Bob's Oil Well (Matador, Texas)

Terence Russell

Hillsboro, United States

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Artist's Description

Built of native stone and petrified wood, Bob’s was once as well-known to intersate truckers as South Dakota’s Wall Drugstore. Bob was WWI veteran Luther Bedford Robertson who opened the original station with a wooden derrick in the 1930s. Luther’s dedication and flair for promotion (being the only station for miles didn’t hurt) made his enterprise an outstanding success. He replaced the wooden derrick with a metal one and added a cafe, garage and grocery in the late 1930s.

“Bob” died in 1947 and while his widow attempted to keep it open, it closed in the 1950s. The station and cafe are currently undergoing restoration after being placed on the Texas endangered building list in 2004. A historical marker has been placed at the site and there are hopes of turning the old landmark into a visitor’s center and museum.

info from

More info from Preservation Texas

As a small part of the state’s once fl ourishing
roadside businesses, Bob’s Oil Well is a
landmark at the junction of two heavily traveled
highways in West Texas. Constructed in the
early 1930s by Bob Robertson, the tourist
destination and service center offered a pit of
writhing rattlesnakes, a small zoo with lion cubs,
a trucker’s diner, a family restaurant and service
station. Robertson provided a colorful and
entertaining rest stop in the otherwise lonesome
landscapes of the region. He persuaded
truckers to carry his advertising to great
distances where he announced the remaining
mileage to his station, such as “363 miles to
Bob’s Oil Well.” The exaggerated and oversized
oil derrick resting above the station attracted
the attention of travelers and became the most
recognized feature of the site. Several buildings
remain including the derrick and station and a
diner constructed of stone and petrified wood.

Texas Historical Marker data:
As can be seen from the photo, a Texas Historical Marker has been placed at the site and is referenced in Texas’ Most Endangered Places see at bottom of page

Saturday, October 22 [2004?]- A crowd of enthusiastic and in some cases teary-eyed supporters turned out today for the unveiling of the historic marker for Bob’s Oil Well.

Interesting back story. While setting up across the street a man in a pickup stopped and asked if we were from the TV station. After learning otherwise, he gave us plenty of info about the site, so much so, we had to excuse ourselves so as to get our way. My wife suspected he originally hoped we were from Texas Country Reporter and he would become a local star if he made the report!

in Texas

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