January 2, 1866 – First ‘Modern’ Rotary Rig Patented

Pictured here is a drawing of Peter Sweeney’s patent.

In 1866, Peter Sweeney patented the first rotary drill, a design meant to be an improvement on an earlier creation from Britain’s Robert Beart. This device includes many basic aspects of modern drill rigs that are still used today. Aptly titled Improvement in Rock Drills, this piece included a roller bit and replaceable cutting wheels. The drill head was designed to be turned rapidly so that the cutting wheels cut into the rock and produced a clear hole. The hollow drill-rod, the equivalent of modern drill pipe, allowed steam or water to be piped to the bottom of the hole so that it could be kept clear.

The rig was intended for drilling deep holes. Edwin Drake had drilled the first commercial oil well only a few years earlier, but Sweeney’s rock drill improved many of the shortcomings of this original design, and would be used extensively in many oil booms around the country.

January 2, 1882 – Standard Oil Reorganized Into Trust

A share certificate for the Standard Oil Trust.

While the Sherman Antitrust Laws were still a few years off, many states began passing laws against monopolistic companies. In response, John D. Rockefeller reorganized Standard Oil, which owned most of the oil production and transportation companies across the country, into a trust. The Standard Oil Trust in turn owned 40 different affiliate companies, through which it continued to control most of the oil business in the United States.

Because of the Standard Oil Trust, and the anti-competitive practices that its control allowed, the idea of a ‘trust’ became associated with monopolies. The trust was eventually broken up by a Supreme Court ruling in 1911.

January 2, 1932 – ‘76’ Brand Gas Was Introduced

The iconic orange 76 ball was introduced at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle.

On January 2nd, 1932, the Union Oil Company unveiled the now infamous ‘76’ brand gasoline at gas stations across the Western United States. The number was a reference both to the octane rating of the gasoline and to the 1776 U.S. Declaration of Independence. The orange ball ‘76’ logo that so many recognize was created for the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, Washington. Millions of smaller versions of the logo were given away as car antenna toppers in an effort to create publicity for the gas brand.

When ConocoPhillips began rebranding 76 stations in 2005, many of the orange balls were taken down. In response to a ‘Save the 76 Ball’ campaign, they reversed the decision and put up countless new balls in the new brand colors.

January 4, 1948 – New Oil Found In Permian Basin

The Permian Basin is a complex geological formation made up of several component basins and platforms.

In 1948, when an exploratory well hit oil in west Texas, it unveiled the potential for the upcoming Texas oil boom; and lead to a greater focus on the area’s potential for oil production. While there had been many attempts to find oil in the area over the years, this was the first successful wildcat well.

Slick-Urschel Oil Company drilled the well southeast of Midland, Texas to a depth of 12,000 ft.. Michael Benedum had drilled the first 10,000 ft in less than six months, but delayed his efforts when he ran into hard rock. With the help of Tom Slick, Jr., a whipstock was used to create a branch off the well in order to reach the oil in the limestone. When oil began flowing, more drillers began to see the potential the Lone Star State would hold.

January 7, 1864 – Oil Discovered At Pithole Creek

A view down Holmden St in Pithole, Pennsylvania. The street was named for Thomas Holmden, the owner of the farmland where oil was discovered, as well as where the town would come to be built.

When Isaiah Frazer and four other investors formed the United States Petroleum Company, they planned to drill exploratory wells throughout Pennsylvania in hopes of striking oil. Just five years earlier, Edwin Drake had drilled the first commercial oil well in nearby Oil Creek and the newly-formed company was looking for similar luck. Frazer and the others had taken a chance on the rougher landscape of Pithole Creek, in hopes of finding their own paying well.

The Frazer or United States No. 1 Well struck oil January 7, 1864. According to several reports, the site of the well was chosen using a dowsing rod. When the oil began to flow, this well began fueling the creation of a town that would boil up to a population of 20,000 in less than a year.

However, the growing town wouldn’t last long. In just 13 years, the town’s charter would be annulled and Pithole, Pennsylvania was essentially abandoned.

January 7, 1905 – Humble Oilfield Has Outstanding Production

A postcard showing oil being taken by wagon from the oil field in Humble, Texas.

The Beatty No. 2 Well stroke oil in Humble, Texas in 1905, setting a new precedent for the oil production in the United States. C.E. Barrett’s discovery in Harris County would rival the Spindletop oil strike four years earlier, producing over 8,000 barrels a day. Like the Spindletop strike, the discovery of oil in Humble, Texas would lead to a boom in the area.

The town’s population would go from under 1,000 to almost 20,000 in just a few months. Humble eventually produced over 15 million barrels of oil in the year of the boom alone. The oil field had a high production for many years, leading to the formation of the Humble Oil and Refining Company in 1911. It would be bought by Standard Oil and eventually become part of ExxonMobil. The Humble oil field is still producing oil today.

January 7, 1913 – Cracking Method Produces More Gasoline

William Merriam Burton developed the first thermal cracking process while working for Standard Oil.

