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Friday, June 10, 2011

Sugar Land's Humble Camp

The Humble Camp was a small community run by the Humble Oil Company. It had production & pipeline units. I always thought the production unit was very small because there weren't many wells on the Sugar Land side of the Brazos River, but based on photos I've found, I could be wrong.

The pipeline connected with sizable fields on Thompson's side of the Brazos & transported the collected oil northeastward toward the Baytown refinery complex.

Virtually all large, vertically-integrated oil companies in Texas had camps dotting their pipelines & oil fields. They were small company towns in many cases. The Sugar Land camp didn't have commercial enterprises (I believe I'm right about that), so it wasn't exactly a company town like Sugar Land, but it was a tight-knit community sustained & managed by Humble Oil Company.

My maternal grandfather, H. A. Rachuig, was head of the pipeline section of the camp, so my mother & her sister grew up out there. I've had a little difficulty in pinpointing its exact location in what is now First Colony. Oil Field Road ran from Highway 6 to the Camp in the old days. Now it's just a short street in First Colony. My best guess is that the camp sat somewhere near Manor Road. My brother has found the exact spot & taken pictures of it, which I've included in the photo album below.

(Update) My aunt, Mayme Rachuig Hause, took the modern pictures that appear in the online album. Bruce sent me this map which shows the location of the Camp in present-day First Colony.

Some of the pictures are low-resolution & a little blurry, but they'll give you an idea of life out at the Humble Camp. You'll see family snapshots of the Camp, plus photos I've found of the Sugar Land Oil Field taken in the late 1920s.

Unfortunately, the Web site where I found these photos is no longer in operation, so I can't give a lot of detail about what they show. I recall reading that Sugarland Industries leased its River bottom land for exploration, but little came of it. Maybe I can find out more with further research.
(Update) My brother Bruce found this reference in The Handbook of Texas. It offers some interesting history on the Sugar Land Oil Field. After reading it I'm uncertain if the photos show Cockburn's exploratory drilling in 1927 or Humble's producing field. It's possible/probable they show both. The photo of the River bank could be an early photo of Cockburn's exploration. He doesn't appear in my notes, but a man named Nelson does. He either worked for Cockburn during exploratory drilling or Humble as they put the field in production. (I hope I can find the Web site where I found these photos.)

Link to entry in The Handbook of Texas

The album ends with a few pictures Bruce took of the remnants of the Camp in present-day First Colony.

Link to photo album of Humble Camp