A short history

Lago Oil and Transport Co., Ltd.

In 1924 Imperial Oil of Canada was granted a 99-year lease by the Dutch government for the south-eastern part of the island of Aruba to establish an oil refinery. This refinery would process the crude from the Lake of Maracaibo in Venezuela.

Aruba was chosen both because of its location and because Imperial considered the political climate better than that of Venezuela.

Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso) took over from Imperial Oil in 1925 and named the refinery being built "Lago Oil & Transport Co., Ltd., choosing the Spanish word for lake, "Lago", to indicate that the main supply of crude came from "Lago de Maracaibo".

Most of the higher staff for the company came from abroad and houses were built in the enclosure known as Seroe Colorado. But as the company grew, to become world's largest oil refinery and in its heyday with a work force of more than 8000, additional housing was required for local employees as well as for those from neighboring countries and islands in the Caribbean. After all, Aruba boasted the highest standard of living in the entire area at the time, par with that of the US.

Lago Heights

In 1938 the first houses were built on a tract of land called "Donkey Hill". In total 150 houses would be built and the community was called Lago Heights. And the residents came from all over the Caribbean, from South America and from Europe, as well as from Aruba itself. A veritable melting pot of nations, with a mixture of cultures and languages.

Because the highest institutions of education were at secondary level at the time, those who wanted to pursue a higher level had to travel abroad. To England, to Holland, to other European countries, but also to South America and a great many to the U.S. After completing their studies a number of these returned to work for the same company as their parents, having enjoyed the benefits of a Lago scholarship. Others, for a variety of reasons, chose to remain abroad, and only visited the island on holiday.

In 1985, after 60 years on Aruba, the time came to close down the refinery. Most of the professionals with a higher education were either relocated elsewhere or decided to seek out other employment by themselves away from the island.

All in all, the Lago Heights-ians of yesteryear are now scattered all across the globe. . . . . .


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