Scientists working for Standard Oil developed the first cracking process, by using heat, to double the amount of gasoline that could be produced from each barrel of crude oil during the refining process. Cracking is the process of breaking longer hydrocarbon chains into shorter ones.

Oil was seeing a decline in demand, as electrical lighting was taking over from the previously popular kerosene lamps. However, at the same time, automobiles were coming onto the scene and creating a new type of demand, causing gasoline to becoming the more profitable petroleum product. More advanced forms of cracking would be developed in short order.

January 7, 1957 – Oil Discovered On Michigan Dairy Farm

This map shows drilling activity across Michigan. The Albion-Pulaski-Scipio field, where Ferne Houseknecht struck black gold, is the black line in the center of the state, near the southern border.

In January of 1957, Ferne Houseknecht was juggling her farm chores when she convinced her uncle to help her drill an exploratory well on her farm. It took over two years to pick away at the well, as Ferne had been convinced by a fortune teller that there was oil beneath her dairy farm.

The Houseknecth No. 1 Well hit oil at just over 3,500 ft, revealing the Black River formation, an oil producing zone in the southern part of Michigan. The discovery led to an oil boom and further drilling the area, producing over 100 million barrels of oil and a quarter million cubic ft of natural gas. The formation that Mrs. Houseknecht discovered is still producing petroleum today.

December 26, 1905 – 55 Gallon Drum Design Patented

Nellie Bly, owner of the Ironclad Manufacturing Company and holder of the 55 gallon drum patent, was a journalist before she was an industrialist. Here she is pictured preparing for her round-the-world trip, which she completed in 72 days.

A man by the name of Henry Wehrhan, who was working for Ironclad Manufacturing Company, applied for a couseveral patents of steel barrels, replacing the then industry-standard wooden barrels of the day. These patents would eventually go on to be developed into the modern 55-gallon steel drum.

Ironclad Manufacturing was owned by the famous Nellie Bly, an independent woman who had worked as a journalist for many years. Ten years earlier she had married the founder of Ironclad, Robert Seaman. And when Seaman passed away in 1904, he left Bly as president of the company, making her the official holder of the 55 gallon drum patent.

The patent for the steel barrel Wehrhan designed.

The steel drum Wehrhan designed was simple to manufacture and included flanged hoops for additional strength, bringing a great deal of promise to Bly’s newly acquired company.

Unfortunately, the company would go bankrupt due to embezzlement by a factory manager and Bly would ultimately return to journalism.

December 28, 1930 – Well Reveals True Size of East Texas Oilfield

The Lathrop No. 1 Well, seen here, was drilled 15 miles north of the Lou Della Crim No. 1 Well, confirming that the East Texas oilfield was larger than most had believed.

When J. Malcolm Crim completed the Lou Della Crim No. 1 Well, which he named for his mother, he had no idea that the well would unveil more than just oil. The resulting gusher proved that the East Texas oilfield is much larger than was previously believed.

Geologists had claimed that it was unlikely that anyone would find oil in the area around Kilgore, Texas. However, Malcolm Crim still drilled on the land belonging to his mother, ignoring their predictions. There are a few myths surrounding his motivations for drilling, but no matter what the reason, he proved to be correct when he struck oil. The well produced tens of thousands of barrels a day, and confirmed the massive size of the East Texas oilfield.

Other successful wells would continue to showcase the size of the oilfield, which would eventually be determined to be nearly 500 square miles in size.

December 30, 1854 – First Petroleum Company In US Opens

A stock certificate for the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company.

In 1854, George Bissell and six other men formed the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, the first business organized to drill for and sell oil in the United States. Openedin Albany, New York, the company initially had difficulty attracting investors.

The brand underwent a massive reorganization, before the original owners lost control of the business in the stock panic of 1857. It was eventually purchased by Robert Townsend who incorporated it as part of the Seneca Oil Company.

It was Townsend and Seneca Oil that hired Edwin L. Drake whose oil strike in Venango County Pennsylvania would become known as the first commercial oil well in the United States.

December 31, 1954 – 4-Mile Deep Dry Hole Sets Depth Record

The Ohio Oil Company would later buy Transcontinental Oil, including the Marathon brand, and its distinctive Greek runner logo.

In 1954, the Ohio Oil Company drilled a hole that would go on to set a depth record. The hole was located in Kern County, California, in the San Joaquin Valley, and was over 4 miles deep. Technological advances allowed drilling to that depth, though the technology of the time did not prove quite up to the challenge. The drill became stuck at the bottom and had to be fished out of the hole. Despite the depth of the hole, no oil was discovered.

A well that was nearly as deep, also located in Kern County, was eventually drilled by the Richfield Oil Corporation. However, it was short of the record by about 4,000 ft. Wells of that depth cost over half a million dollars to complete, yet despite the cost, over 600 wells were drilled in California that year alone.

December 13, 1905 — Birth of the Gas-Electric Hybrid

The large wheel hubs contain motors that are powered by an electrical generator run by a gas engine.

