SOUTH ARKANSAS BEFORE THE BOOM
"KING COTTON" - Until the 1920s, south Arkansas relied primarily on an agricultural economy. The 1918 census reveals that over 80 percent of the people lived on farms.
"TIMBER" - The timber industry experienced enormous growth between 1870 and 1909. By the 1920s Arkansas was ranked sixth in U. S. lumber production.
"THEY CAME IN DROVES" - When oil was discovered in 1921, people came by the thousands to the oil fields. They packed into passenger cars, hung from the windows, rode the rails and perched precariously on car tops.
CENTER OF THE EARTH EXPERIENCE
This inside out experience shows the world's oil and brine fields.
A circular corridor, seemingly bored through layers of rock, represents exit from the earth's core to the surface. The oversized drill hole leads through the various geological strata beginning with the Louann Salt at 8,000 feet in depth and continues to the earth's surface.
ORIGIN OF PETROLEUM AND BRINE
The Organic Theory of oil formation is graphically presented in a series of exhibits including a Geologic Time Scale.
A focal point of this gallery is the fossil exhibition featuring specimens found in south Arkansas that date back thousands of years.
TWO HUNDRED MILLION YEAR VOYAGE IN TIME
UNDERSEA DIORAMA AND TIME VOYAGE - As the doors close and the lights dim, a voice-over explains that the visitor will voyage back in time, beginning on the bottom of the ancient Jurassic sea. This magnified view of ancient sea life exhibits the true creatures that led to the eventual formation of oil.
The ocean darkens and a diorama on the opposite wall comes into view. The time clock, now at the 1880s, still flashes forward through the Industrial Revolution era. The space comes alive with activity, engines roar, horns honk, tires screech . . .the age of the automobile is at hand. There is a sudden crashing sound! And . . . . .silence.
HISTORY AND NEED FOR OIL
DOORS OPEN AND THE VISITOR EXITS THE TIME MACHINE. THE TIME IS 1922. IT IS NIGHT.
One stands on the upper veranda of the Rogerson Hotel which faces Smackover's boom town street. Buildings are alive with the warm glow of street lights.
IT'S A GUSHER!
Having viewed the boom town street from the hotel balcony overlook in the previous gallery, visitors descend the curving stairs.
As they make their descent, they hear a distant rumbling sound slowly building in intensity. Men are shouting, "It's gonna' blow!" The yells continue as the rumbling builds to a crescendo until the gusher finally blows.
BOOM TOWN STREET
Two major buildings are on the right-hand side of the street: the Rogerson Hotel and the American Theater.
Attached to the hotel is a rough plank structure that simulates the entrance into Mrs. Murphy's Boarding House which proudly advertises that it has more cots and less mice.
Piano music spills from the open door of the theater which offers an audio-visual presentation focusing on the Arkansas petroleum industry.
Crossing the street over the toll plank, the visitor can view exhibits in the Smackover Journal newspaper office, the city jail, oil field supply store, and the Horseshoe Cafe.
Enter the back alley of the Boom Town Street either directly from the Discovery gallery or through the jail's back door, and see the Goat Woman's Circus Carriage
THE CHANGING INDUSTRY
Leaving the boom town street and entering the next gallery, one will be immediately drawn to a display of antique gas pumps and colorful signs as a backdrop.
OIL FIELD PARK
Located on five acres adjacent to the Education Center, the Oilfield Park includes seven operating examples of the oil producing methods used in the south Arkansas Oil Field from the 1920s through today.
*A 1920S STANDARD RIG WITH A 112' WOODEN DERRICK AND A BATTERY of wooden storage tanks.
*1920S-1930S 64' PIPE DERRICK AND GEAR DRIVEN PUMPING UNIT.
*1930S-1940S CENTRAL POWER STATION.
*1930S "GIN POLE" DERRICK AND OKLAHOMA PUMP JACK.
*1930S-1940S 87' ANGLE IRON DERRICK WITH PENNSYLVANIA-TYPE PUMP JACK.
*MODERN PRODUCTION UNIT.
The circuses, carnivals, chautauquas and traveling shows provided welcome entertainment for oil producing communities like Smackover. Meet Rhene Salome Miller Meyers (The Goat Woman), Smackover's most illustrious and interesting character.
FAMILY LIFE IN OIL FIELD CAMPS
Over fifty major oil company camps were located within the Smackover oil field. This vast community formed the backbone of south Arkansas oil industry from the 1920s-1950s.
OIL FIELD STORAGE AND TRANSPORTATION
Thousands of steel tanks and vast earthern storage pits were utilized to store the enormous amounts of oil being produced from the Smackover oil field.
Watch a typical drilling operation in progress and take control of your own destiny by actually drilling for oil! Who knows? You might even become a millionaire!
The Beginnings of Brine
Bromine Facts and Elements
Pipe Sculpture Showing Some of the Uses of Bromine
Interactive Showing the Use of Bromine in Pesticides
Bromine Was First Used In Ancient Times for Purple Dye and Later for Developing Photographs
The Museum's Conclusion Gallery Gives a Recap of the History of the Oil Boom, the Exhibits You Have Seen in the Museum and the Future of Arkansas' Natural Resources.
Education Frameworks for this Exhibit