Kilgore, Texas: East Texas Oil MuseumTake the "elevator ride to the center of the earth," where marionettes teach you the geology of the oilfield.
Visitor Tips and News About East Texas Oil Museum
Make sure you go into the "movie theatre" and watch the show about oil. The end will make you jump![Jolynn, 09/24/2010]
A small, usually-empty museum with a heavy dose of kitsch and an even heftier one of TEXAS PRIDE. Kitsch highlight is definitely the "elevator ride to the center of the earth," which features hokey (and slightly-in-need-of-repair) marionettes teaching you about the geology of the oilfield.
There's also a life-size walk-through replica of part of Kilgore's main street as it appeared during the first winter of the oil boom - a time known as the Big Muddy because heavy rains turned the ground into several feet of sticky mud. The exhibit goes for realism - there's a donkey-cart stuck in the ground!
The shops and storefronts are all open to walk around in, providing a mix of "frozen history"-style museum lets (there's a dry goods store packed full of vintage clothing and accessories) and facades hiding other exhibits (the movie theater shows period film footage from the boom).
Docents are mostly elderly folk who actually lived through the time period in question and knew a lot of the people pictured in the old photographs and wall murals, which makes for an interesting tour.[Jennifer George, 02/13/2009]