In 1902, as the petroleum exploration and drilling business was just getting started, there was still a lot of mystery surrounding just how much oil there would really be. Among fears that the supply was sharply limited and may run out, companies began inventing different types of alternative power sources for automobiles.

While steam, compressed air, and electricity were all explored, it was Ferdinand Porsche that introduced the first gas-electric car, using a four cylinder gas engine to generate electricity. The power was fed to motors in the wheel hubs which could drive the car up to 50 mph. Obviously, this was not only the birth of a new concept in modern mobiles, but the birth of the soon-to-be-world-famous Porsche brand.

December 13, 1931 — Oil Strike In Conroe, Texas

In December of 1931, George Strake Sr. struck oil with the South Texas Development Company No. 1 Well, located just south of Conroe, Texas. Strake had leased a 8,500 acre field that would be producing over 60,000 barrels a day by the next year.

In 1933, the oilfield collapsed into a crater filled with burning oil. Relief wells were drilled by George Failing, which drew oil away from the sinkhole and extinguished the fires. Failing had developed a truck mounted drilling rig that allowed him to drill a dozen six hundred foot wells in just a few hours; which proved to be a very profitable move for all involved.

December 14, 1981 – Attempts To Use Dowsing And Prayer To Find Oil Fail

Minnesota is one of the few states with no petroleum production at all.

In 1981, while some states were struggling with their lack of petroleum production, the Minneapolis Tribune reported that some were locating oil by using the traditional divination method of dowsing.

The report stated that by using copper rods, those practicing the ancient prayer were able to find oil reserves near Ellsworth, Minnesota.

Despite a geological report that noted that it was unlikely Minnesota held any oil or gas reserves, nearly $200,000 dollars was raised for the drilling of a wildcat well. It was drilled down to 1,500 ft, but no petroleum of any sort was found.

December 17, 1884 — Cannons Used To Poke Holes In Burning Oil Tanks

Cannons left over from the Civil War were used to fight oil field fires.

Lightning was a significant problem in oilfields in the early late 19th century as stray bolts of lightning we actually able to ignite oil tanks, causing serious fires. The technology for fighting oil fires was still in its infancy and there was little that could be done but allow the fire to burn itself out. With most oil tanks, it meant there was a great deal of oil to burn off making these strikes costly, dangerous and time consuming.

The solution was to poke a hole in the tank and allow the oil to run out, so the fire would burn itself out much more quickly. This could be done using cannons left over from the US Civil War. Cannons loaded with 3-inch balls were soon stationed throughout oil country, ready for use in case of an emergency.

December 17, 1903 – First Gas-Power Flight Takes Off

The original Wright Flyer used a homemade gas engine to power its original on December 17, 1903.

The Wright Flyer took to the skies on December 17th, 1903 and it became the first plane to be powered by a 12 horsepower gas engine. The engine was built by Charlie Taylor and used 50 octane gasoline intended for use in boat engines.

That’s not the only impact that gas had on the early days of the aviation industry. Natural gas also powered the Wright brothers’ workshop. A single cylinder engine was used to provide power to their lathe, a drill press and a simple wind tunnel used to test their designs.

December 17, 1910 – Helium Found In Texas Natural Gas Reserve

In 1910, a gushing oil well was discovered in Clay County, Texas. The oil boom that followed saw the founding of Petrolia, Texas, named after another oil boom town in Pennsylvania. The Dorthulia Dunn No. 1 produced hundreds of barrels of oil a day, with the oil field producing 500,000 barrels in 1914 alone during its production peaked. Eventually, other oil field discoveries would surpass Petrolia as production fell.

However, helium was also found in a reserve of natural gas in Petrolia. This pushed the government to build the first helium extraction plant in the US in the Texas town. That plant was the only source for helium in the country for several years, keeping Petrolia on the map even when other oil boom towns had collapsed.

December 18, 1929 – Oil Boom In Venice, California

While oil is still produced in southern California, the wells are usually disguised to make them less obtrusive. That wasn’t always the case, as dozens of oil derricks once loomed over Venice Beach.

The oil boom came to beachfront Venice, CA when a wildcat well was drilled by the Ohio Oil Company in this little town outside of Los Angeles. The company had obtained permission to drill within the city limits, just a couple blocks from the beach. The well produced several thousand barrels of oil a day, proving that there was a substantial reserve under Venice, California.

Oil is still produced from the area today, though the wells are hidden behind facades to make them less obvious. However, it wasn’t always this way. As late as the 1960’s there were still oil derricks throughout the city, which many thought took away from the charm of this waterfront community.

Ohio Oil Company was bought by Standard Oil and remained part of that company until it was broken up by court order in 1911. In 1930, Ohio bought the Transcontinental Oil Company creating the Marathon brand. Today, the company is known as Marathon Oil.

May 1st, 1860 – West Virginia Shows Promise in Petroleum

In May 1860, John Castelli Rathbone located oil at a stream named Burning Springs Run, in present-day West Virginia. This discovery is credited with beginning of the petroleum industry in the state.

