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Texas Lakes Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Corsicana


OIL FROM WATER

Named after the island of Corsica, Corsicana was established in 1848 to serve as the newly-formed Navarro County seat. Seven years later Corsicana had its own newspaper, the Prairie Blade. The community suffered setbacks much like many Texas communities during the Civil War and Reconstruction but managed to survive and then flourish thanks to the arrival of the railroad. By the 1870’s Corsicana served as leading trade and shipping center for the region. An oil boom added to its prosperity, triggered by an attempt to drill a community water well in 1894 that produced large amounts of oil and gas instead. By the turn of the 19th century Corsicana hosted hundreds of producing oil wells and the first oil refinery in the state. The petroleum prosperity built hotels, retail stores, and banks for the community. The boom also built thirty-five saloons, a concern of community residents that, at first, appeared to be resolved by the temperance movement. But bootleggers simply replaced saloon services, a practice not unfamiliar to enthusiasts of free market enterprise where supply (liquor) should meet demand (the significant population of oilfield workers). The prosperity also created a collection of prominent commercial buildings and homes and, today, Corsicana’s efforts to preserve and restore them has earned it Texas Main Street City status. A centerpiece is its Navarro County courthouse, a Beaux Arts beauty of granite and brick built in 1905, is currently being restored  through the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program.


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