A replica of Smackover's main street during the oil boom.
The lobby at the Museum of Natural Resources
It's a story with roots not far from the site of the Museum of Natural Resources.
Here you can get up close to the machinery and structures that once towered above the pines of southern Arkansas.
It all started on January 10 of 1921.
That's when a well called the Busey number one exploded into life, a plume of the black liquid spraying so high into the sky students at El Dorado High School could see it from the upstairs windows.
The museum tells the story of everything that happened next.
"You're on Smackover's Boomtown Street. And all of the buildings that are on this street were actual businesses during the south Arkansas oil boom," says Pam Beasley, the superintendent of the Museum of Natural Resources.
She says the oil boom changed everything in south Arkansas.
Small towns flooded with thousands of people in search of good paying jobs
Beasley explains, "You'll see here on the wall here we have a population of 93. And that's pretty close in Smackover, about 93 people. When oil hit in Smackover it went in just leaps and bounds, from 93 to a thousand to upwards of twenty five thousand."
During the boom days, Smackover was considered a pretty wild place. Even though it was the 1920's, in some parts of town people carried guns openly like the wild west. One citizens complained there was a murder or a shooting almost every night.
Citizens eventually formed bands of vigilantes - who cleaned up the lawlessness once and for all.
Only six months after the Busey number one came in - Arkansas produced almost a million barrels per month. Oil came up so fast they stored it in open pits until storage tanks could be built.
By the next year, 59 oil companies called El Dorado home - making more than a few fortunes.
Beasley says, "Lion Oil is still in operation in El Dorado today. It was started as El Dorado Natural Gas. And then a fellow by the name of T.H. Barton, if you know Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, that's the same fellow. But Col. Barton ran Lion Oil up until the 60's and he became a wealthy man.
There's a lot to learn at the museum - even the products you may not realize come from oil or its by products. The boom here was over in less than 10 years. And most folks moved on to the next boom.
But oil came to south Arkansas right when it was needed to keep this part of the country alive.
Beasley says, "Even during the depression, when times were hard in other parts of the state, we didn't suffer quite so bad here in south Arkansas because we had petroleum that was still being refined or being produced on a regular basis."
The Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover is where you can learn more about the boom of the 1920 - a piece of history that just might leave you Amazed By Arkansas.