The well, named the Rathbone Well, had a depth of 300 feet and produced 100 oil barrels per day day. The discovery also marked the first boom that began outside of the state of Pennsylvania and lead to almost 600 oil leases in the area by the end of the year.

Historians credit these events as the start of the gas and oil industry in America. They also lead to West Virginia ultimately becoming a state in 1863.

May 1st, 1916 – Sinclair Oil is Formed

In 1916, a number of struggling oil properties, leases, and five small refineries were acquired for rock-bottom prices by a man named Harry Ford Sinclair. This marked the official formation of Sinclair Oil and Refining Corporation, which would go on to be one of the most notable oil companies of its kind.

Based in New York, Sinclair Oil and Refining reached over $9 million in net income in the first year alone, after Sinclair was able to produce over 6 million oil barrels in a matter of months. In 1932, there were able to reach a capacity of 150,000 oil barrels per day.

The company started using a Brontosaurus (now known as an Apatosaurus) on labels and advertising in 1930. The Jurassic era giant featured in the “Dinoland” area at the New York World’s Fair amazed visitors. It appeared in 1934 and again 1964, helping the company to blossomed into one of the most recognized names in the American oil industry.

May 1st, 2001 – Conoco Oil Pioneers Exhibit

On May 1st, 2001, the “Conoco Oil Pioneers of Oklahoma Plaza,” was officially opened at the Sam Noble Museum on the University of Oklahoma’s campus.

The educational exhibit details the history of the state of Oklahoma and the impact the oil industry had on its development, highlighting how the two are intrinsically linked. The people honored in the exhibit were pioneers that made significant contributions to the state and the oil industry.

The plaza also pays homage to the “King of he Wildcatters,” Tom Slick. The former landman and geologist was responsible for several big discoveries in the area, including the founding of the high-producing Cushing-Drumright Oilfield.

May 3rd, 1870 – Patent for “Yellow Dog” Safety Lamp

In 1870, Johnathen Dillen received a patent for his safety derrick lamp, the “Yellow Dog.”  The safety lamp was actually a lantern with two wicks that was used in America’s first oilfields.

The lamp was designed to illuminate areas around derricks and machinery where explosions were more common. The lamp was designed to be safer than traditional lanterns in these high-risk environments.

There is still some debate over where the lamp got its name, but most think that it is because when lit, the two wicks looked like a dog’s yellow eyes in the night.

May 4th, 1869 – Patent for Offshore Drilling Rig

In 1869, Thomas Rowland was granted a patent for his “submarine drilling apparatus,” marking the first American patent for an offshore drilling rig. Rowland owned a company in Greenpoint, New York called Continental Iron Works. Experts claim that this patent inspired the technology we use for offshore exploration today. Rowland’s design was a worked, fixed platform to be used in offshore drilling at up to a 50-foot depth.

Even though the rig was meant to work in shallow waters, the tower resembled more modern fixed platforms used today. Both Rowland and Continental Iron Works became big names in petroleum tank construction and design. In 1947, as technology improved, wells were drilled offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1882 the American Society of Civil Engineers established the Thomas Fitch Rowland Prize to pay homage to his innovation and his contributions to the industry.

May 5th, 1889 – Large Indiana Refinery Built Outside Chicago

In May 1889 the Standard Oil Company began construction on their new oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana, a community located just minutes outside of downtown Chicago.

The 235-acre complex used processes that John D. Rockefeller initiated just a few years prior. It was the largest refinery in America when it was completed. BP now owns the complex.

This refinery used newly patented technology and processed “sour crude,” a sulfurous material found Ohio oilfields. It was later transported on railroads controlled by Rockefeller. Soon after, the refinery was producing kerosene used in home lamps, as public demand for the fuel increased.

May 7th, 1920 – Halliburton Company

Erle P. Halliburton founded the Halliburton Company in Wilson, Oklahoma on May 7th, 1920. At the time, it was a cementing and well service company, but it eventually expanded into the New Method Oil Cementing Company, after the “Burkburnett” oil boom.

Using cement in the drilling of wells is still critical in the industry. This is because injecting it in the well protects casing, minimizes the possibility of a blowout and seals off the water formation.

In 1922, a mixer called “jet-cement” was patented. This increased both the quality and speed of mixing. Seventeen Halliburton trucks began servicing Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma by the end of that year.

This company also launched new innovative cement pumps. Rather than being powered by rig boiler steam, they got their power from truck motors. This allowed a formation to be tested without casing being set. The Halliburton Company provided the first cementing units that were self-contained. They also operated on that contained power source. Soon after, cementing technology continued to become more advanced.

April 24th, 1911 – The Magnolia Petroleum Company Takes Shape

In 1898, Corsicana, Texas was home to only one small refinery, however, it quickly lead to a boom that would bring countless other companies to the area.  In, 1911, these companies were consolidated into Magnolia Petroleum Company, an unincorporated joint-stock association.

