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Arp Texas – Gasoline Alley in an Oil Boom Town

Arp, Texas, is actually a small city located in the east Texas one-hundred and ten miles southeast of the City of Dallas. The International-Great Northern Railroad came to Arp in the early-1870s, and the City became a shipping point for fruit and vegetable farmers in the area. In 1931 oil was discovered there, and the population increased from around five-hundred residents to over two-thousand almost overnight.

Today’s featured image is a view of the intersection of Main St. and a crossroad leading to other towns in the area. Of interest here is the men looking for work, and the hotbed of activity in the scene, the Arnold Garage, a Texaco filling station on the left-hand side of the image; the tire shop and repair garage is located behind it. Across the street from the Garage is a second filling station.

Please share with us what you find of interest in the enlargeable photograph via contributor Benjamin Ames.

15 responses to “Arp Texas – Gasoline Alley in an Oil Boom Town

  1. Well, the boom didn’t last long; by the end of the decade Arp’s population was down to about a thousand – pretty much where it is today. Looking at Google Earth street view, looks like downtown Arp has maybe half as many buildings today as it did in 1931.

  2. This photo reminds me of a movie I watched late one night on TCM. It was called “Lucy Gallant”, starring Charleton Heston and Jane Wyman. It took place in a fictional small Texas town in the late 30’s, just as oil was discovered. It looked just like this photo, until the big oil money came in, and completely transformed the town. I bet the same thing happened here, as most of these people became millionaires almost overnight.

  3. Theres still a lot of old wooden gas stations around here but they stopped selling gas eons ago.The Depression helped to preserve a lot of structures because lots of times nobody had the money to even tear something down,let alone build a replacement.

  4. Looks like everyone got the memo: We’re being photographed so white shirts are required; jacket and necktie optional. The two toned panel truck I believe is a 1931 Ford model AA deluxe panel with optional dual wheels. Others L-R are pre 1926 Model T coupe, 1928-1929 Model A Ford sport coupe; Model A coupe blur; 1926-1927 Model T coupe……….

  5. Neat picture! I am no expert in photography, but what catches my interest most I think is the blur. I do agree that it is likely a model A coupe. The amount of blurring indicates the car is moving a lot faster than anyone else in the picture. Must be doing about fifteen miles per hour there. The film had to be fairly slow acting, the only significant blurring anywhere else there is the man walking across the street behind the coupe. It looks like he may have a dog with him, but I cannot tell for sure. Everyone else seems to be fairly still for the duration.
    What I find most interesting, is how the coupe is shortened so much in the photo. It must be a simple “single plane” shutter, moving against the direction of the car (optically speaking). It captured the front of the car first, moved toward the back of the car as the car moved the other direction, thereby shortening the car across the time of a fraction of a second. Most common box cameras from the pre-teens till WWII used such shutters. With the camera turned 90 degrees (causing an up-down motion as opposed to sideways), causes the leaning forward effect often seen on action photographs of racing cars of the era.
    As mentioned above, the car behind the blurred coupe, is a model A Ford sport coupe. I can’t be sure, but I think it may be a ’28/’29. The car by the tire shop doors looks like a ’24/’25 model T coupe. The coupe first in line parked around the corner looks to be a ’26/’27 Ford T.
    In addition to a fair number of trucks, there a few other nice non-Ford cars to be seen. But not enough detail on most to venture a guess what they are.

  6. Have to respectfully disagree with a lot of the above. The absence of women and kids in the photo leads me to believe it is not Sunday or these folks are in town for the Carney. It actually looks like a typical small rural town one could find almost anywhere in the South/Midwest. The only thing I find disconcerting is there are no cowboy hats, though everyone has a chapeau of one sort or another, despite this being Texas. Someone mentioned job hunting and that may be a better explanation for the white shirts, a sign of some remnant of respectability in those years, and what better place to look for a job than the main cross-road.

  7. These days Arp is not the same bustliing town shown in the photo . But we do still have some old filliing stations in the area. I’ll try to get a picture to post.

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