Texas is blessed with many natural resources that have long attracted people and businesses to convert these resources into useful items. In the Spanish colonial days, settlers planted and harvested sugar cane, then used chemical processing techniques to convert the cane to sugar and molasses. Early chemical manufacturing plants in Texas utilized minerals like limestone to make the cement used to bond bricks and stones into walls for buildings.
Then, in 1901, the great Spindletop oil well was discovered near Beaumont and the petroleum and petrochemical age began for Texas. Refineries soon followed to process the crude oil into fuels and lubricants.
The modern chemical industry in Texas began in a significant way at the onset of World War II. Large scale integrated factories were built to convert raw materials such as refined crude oil, natural gas and even seawater and salt into critical products necessary for the war effort, including magnesium for airplanes, synthetic rubber for tires and nylon for parachutes.
Rapid extension of the chemical industry followed World War II as the product focus turned from war materials to supplying an ever-growing host of items benefitting modern society. By the 1960's the chemical industry was established as a key element in the Texas economy and remains so today, resulting in hundreds of thousands of outstanding jobs, paying over a billion dollars in taxes each year and supplying hundreds of products used in our homes, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the medication we take and the health care supplies we use.