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Welcome to the W.K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas!

W.K. Gordon Center, Tarleton State University

The mission of the W.K. Gordon Center is to preserve, document, and research the industrial history of Thurber and the State of Texas and to interpret its influence on the people of Texas.

Our museum is located in Thurber, TX

Thurber was one of the most important mine sites in Texas, a major manufacturer of paving bricks, and located near the oil field that helped make Texas a worldwide giant in petroleum production.

The entire town of Thurber — every nail, shingle, and doorknob — was owned by the Texas and Pacific Coal Company. Residents lived in company houses, shopped at company stores, drank at company saloons, attended company schools, and worshipped in company-owned church buildings.

Many people traveled from far-away countries — including Italy, Poland, Ireland, and Russia — to live and work in Thurber. This immigrant influence helped create the unique, multi-cultural flavor of the community.

The Gordon Center offers a glimpse into another time and place. Hear stories about life in Thurber from the residents themselves. Examine informative exhibits featuring historic photos and fascinating artifacts. Watch motion film of Thurber residents at work and play. Stroll past reconstructions of the mercantile store, the livery stable, the town bandstand, the 655-seat opera house, and the Snake Saloon, which boasted one of the largest horseshoe-shaped bars in the country. Find out what happened when the discovery of oil disturbed the delicate balance between company and community.

The W. K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas, a research facility of Tarleton State University, is a combined museum and special collections library. Located at the site of the Thurber ghost town, its interactive exhibits explore the birth and death of a company town.

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