Original Boom Town Returns To East Texas Map

If you're not sure where Joinerville is, don't worry. It hasn't been on your maps for a while.

Barbara Barton graduated from Gaston High School in Joinerville, and she says she's heard from many other alumni since word got out the town was left off last year's maps.

"That's been on the minds of a lot of people ever since we really got started," she says, "because you get a map out and you couldn't find Joinerville."

The tiny community is just a spot on Highway 64 right now but once upon a time, it was much more. In October of 1930, the Daisy Bradford #3 well exploded with oil and made Joinerville the birthplace of the East Texas oilfield.

Barbara grew up in Joinerville, and runs the Gaston museum. She says it reminds her what it was like growing up in the first East Texas boom town.

"When the oil field came in and the tax money became abundant, they could do all sorts of things," Barbara says. "People came from every oil field in the United States and it's mind boggling for us to think of today."

In the 1930's and 1940's, the skyline was dotted with oil derricks and the town's roads were flooded with cars. People came and slept in tents to be part of the oil boom, and the school grew so rapidly they couldn't keep up.

Then in the fifties, the oil wells dried up and people began leaving. Now less than two hundred people live in Joinerville. The school that served Joinerville in the forties and fifties, the Gaston school, eventually merged with New London. That school system is what is now called West Rusk.

The glory days are behind them, but for one moment in American history, the town was vital.

"It carried approximately three hundred thousand barrels of crude oil a day that furnished the fuel for the boys in World War II," Barbara proudly explains. "That's an important part of history. I think it's our legacy that we step up to the plate and preserve what is left."

Now that they're back on the map, Joinerville's legacy is secure again.

   Reid Kerr (rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.