THE INDUSTRIAL TRIAD
The now ghost town of Thurber was once a thriving industrial center, specialized in the three supreme industries dominating the landscape around at the beginning of the 20th century: coal - used throughout manufacturing and the railroads to drive the engines, bricks - the building blocks of the new century, and oil - the liquid gold that would soon replace coal in almost every way. A company town, Thurber was established in 1886 and served as epicenter for these thriving industries, hosting mines and miners, brick kilns and brick makers, and oil fields and oil field workers. Today, the W.K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas, operated by Tarleton State University, is dedicated to preserving, documenting, and interpreting the industrial history of Texas and Thurber for the public. The Center provides a serious, academic environment for research as well as concise and compelling permanent exhibits on the development of coal, brick, and petroleum industries associated with Thurber. By the 1930s, many Thurber buildings and worker’s homes had been dismantled for reuse or moved to new locations. The former town site where several original buildings remain has received a National Register of Historic Places designation. A number of them, including a miner’s residence, the Catholic Church, and the original bandstand roof, have been relocated to the Center’s grounds courtesy of the Thurber Historical Association.