Once oil was discovered at Spindletop (Beaumont, Texas) in 1901, 'wildcatters' spread out over the whole area looking for more 'black gold' and other discoveries began to gush in from Evangeline to Sour Lake.  During my decade in the oil spill business, I had the opportunity to enter private land one day and came upon a little cement pyramid about 5 feet tall that marked the first producing well of the Texas Company at Sour Lake.

One of the other thing Sour Lake was famous for was its warm water sulfur ponds - Franklin Roosevelt used to travel to Sour Lake to soak his polio-stricken legs in the waters.  Later he opted for a shorter trip to Warm Springs, Ga.  Point is the presence of sulfur brought the wildcatters to the area where they did in fact discover oil.

Getty Images

The Texas Company built a pipeline to the coast, Port Arthur, where they set up a refinery and word went out far and wide about the jobs as the new refinery needed workers.  My grandfather a deputy with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriffs Office decided the good pay was worth the risk and headed to Port Arthur to help build the refinery and was one of the first group hired.  Texas Tea provided jobs for the entire region, and though it wasn't a quick trip down I-10, people from all over the region swarmed to the area.

Black Gold is still paying.  The original Texas Company plant turned into Texaco, and some 25 or 30 years ago changed again to Motiva, owned now by Saudi Aramco.  There are similar stories around Lake Charles with regard to the Continental Oil Company and Cities Service refinery's.

All through the years as the demand grew, the refineries and jobs grew and the growth hasn't ended but in fact in Port Arthur is on the march again.  Just like in 1903 when investors poured money into the the original refinery, last week Aramco announced a further $12 Billion dollar investment in the refinery, already the worlds largest.

And that means more jobs and a sold future for the region.  For starters some 2,600 construction jobs to ensure continued employment of the regions iron-workers and such once lake area projects are finished.  Continued demand for all the peripheral services supplies and tools needed - hotels full, RV parks under high demand, and lots of lunches and dinners.

I always loved the oil business, every aspect of it.  One thing I learned in my decade in the environmental business, is there's no shortage of crude - the earth is continually making more.

Black Gold, still paying.