National Geographic : 1945 Feb
The Yield of Texas BY FREDERICK SIMPICH H OW we depend on Texas for things to eat and wear, to work and fight with! From Rio Grande Delta in the last shipping season came more than 57,000 car loads of fruit and vegetables. From elsewhere in the State came train loads of cotton and wool for clothing, uni forms, and tents. To haul the State's 1944 oil output of nearly 2,000,000 barrels a day would take a railroad train 33,570 miles long! "Next to oil, meat is our biggest industry," says the cattleman. "We've got more than 21,000,000 meat-bearing animals. If all these were rolled into one big bovine, it might jump the Mississippi as easily as a lamb jumps a ditch!" From Spanish times through leisurely gen erations Texas was one vast cow ranch and farming country. After 1910, oil began to change that; by 1918, oil was a big business. By World War II Texas saw the rise of gigantic factories, based on oil and natural gas, making everything from TNT and high octane fuel to synthetic rubber and magne sium from sea water. Taking an Inventory of Texas No boom in our history has been speedier than the changes now sweeping Texas. But "boom" is not a word Texans like for what is happening. Actually, there is no big rise in land prices, no speculation in the shares of new industries. Texans say much of this industrial upheaval, though acceler ated by war, was due anyway, owing to pent-up needs. But, first, a simple inventory of Texas. Nearly all our helium and carbon black, most of our sulphur and trainloads of syn thetic rubber, and worlds of toluene, buta diene, sulphuric acid, caustic soda, magnesium, and high-octane gasoline now all come from Texas. Here is our chief source of natural gas. In cotton growing Texas still leads, and from here come much rice, corn, and wheat, as well as millions of cattle, sheep, and goats, and thousands of manufactured things used by Army and Navy. Without certain things that Texas yields, * See "QM, the Fighting Storekeeper," by Frederick Simpich, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, Novem ber, 1942. t See "Today's World Turns on Oil," by Frederick Simpich, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, June, 1941. especially gasoline, lubricating oils, and ex plosives, we couldn't keep this war going. You can walk 40 miles among piles of Army supplies in the QM depots at San Antonio and Fort Worth, and still glimpse only a bit of all the 12,000 classes of goods stored here.* "That big shed there holds enough Texas made mattresses to furnish 100,000 average American homes," said Col. W. L. Bartley, the Quartermaster at Fort Worth. "Much of the stuff we carry is made in Texas, including uni forms, furniture, tents, prepared foods, soap, paints, and chemicals, refrigeration equip ment, paper, etc." More soldiers are trained here than in any other State. Of course Texas is big. To cross the State from east to west you have to ride some 765 miles. Also, the State's map spot helps it. Lying halfway between two oceans, it offers the shelter of an inland area, but has easy access to Atlantic waters via its Gulf of Mexico ports (map, pages 168-9). Today our national economy is linked with Texas by the rise here of so many unex pected new industries. In parts of east Texas this upsurge changes the whole way of life. Stuart McGregor, editor of the Dallas News, says more than 400,000 Texans have left their farms or small town homes to take jobs in shipyards, re fineries, ordnance, chemical, and airplane works; in tin smelters, steel, meat packing, and synthetic rubber plants, or in the hun dreds of smaller factories. Texas' Oil Tops Everything Else Acre for acre, Texas is still primarily a farm and ranch country. But, dollar for dollar, oil is above every thing. Refining is the State's biggest busi ness. Texas now produces 78 percent as much crude oil as the rest of the world put together, exclusive of the United States.t In peace days most oil moved from Texas Gulf ports by ocean-going tankers. War slowed this down; now the bulk rides out by rail or flows through pipe lines (page 165). Within Texas borders lie about 35,500 miles of pipe lines for crude oil and some 12,500 miles of gas lines. The famous "Big Inch," or 24-inch giant, runs from Longview to Philadelphia and New York. It is about 1,363 miles long, and delivers 300,000 barrels a day.