Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tiffin, Texas and Thurber Earthen Products: 1920-1935

By Mary Adams


In 1918 Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company required crushed rock and other road-making materials for its use and for sale to others. According to a 1927 Dallas Morning News article, they found just what they needed “in the midst of acres of rocks that had never been disturbed by man and were regarded as worthless.” For at least a decade the company, through its new subsidiary, Thurber Earthen Products, converted this rugged, rocky terrain into a productive enterprise and put Tiffin, Texas, on the map.




Specimen of the first stock certificates issued for the newly formed Thurber Earthen Products Company.

Prior to 1919, Tiffin, located about three miles northeast of Ranger, was little more than a switch on the Texas and Pacific Railway. It is believed that the name Tiffin came from an Irish member of the railroad construction gang who in 1880 “designated the spot as the place for tiffin (lunch).” Though it was never a large town, it seemed to maintain a steady population of fifty-five during the years that Thurber Earthen Products remained in business.

Construction on the rock crushing plant, which included some of the most modern and efficient quarry equipment in Texas, began early in 1920. In a letter dated July 15, 1920, Mr. Marston, claimed the plant was nearing completion and reported that it had the capacity to produce one thousand tons of crushed rock per day and employ fifty men. The future of the company looked promising. It was reported that the quarry contained an inexhaustible supply of rock and that large orders for crushed stone awaited the opening of the plant.





Letter from Edgar L. Marston to Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company stockholders inviting them to invest in Thurber Earthen Products.

The plant met its production expectations during the first four years of operation. However, change was on the horizon as the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company expanded its oil production and reduced its coal production. The demand for crushed stone decreased in 1923 and continued to drop as the Great Depression took its toll on the economy. By 1933 when Thurber Earthen Products’ parent company prepared to close the town of Thurber and move its offices to Fort Worth, the outlook for Tiffin was grim. In that year Edgar Marston reported that the rock crusher operated for only thirty-nine days during 1932. The situation further deteriorated until April of 1935 when the rock crusher was sold as salvage for $15,000.00. Tiffin has now returned to what it once was, rough and rocky terrain that is little more than a switch on the railroad line.




Photograph of employees taken in front of the Thurber Earthen Products Company at Tiffin, Texas. The following men are thought to be pictured below though their placement is unknown: Adolofo _________, Aponio Baiza, Jose Camacho, Leonardio Jimenez, Cruz Martines, Miguel Martinez, Pablo Mendoza, Angela Renteria, Mr. Robles, Jose Ruiez, and Valintine Valdez.