In 1925, a New York company, Standard Oil Company started the process to acquire Magnolia. The Standard Oil of New York merged with Vacuum Oil Company in 1931. It was during this time that Socony-Vacuum Oil Company was formed. As a result, the number one affiliate for this nationwide company became Magnolia.

Magnolia had operations across 20 states and had 12,500 employees by the 1930s. To meet its rapid expansion, its headquarters were moved to the now iconic skyscraper in Dallas, Texas. The company used the Pegasus logo from Socony-Vacuum Oil (now Mobil) to represent their brand, and rotated the flying horse on top of Magnolia’s headquarter’s building.

April 25th, 1865 –  Col. Edward A.L. Roberts Ushers In Industry Change

Col. Edward A.L. Roberts, a veteran of the Civil War made waves in the oil industry when he was granted the first of his many patents in 1865. One of his first of these patents for “Improvement in Exploding Torpedoes in Artesian Wells.”  This invention fractured oil formations to increase production by controlling downhole explosions.

Gunpowder filled torpedoes were sent into wells and were set off using a weight that would be dropped onto suspension wires. Nitroglycerin was used instead of gunpowder in later versions. Prior to this invention, there was not much oil coming out of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Roberts’ home state of New York.

This new patent was a huge advancement in technology for the oil industry in America, and it allowed the Roberts Petroleum Torpedo Company to charge $200 for each torpedo shot. It also charged a small royalty. While this was great for the company, some oilmen hired practitioners to work at night and use similar devices. This is where the term “moonlighting” was born.

April 26th, 1947 – American Petroleum Institute Launches First Campaign

The first advertising campaign by American Petroleum Institute began in 1947, ushering in a new era of marketing and advertising for the industry.  The institute launched a radio campaign that showcased the progressive nature of the industry on both the local and regional levels.

The campaign ran over a huge expansion of air time. Today, the API represents large American oil companies. It promotes safe use of equipment and good engineering practices.

April 27th, 1966 – Jim Buchwald Forms Corporation

Jim Buchwald, a former teacher with a mechanical engineering degree formed his own company in Ohio when he officially started the Ariel Corporation.

According to one historian, an unused room in Buchwald’s home became his first machine shop as he didn’t have any other way to pay for another building or store tools. Later, one of the adjoining rooms functioned as the engineering department for the entire cooperation.

The tools Buchwald did invest in were a vertical drill, a lathe, and a rotary table. This is where he created his own prototype of a gas compressor, which he completed in 1968. It was the fastest at the time running at 1,800 revolutions per minute. He decided to name the company for his favorite motorcycle, a 1948 Ariel.

April 30th, 1929 – Conoco Rises

After several high-producing oilfields were uncovered in Oklahoma, the Continental Oil Company was acquired by the much larger Marland Oil Company in a move that would ultimately lead to the rise of the Conoco brand.

The goal of the acquisition was to ultimately create service stations across 30 US states. Ernest Marland had Marland Oil almost a decade earlier in 1921 before becoming the governor of Oklahoma and was looking to expand his growing oil empire.

Continental Oil Company had been around since 1875 when it first  formed in Utah. After it was acquired, the Ponca City company kept their name but used the widely recognized trademark, the red triangle. They replaced the original text and changed it to CONOCO, ultimately forming the globally recognized logo that so many people know today.

Today, the company is known as ConocoPhillips a change that came after the 2002 Phillips Petroleum merger.

April 30th, 1955 – Professional Landmen Association formed

In 1955, Fort Worth Texas was the origin of a trade association for petroleum landmen. It is now known as the American Association of Professional Landmen.

This association has expanded its mission, but it started with a few simple goals. The association ensured that government regulations were being followed. They also used records to locate landowners, as well as negotiate deals and contracts.

The AAPL now has more than 15,000 members across the country and is a resource that supports the continuing education of landmen. The group also work with communities to increase opportunities in the oil industry and foster energy independence in America.

April 17th, 1919 – The Start of Another Texas  Oil Boom

In 1919, the Waggoner No. 1 Well produced 4,800 oil barrels every day starting another oil drilling boom in the Wichita County, Texas area.

S.L. Fowler’s farm was the location of a well that brought in a large number of organizations along Red River border in Oklahoma. This area was producing oil for about seven years by this time and it included Wichita Falls. Due to the amount of competition, most of the newly formed companies would not find success.

There were a number of wells found in the area later known as Northwest Extension Oilfield. The latest being the Waggoner well. The oilfield was made up of roughly 27 square miles of S. Burk Burnett horse ranch. Both of these oil booms in North Texas inspired 1940’s “Boom Town” starring Clark Gable.

April 18th, 1939 – Inventors Improve Old Oil Flow Methods

In 1939, a Los Angeles inventor named Ira McCullough patented a mechanical firing system and a multi-bullet shot perforator that would ultimately improve oil flow methods. The point of the invention was to perforate casing after its installation inside a well and when elements had been shot into the casing, through the formation.

