Stories about Old Tampico
The Oil Boom in Tampico!

Photographs and Text by John Todd, Jr.

A Gusher!
The Oil Boom in Tampico
Some of you may have heard about those incredible times, rather like the fairy tale about King Midas. In Tampico it was called the Oil Boom.

Those were marvelous times of fantastic realities when oil was discovered in the Huasteca area around Tampico, and companies like La Huasteca, Pierce Oil Company, the Aguila Oil Company, Corona, and the Transcontinental Oil Company came to Tampico.

At least these were the most powerful and well known companies that began to spill dollars by the handfuls, renting land, and hiring people to go to work.

The news spread at lightning speed throughout the entire world that a new Promised Land had been found. It was a new El Dorado richer than King Solomon´s mines.

People began to arrive from all five continents.
Downtown Tampico in the Old Days
People Began to Arrive
And did they come! In ships, trains, not only in passenger cars, but in gondolas, on the rooftops of freight trains, and even on the front end of the locomotives.

The Chinese who came in abundance started laundries, restaurants, bakeries, and noodle factories.

No matter where you went, you were always running across foreigners: Americans, blacks, and of course men from all over Mexico.

They all came to work, and to earn Dollars.
La Plaza de la Libertad
The Most Serious Problem
The most serious problem for newcomers was in finding a place to stay, and new hotels like the Imperial, el Nuevo Mundo, Bristol, Royal, and Hotel del Puerto were built.

Lodging houses were improvised in the homes in Tampico, but they weren´t enough and people would sleep in the parks, patios, and other places where people would give you permission to stretch out your blanket.

From very early in the morning, foremen would be on the Plaza de la Libertad looking for people to work in the new oil fields with names like Ebano, El Reventadero, El Chijol, Cacalilao, San Manuel, Alamo, San Luciano, San Gerónimo, Cerro Azul, Naranjos, and Mata Redonda.

Elegant Downtown Buildings
The Men Came who Came to Build
The men who arrived in hopes of earning a lot of dollars which was the usual money, had never picked up a hammer in their hands, a saw, and much less a blow torch.

These men were in the hands of the foreign engineers and foremen who built the great refineries of El Aguila, Arbol Grande, and Mata Redonda.

They were the ones who built the huge tanks to store Oil (the author uses the word "chapopote" or tar instead of oil) which multiplied throughout the oil fields of the Huasteca.

They were the ones who also built the charming little American style "villages" that can still be seen today.

Those men cleared the land with machetes and opened ditches where they placed tubes that conducted rivers of black gold to the refineries.

Those men never stayed in one place. They signed up to work at whatever came along with the idea of making money. There were cooks, waiters, electricians, and even sailors.
Adios to the Boom
Power and Oil
The Companies were so powerful in those days! I wonder how many millionaires were made from one day to the next.

And the royalties were paid in Mexican gold when a well struck thousands of barrels of Tar!

"Adios" to the Boom
But the Expropriation came, and adios to royalties.

President Lázaro Cárdenas (in 1938) issued a decree that the subsoil belonged to the nation, and therefore all the oil now belonged to the Government.

And that was the end of the Boom in Tampico.

Requiescat in pace.

The Once Thriving Rail Road Station in Tampico

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