Some More History Briefs
· The Foreign-Born Miners' Role in Thurber
· The Italian Presence in Thurber
· Thurber 1921---Lockout or a Strike?
· Some Misperceptions of Thurber
· The Hills of Thurber

Thurber (located midway between Fort Worth and Abilene on Interstate 20) was a company owned town, founded and controlled from around 1888 through the 1930's by Texas and Pacific Coal Co. (after 1933, Texas Pacific Oil Company). At its height, it was the largest town between Fort Worth and El Paso. Every building and inch of ground was owned 100% by Texas and Pacific Coal Co. Every resident lived in a company house, shopped at company stores, drank at the company saloon, attended a company school, danced at the company opera house, and worshiped in company churches.


1. Coal
Thurber was the most important mine site in Texas for 30 years. 3,000 tons of coal were produced daily. This coal provided fuel mainly for the Texas and Pacific Railroad, but a dozen other RRs also used Thurber coal. By ensuring a plentiful coal supply, Thurber helped railroads open up the great southwest.

2. Brick
Thurber had the best equipped brick plant west of the Mississippi. Manufactured from the area's rich deposits of shale clay, Thurber brick paved hundreds of miles of Texas highways and streets: Congress Avenue in Austin; the Galveston sea wall; the Bankhead Highway; Camp Bowie, Main Street, and the stock yards in Fort Worth, etc.

3. Oil
Thurber was headquarters of the Texas and Pacific Coal Company which, under the leadership and persistence of W. K. Gordon, brought in the McCleskey discovery well at Ranger (16 miles west) for the company. Troops in World War I, which had been at a standstill, were given the "go-ahead" when this news was received abroad, as Russia had cut off oil supply to the Allies. Ranger yielded in one year twice the wealth of the best years in the California and Klondike gold fields. It was the key that opened the door to West Texas oil production and made the University of Texas the richest university in North America. Every Thurber home had running water and electricity. In fact, Thurber was the first totally electrified city in the United States. A power plant was erected in 1895, as well as an ice plant with a 17 ton capacity, the largest ice plant in the southwest. By 1915, each home also had natural gas for heat.


4. Labor Unions
The Thurber coal miners' strike of 1903, which ended when a contract was signed by John L Lewis and Edgar L. Marston (for Texas & Pacific) in the old Worth Hotel in Fort Worth, was the beginning of the labor movement in the southwest. Thurber became the only totally unionized town in the world, and had two UMW Locals; the English Local and the Italian Local.

5. Ethnic Diversity
Hundreds of European immigrants, representing eighteen ethnic groups, began working as coal miners and brick makers. The priest at the Catholic Church heard confessions in six languages. Thurber was a "melting pan" for Eastern European immigrants, providing an interesting and colorful cultural and ethnic mix. OTHER FACTS Thurber was the site of the last regularly scheduled stage coach in America. It ran from the Hotel Knox to Thurber Junction (now Mingus, Texas). The Metropolitan Opera troupe stopped in Thurber en- route from the east coast to the west coast. (The Italians loved operas.) Famous voices were heard in the Thurber Opera House, where ceiling fans had been installed (a rarity at that time). The Opera House seated more than 650 people, and VIP's had their own box seats.