Firing on multiple levels into the borehole enhanced oil flow. The device also included disconnectable means for safety. When charges entered then were lowered to the borehole it rendered the percussion inoperative. This served as a safety measure to protect against inadvertent operation.

Henry Mohaupt also made his own advancements over a decade later, creating an explosive that was hollowed out to perforate wells in 1951. He took advantage of anti-tank technology used in World War II to bring this innovation to life.

April 19th, 1892 – First Gas-Powered Automobile Takes It’s First Ride

On April 19th, 1892, Frank and Charles Duryea test drove an automobile powered by gasoline that they invented in their workshop in Springfield, MA. This is now credited as the very first automobile made for regular sale in America. The Duryea Motor Wagon Company ended up producing 13 of these cars and shortly after, manufacturers followed suit.

The Duryea brothers made their first automobile sale in 1896. It was named the Duryea Motor Wagon. However, initial usage of the vehicle didn’t go as smoothly as planned. According to one report, a motorist driving the Duryea Motor Wagon hit a cyclist and completed the first recorded traffic accident involving an automobile in America.

In 1900, eight years after the original invention, the automobile appeared at the first auto show in America, which was held in Madison Square Garden. Out of 4,200 of the models sold in the U.S. around 1,000 adopted this gas-powered model introduced by the Duryea brothers.

April 20th, 1875 – New Innovations Make Well Pumping Becomes More Efficient

Levi Streeter and Albert Nickerson from Venango County patented an improvement for well pumping in April 1875 that would go on to vastly improve efficiency in the oil industry. At the time, a single engine powered by steam to pump multiple wells, while the technology created by Streeter and Nickerson utilized a method of walking beams that were linked and balanced.

According to the patent, while one walking beam would lift from one well, a third well would also lift. Wells two and four would perform the opposite task at this time.

This system was the predecessor to the popular rod-line pulley and rope technology that was used throughout the 20th century.

April 20th, 1892 – Oil Boom Hits Los Angeles

In 1892, mining partners Charles A. Canfield and Edward L. Doheny made a discovery that would catapult the California oil industry when they discovered a massive oilfield in Los Angeles near the present-day Dodger Stadium. After drilling tar seeps in-between Colton Avenue and Beverly Boulevard–right in the middle of the city, the two found a Well that would go on to produce up to 45 barrels per day.

Over the next two years, more than 80 more wells were discovered under Los Angeles, bringing about a major oil boom in the city. By 1987, that number grew to over 500.

This Los Angeles field found itself producing an estimated 750 thousand barrels in 1895. This was above half of the roughly 1 million oil barrels that came out of California, which by 1925 was producing half of the world’s oil supply.

April 20th, 2010 – BP Well Accident Makes History

On April 20th, 2010, at around 10 PM an explosion took place on the Deepwater Horizon, near the Gulf of Mexico’s Macondo Prospect, in a tragedy that would lead to one of the biggest and most controversial oil explosions in modern history.

The rig was about 50 miles from the coast of Louisiana finishing a well when the explosion happened. This occurred just a few months after the rig had set a new record for drilling the deepest well in existence, going more than 4,130 feet below water at a vertical depth of 35,050 feet. Eleven of 126 total crew members on board were tragically killed and others 17 were injured. This semi-submersible vessel sank after being destroyed by fires and the explosion.

A large oil spill followed after the BP well was completely destroyed by the fire. It was amazingly capped in July of the same year. The Coast Guard, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Regulation and Enforcement) and others investigated the issue eventually producing an official  accident report on the event in 2011.

April 22nd, 1920 – New Industry Appears in Arkansas

On April 22nd 1920, southern Arkansas became the official site of the first completed natural well. This gas well was located 2.5 miles away from El Dorado and produced as much as 60 million cubic feet of gas each day.

It was drilled to about 2,250 feet and brought the promise of oil in Nacatoch Sands. A different nearby well was not producing any commercial amount of oil just days before this.

The well was eventually named the Busey-Armstrong No. 1 and it responsible for kickstarting the Arkansas oil industry. The first commercial oil wells were established the following year and by 1922, the high-producing Smackover oilfield was discovered.

April 22nd, 1926 – Statue Rises in Skedee, Oklahoma

On April 22nd, 1926, a statue celebrating the friendship of Osage Indian Chief Bacon Rind and Colonel E.E. Walters was erected in the town of Skedee, Oklahoma.

Starting in 1912, Chief Bacon Rind and Colonel Elmer Ellsworth Walters used sales from mineral leases to raise millions of dollars for the area.

Notable men like William Skelly, E.W. Marland and like Frank Phillips bid in front of crowds of people in these auctions which took place in Pawhuska, under a large elm tree on the property of a building known as Tribal Council House.

April 10th, 1866 – The Densmores Usher in Change

James and Amos Densmore, inventors from Meadville, Pennsylvania were approved for a patent on their petroleum transporting system that lead to the Pennsylvania oil boom a year earlier.

