of the original well site. Later that afternoon the 1st Cavalry Horse Detachment from Fort Hood will hold a demonstration at the Ranger Rodeo grounds prior to the Leon River Cowboy Church Youth Rodeo. On Sunday the Ranger Ministerial Alliance will host an event to be announced soon followed by a 5K run at 3 p.m.

Wednesday, October 18 will be an Education Day on the 38 acre well site. Many events to educate students on the importance of the discovery are being planned. All school districts are encouraged to bring students to learn the story of how this historical event built not only Ranger but many communities in Eastland County.

Other events during the week are in the works including a street dance on Friday evening on the bricks of the Bankhead Highway in front of the site. The celebration will close Saturday, October 21 with an all day festival with vendors, entertainment, Poker Run, Nashville’s own Johnny Counterfit and more. Counterfit will perform at 6 pm under the giant tent to close the weeklong celebration. Ranger Chamber of Commerce will also be sponsoring a dance at the Ranger Rodeo barn that evening.

Everyone is encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and enjoy all of the festivities planned all week. With the giant tent to be set up this event will be rain or shine so plan to come on out no matter the October weather! More details and schedule of events will be announced as they are finalized.

Attending the first organizational meeting held at LaFinca Restaurant in Ranger were: Janice Keith of Carbon, , Robert Fox of Olden, Leah Lambeth of Cisco, Terry Simmons of the City of Eastland, Joe Sigler, Troy Emery, Rita Charman, Jeane Pruett, Donna Thackerson and Helen Cozart all of the Ranger Historical Preservation Society.

The Next meeting will be held in conjunction with the RHPS’s regular meeting on August 21 at 6:30 p.m. at 1505 W Loop 254. If you are interested in helping plan this historical event, please contact Jeane Pruett at 254-647-3340.