Oil and railroads, what made Seagraves to the town it is today - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Oil and railroads, what made Seagraves to the town it is today


There are a lot of stories here in Seagraves, and many of them can be told through the pieces of history on display at the Seagraves-Loop Museum and Art Center. 

Other stories live in the hearts of longtime residents who can remember what used to live behind boarded up windows that once looked upon bustling streets.

"Seagraves was a thriving spot. I can remember in my childhood, stores staying open until seven on Saturday - you couldn't get up and down the street," said Dan Calfee, who serves as president of the Museum and Art Center.

Calfee is the perfect fit for this position, since some of his own family's belongings call this museum home. He has lived through much of the town's history and learned the rest through stories and memorabilia passed down by his mother

"She could remember riding on a horse over and watching them lay the track. She got to see it from the beginning," Calfee said. 

The Spearman Land Company of the Santa Fe Railroad helped establish Seagraves from 1916 to 1918.

"The railroad here and the oil boom just getting started in Yoakum County and some in Gaines County - all of the materials needed to develop the oil patch came through Seagraves on the rail," Calfee said.

He said that activity actually helped the city recover after a disaster.

"Seagraves had a fire in 1928 that burned the town except for this building, the hotel and maybe one or two others," Calfee said.

Debra Ford manages the hotel that survived that fire, a building that became a Texas historical landmark in 1991.

"The story they tell when the fire was going on, the piano that was in here...it was very heavy, but they got the piano out and saved it, knowing that the building might get lost. That's why we got this piano, to restore the heritage of that story," Ford said.

Calfee says in the 1970s things began to shut down. Plants closed and families moved out, but he said the town's story isn't over.

"But the last three or four years, the railroad has really promoted Seagraves as a hot spot. They have added miles of track and they are adding more," Calfee said.

It was this railroad that put Seagraves on the map nearly 100 years ago and it could be these tracks that bring new life to the city once again.

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