The Densmore Brothers and America’s First Successful Railway Oil Tank Car, 1865

The cars shown in the patent had a simple yet reliable design for attaching two reinforced containers together on a standard railroad car. Despite the fact that the oil-tank cars were an improvement, they were quickly replaced the more practical designs used today.

The first tank car. Replica of a Densmore-type tank car.

Amos Densmore left the oil transportation business but had a new big idea in 1975. He had come up with a different way to arrange a typewriters’ keys. He did this so that letters that were often used would no longer collide. This arrangement, known as the “Q-W-E-R-T-Y” arrangement was a significant improvement. Densmore founded the Densmore Typewriter Co. following his success in the oil industry.

April 13th, 1974 – Bertha Rogers No. 1 Sets a Record

Bertha Rogers No. 1 set a record for well depth in 1974. After a total of 504 days and seven million dollars were put into the well, it ended at 31,441 feet because of liquid sulfur. This well was in the center of the Anadarko Basin in Oklahoma. The Bertha Rogers No. 1 held the record for deepest well in America for 30 years, before being overtaken in 2004.

Lone Star Producing Company and GHK Company owned by Robert Hefner III thought that natural gas reserves would be found in the depths of the basin. It extended all the way from the Texas Panhandle to West-Central Oklahoma. The attempt to reach the reserves began in 1967, two years later, they discovered the reserve at 24,473 feet.

Despite the natural gas discovery, a historian named Robert Dorman noted that gas sales could not make up for the high cost of drilling to this depth. This was because of price control by the government. It would cost over $6 million for the drilling, while the cost for a traditional well was a fraction of that.

In November 1972, drilling began on The Bertha Rogers No. 1. On average, progress of 60 feet was made each day. The temperature and bottom hole pressure had climbed to 475 degrees and close two 25,000 pounds per square inch respectively. Bottom hole cuttings took about eight hours to meet the surface, a staggering six miles above.

Bertha Rogers was finished as a gas discovery at 13,000 feet, despite the fact that there was no gas at its deepest point. The casing required (just over 1 million pounds) was the heaviest to be handled by any rig at the time. Work done on Bertha Rogers Well was credited with leading the way for technologies for deeper drilling and the gas plays in the 1990s.

Bertha Rogers Crude Oil Lucite Paperweight. The natural gas well drilled almost six miles deep in the Anadarko Basin of Oklahoma.

April 14th, 1865 – President Lincoln’s Assassination Has Ties to Oil Industry

John Wilkes Booth assassinated the President Abraham Lincoln on April 14th, 1865–and this infamous day actually had ties to the oil and gas industry. He did this after being unable to make a fortune in the oilfields of Pennsylvania. Booth and few of his friends had formed the Dramatic Oil Company after Booth abandoned a career in acting for an attempt to take advantage of an oil boom in Venango County.

Booth made several trips to Franklin, Pennsylvania in January 1864 when he decided to lease a farm on the Allegheny River. The Dramatic Oil Company did see oil production in their well, around 25 barrels per day, but Booth wanted to increase production. He decided to shoot the well in an attempt to accomplish this. He left the oil region in July 1864 once the well was destroyed. Months later he would go on to complete one of the most tragic assassinations in history.

John Wilkes Booth’s fantasy of Pennsylvania oil wealth abruptly ended in July 1864.

April 15th, 1897 – Oklahoma Emerges as Leader in Oil Production

On April 15th, 1897, dozens of people gathered around a well, Nellie Johnstone No. 1 near the Indian territory of Bartlesville in an area that would later become the state of Oklahoma.

A “go devil” was dropped into the well bore by one of George Keeler’s stepdaughters and was set off a placed nitroglycerin canister. That produced a gusher that jump-started the oil industry in Oklahoma. This event also lead to another big discovery in the Bartlesville-Dewey Field. It was Nellie Johnstone No.1. When Oklahoma reached statehood in 1907, it subsequently became the world leader in oil production.

Drilling started in the area started and Bartlesville would soon become incorporated with a population of 200 people that same month. Four months after that, the Nellie Johnstone No.1 Well showed signs that it would produce oil when drilling reached 1,320 feet. This well was named for the daughter of partner William Johnstone.

The Bartlesville area saw a lot of growth through the decade after the discovery. The population climbed to more than 4,000 people. The annual oil production for Oklahoma peaked at over 43 million barrels. Now, an education center and an 84 foot replica wooden derrick stand to keep the story alive. The land for this area was donated by the namesake of the well, Nellie Johnstone Cannon. It is known as Discovery 1 Park.

Nellie Johnstone No. 1 – Oklahoma’s first commercial well completed in 1897.

April 16th, 1855 – Rock Oil Shines With Yale Professor’s Discovery

A chemistry professor from Yale University, named Benjamin Silliman Jr., broke new ground with his discovery of “rock oil.” This substances could be turned into an illuminating oil once distilled. His report had a great impact, so great it convinced investors from New Haven, Connecticut to fund drilling efforts lead by Edwin Drake in northwestern Pennsylvania.

