photo of Million Barrel Tank
This is the overall View of the Million Barrel Oil Tank at the Museum in Monahans Texas. Built by mule team and man in 1928; used 2 years; and then abandoned.

Unique in the construction field is the Million-Barrel Oil Tank at Monahans. The Tank, which resembles a Coliseum-like Athletic Bowl from the air, measures 522 feet from North to South across the floor and 425 feet from East to West. The concrete floor is enclosed by an elliptical wall of concrete with walls slanted at a 45 degree angle and rising to a height of 35 feet.

The Tank was built by Shell Oil Company in 1928 when the Hendricks field was flowing wild and storage capacity for crude oil was badly needed. Work on the Tank was done by men, mules and wagons working around the clock. After the soil from the surrounding area had been brought to the site it was packed into tall earthen walls, the floor and the sides were covered with concrete reinforced with wire mesh. The whole structure was timbered with supporting posts soaked in creosote and spaced fourteen feet apart. They held up a domed roof, which was covered with wood and then tarpaper to make it waterproof. Construction was completed in 90 days. Since Monahans had insufficient housing for the men who built the Million-Barrel Oil Tank, a tent city rose at the work site southeast of town.

Oil stored in the Tank was shipped to Oklahoma for refining. Shell abandoned the Tank when Hendricks production declined to the point where the output could be handled by existing pipelines. Wayne Long of Monahans later acquired the Tank and the land around it. Efforts to make a playground of the big Tank failed when an abortive attempt was made to create a lake out of the Tank. The Tank still remains on the eastern edge of Monahans, a monument to the "mound builders" of the Oil boom.

Updated: 02/08/2003