With the holiday season approaching, Will Nelson has a lot to be thankful for.
A trucker working on the Eagle Ford Shale deposit, Nelson said his new, well-paying job has made a huge difference in his life.
"This is a dream come true," Nelson said. "From going on the road to where I’m home almost every night."
Nelson is one of thousands of workers who are benefitting from the South Texas oil boom, which is quickly transforming the landscape south of San Antonio, and changing the face of the small towns that spent years down on their luck.
"They are enjoying every bit of this business from this boom," Nelson said. "They’re reaping the benefits. Going from small time to big time."
At Taqueria Vallarta in Karnes City, wait staff said business has grown to the point that customers are sometimes waiting for a table until the restaurant closes.
“We’re usually packed,” said Katt Salas, who waits tables daily. “I would say 95% of it is oil rig. And 5% is just our local customers.”
The boom does come with some growing pains. Communities like Karnes City are struggling with increased traffic congestion, on roads that struggle to bear the weight of the steady stream of heavy trucks from the oil fields. There are also questions about the "fracking" process, and the chemicals used to extract the shale oil from the ground. At the end of the work day, though, people like Salas and Nelson see the benefits far outweighing any drawbacks.