Company Town: Two Faces of Thurber, TX

Thurber Texas Coal MiningBy 1915 Thurber, TX existed as the largest producer of coal in Texas. It supplied a dozen railways with coal, paved much of the state with brick, and was the largest city along Interstate 20 between Ft. Worth and El Paso. And every bit of the town (from scratching post to hitching post, from pew to crapper) was company owned by Texas and Pacific Coal Company.

Yet by the 1930’s Thurber was gone, and its success began to unravel during the winter of 1921-22. At their peak, company towns across the nation hosted 3% of the population. But were these towns a blight? or progressive beacons? Was Thurber a bastion of enlightened industrialist Paternalism or a cesspool of oppressive and monopolizing Capitalism?

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