Kilgore is located west of the Longview-Marshall, Texas metro area in Gregg County on US 259 and Hwys 31, 42, and 135. The discovery of the surrounding East Texas oilfield in the fall of 1930 transformed Kilgore from a declining rural community into a boomtown.
While its fortunes rose and fell with the resource, in 1965 Kilgore had an estimated 10,500 residents and 578 rated businesses.
In 1990 the population was 11,066. In the early 1990s the town housed a major office of the Oil and Gas Division of the Railroad Commission and the headquarters of various branches of the petroleum industry.
The East Texas Oil Museum and Kilgore College, the home of the famed Kilgore Rangerettes, are also located in Kilgore.