Pipelines and Urban Expansion

Along with railroads, oil pipelines provided the Permian Basin economic links to a broader industrial network. Business leaders in the region advocated strongly for them in the local press and campaigned for local office on platforms promising increased infrastructure improvements. During WWII federal funding significant expanded this network.  The map below overlays a variety of historical maps to demonstrate the size and intricacy of twentieth century oil pipelines against a growing network of roads. While some pipelines followed the existing road network. Many often did not, creating intricate subterranean networks below unpopulated and extremely rural portions of West Texas and New Mexico.



After World War II, the cities of Midland and Odessa quickly became centers of commerce and industrial development. Increasingly, most people in the region lived in and around these two cities and traveled to temporary job sites in the surrounding counties. Aerial maps of both cities demonstrate population growth, and the expansion of oil exploration.

Many of the transplants to Midland were white collar oil contractors – surveyors, map makers, geologists, engineers, and landmen. This new college-educated population set up offices in Midland. The wealthiest rented space in the growing cluster of skycrapers in Midland’s downtown. This population moved into homes in newly-built suburbs to the north and west of the city center. However, some transplants were less wealthy. Others were excluded from these business centers due to racial segregation laws.

Below is a preliminary map, done in Google Maps, that uses the 1955 Midland City Directory to pinpoint to location of Midland oil businesses. This map demonstrates the location of trailer parks and motels, as well as the city’s oil industrial corridors in relation to residential neighborhoods. This Others set up smaller offices in the city’s growing suburbs. Many located themselves along I-20 or the Garden City Highway southeast of town.


For a link to the work-in-progress map see: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1heBsQVhFJhtYSkHGXx7Eo8GQdE4&usp=sharing


The map below demonstrates Midland urban development over sixty years. Beginning in 1930s, the city of Midland became a hub for oil administration and transportation. The below map shows the original city limits along the Texas and Pacific railroad and demonstrates the city’s exponential growth. As the city grew, the number of pipelines below it also grew. By the 1950s, eight trunk lines converged under the city.


According to mid-century reports and oral histories, black and Latinx residents were confined to the southeastern edges of town. As the above map demonstrates, this neighborhood expanded north of the railroad tracks by 1960.


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