Dismantling of iconic oil derrick underway in Kilgore

Dismantling of iconic oil derrick underway in Kilgore

KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - The process has begun. The ninety foot oil derrick that marks the East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore is coming down. Kilgore College officials decided to expedite the removal of the derrick damaged in a recent storm since more storms are coming, and there may have been another shift in the derrick.

Kilgore College Administration, including Vice President of Administrative Services Fred Gore were discussing their next step with the bent oil museum derrick recently when:

“We saw that there had been further movement in the structure,” Gore revealed.

They elected to set up the tear down, but they found the derrick needed help and they had to:

“Weld some additional steel in place so that when the structure is picked up it will stay in one piece,” Gore said.

They can’t just throw a bunch of cables up there and pull it down; it’s a meticulous, thought out process according to KK Mobbs Construction’s Nate Mobbs.

“We’re going to take it down piece by piece just to preserve, as much as we can, all the antiques around it and also where we don’t get into the building."
Nate Mobbs, KK Mobbs Construction

“We’re going to take it down piece by piece just to preserve, as much as we can, all the antiques around it and also where we don’t get into the building,” Mobbs said.

They want to take their time, but:

“With the storm coming in that was part of the urgency to go ahead and get the weight off of it; get started on it,” Mobbs explained.

But to get weight off, they had to put a little on in the form of struts to shore it up. They had a little excitement about 40 feet up.

“A lot of snakes will come up there and some other things, to get into the bird’s nests,” Mobbs said.

And, yes there was a rat snake up there. After some discussion it was relocated in the woods. Then the wood attached to the steel frame had to go.

WEBXTRA: Large snake surprises crew working to dismantle Kilgore oil derrick

“We’re just going to have to start cutting board by board. Each board comes down one at a time,” Mobbs said.

The derrick will be supported by a crane while they cut it apart from the bottom up. But first they have to:

“Get everything out of the middle of it so we can start taking down the other sides and lower it down slowly,” Mobbs explained.

But the first thing to come down happened earlier in the day when they took the star off the top of the derrick. It had its place in the skies above Kilgore for forty years. For now at least, the star is grounded.

Fred Gore tells us the derrick may not be down by Wednesday, but the construction company plans on leaving it attached to the crane which will support its weight if wind picks up.

East Texas Oil Museum's iconic, wooden oil derrick to come down. It was damaged when strong storms hit Kilgore in March. (Jamey Boyum/KLTV Multimedia Journalist)
East Texas Oil Museum's iconic, wooden oil derrick to come down. It was damaged when strong storms hit Kilgore in March. (Jamey Boyum/KLTV Multimedia Journalist)

The derrick has stood since 1980. It was built as a replica of the first wooden derricks used during the oil boom of the 1930′s.

Oil Museum Manager Olivia Moore said although she’s not from East Texas, she was familiar with the museum before she moved here. She’s saddened by the news, but she understands why the derrick needs to be taken down.

Kilgore College is open for suggestions from the public about what should be put in front of the Oil Museum. If you have an idea, contact the museum at (903) 983-8295 or email omoore@kilgore.edu.

WEBXTRA: Welders reinforce oil derrick to make it more stable before dismantling

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