The Energy Industry
Oil was first discovered in 1919 and development of several commercial oilfields began. As oil camps sprang up, oilfield workers mostly from East Texas brought their families with them to live at the sites. New technologies were introduced and local landowning residents and business owners began to prosper from bountiful revenues.
Native Flora and Fauna
The plant life is made up of hardy sideoats gramma and blue stem grasses, black brush acacia, huisachillo, and coyotillo shrubs, and mesquite, huisache, coma, retama, ebony, yucca, anacahuita, and chapote (persimmon) trees, as well as numerous cacti consisting mostly of Opuntia, pitahaya, and other varieties of succulents typical of an arid climate with an annual average precipitation of twenty inches. The Museum grounds are a botanical garden planted with these native species that in time will represent a typical local habitat. The Museum’s exhibit area counts with a collection of preserved mammals and reptiles often seen in the surrounding woods and meadows.
Honoring the Military
At every historical juncture, significant contributions have been made to the military and citizens have served honorably and with distinction. In the Museum’s gallery, feats during the time of war by local men are amply documented from the Spanish Colonial period to the present. A collection of original uniforms, insignia, medals, and citations are presented for visitors to see and admire.
Religious Fervor, Faith, and Influence
Spanish colonists brought Catholicism to the area in 1750 bringing with them the icon of religious fervor at the time, Nuestra Señora del Refugio. The Museum has in its collection two original retablos from the 19th century using oil paint on tin medium featuring Nuestra Señora del Refugio and the image of Christ on St. Veronica’s kerchief. The sacred vessels from the church in Old Zapata are also preserved.
From Geological Development to the Human Imprint
Through Continental Drift and volcanism the region’s natural resources were formed to provide a securely prosperous future. The formation of oil and gas are explained in detail in text and through graphics making a connection to the exploration and production that took place eons later. The early inhabitants consisted of hunters and gatherers who left a legacy of arrowheads and camping grounds that explain their way of life. Spanish settlers in 1750 came to claim their land given by the king crossing the river with their belongings, supplies, and livestock utilizing ferries which remained in service until 1931. Soon thereafter, villages and towns grew and prospered.