According to Silliman’s report, companies would be able to use the raw material, rock oil, and through a simple and inexpensive process, turn it into something much more valuable.

Now it was known that kerosene could be distilled from both oil and coal. This conclusion lead to the first commercial oil discovery in the United States. This took place in Titusville, four years after the report was published.

April 16th, 1920 – Arkansas Enters the Petroleum Industry

The very first oil well in the state of Arkansas was completed by Col. Samuel S. Hunter on April 16th, 1920. Hunter worked for a company in Shreveport, Louisiana known as the Hunter Oil Company. This well, Hunter No. 1 was drilled to just over 2,000 feet. It was later called the Lester-Hamilton No. 1 after its lease owners.

This well only produced a small amount of oil for Ouachita County but it lead to a bigger well discovery in the same area. The S.T. Busey well began to gush oil in January 1921. These wells launched oil production and the petroleum industry for the state of Arkansas.

The Standard Oil Company of Louisiana later purchased Col. Hunter’s original lease for more than $2.2 million. This lease included 20,000 acres and the non-commercial discovery well.

April 4th, 1951 – Williston Basin Revealed

In North Dakota, Amerada Petroleum struck oil and discovered the infamous Williston Basin when they dug down two miles below the Clarence Iverson farm. The company had struggled for several weeks, efforting to drill through major snowstorms, when they finally made their discovery in early April.

This basin actually extended much further than expected. It sprawls into areas of South Dakota, Montana and even into Canada. Oil companies quickly made their way to these regions and in just two months, over 30 million acres of the basin were leased.

In March of 1951, this well had peaked at a 10,500-foot depth before a major snowstorm halted progress. Drilling began again on April 4th. When the operation did begin again, this well was then perforated at 11,630 and 11,640 feet. Historian James Key notes that this was the biggest discovery of a geologic basin in decades. The result was an entirely new industry for North Dakota.

According to a 2008 geological survey done in the U.S., it was estimated that the untapped oil and gas in the Williston Basin area may be nearly four million barrels and close to two trillion cubic feet, respectively. A 2013 estimate by the USGS claims that real figures could be double the previously guessed amounts.

April 5, 1976 – Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act

On April 5th, the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act of 1976 was signed in by President Gerald Ford. This act made it possible for companies to start commercial efforts on the three Naval Petroleum Reserves in the nation.

Years later in 1992, the Naval Petroleum Reserve in California produced its billionth oil barrel. This Elk Hills area reserve was under control of the Department of Energy until 1998, when it was privatized. The reserve created billions of dollars in profit, more than 17 billion for the United States Treasury.

April 7th, 1902 – The Texas Company Rises

Despite many companies being founded during the Spindletop boom, The Texas Company rose above and was one of the most successful in the petroleum industry at the time.

Arnold Schlaet and Joseph “Buckskin Joe” Cullinan started the company on April 7th, 1902 in Beaumont. The goal was to refine and transport oil in the area. They also built a facility in Port Arthur for refining kerosene.

Another well, named Fee No. 3 was discovered in January of 1903 in the Sour Lake Springs area. This was a huge factor in the company’s success, as it produced 5,000 barrels of oil each day.

The name “Texaco” could be seen on all of the companies products. This was taken from the telegraph address of the New York office. Soon after, in 1909, The Texas Company registered a red star featuring a green “T” as their first trademark. The Texas Company grew to be nationally recognizable in 1928. They spanned across 48 states with upwards of 4,000 gas stations. In 1959, the company officially dropped ‘The Texas Company” for the name “Texaco Inc.”

April 7th, 1966 – Offshore Technology Accelerated by Cold War Mistake

Robotic technology that was being used by the petroleum industry was first put to work retrieving a lost atomic bomb, before it went on to completely revolutionize the oil and gas industry. An underwater vehicle used attached cables to remove the weapon from the Mediterranean Sea at 2,850 feet. The bomb was originally lost in January after a B-52 crashed offshore near Spain.

According to Popular Science Magazine, “It was located and fished up by the most fabulous array of underwater machines ever assembled,” The petroleum industry continued to push forward and adopted deep-sea technology developed by the Navy at the time of the Cold War.

April 9th, 1914 – Launch of Ohio Cities

On April 9th, 1914, Fletcher Health and Beman Dawes founded the Ohio Cities Gas Company in Columbus, Ohio. In 1917, the company bought out a Pennsylvania oil company named “Pure Oil Company” and subsequently changed their name to Pure Oil.

The original Pure Oil Company had been formed in Pittsburgh in 1895.  It was founded to challenge the dominance that Standard Oil Company had over the market at that time. It was only the second united oil company other than Standard. This company had its headquarters in a skyscraper in Chicago that was finished in 1926. At the time, it held a title as one of the 100 biggest industrial corporations in America. Later, in 1965 it was acquired by Union Oil Company of California, now known as a part of Chevron.

March 27th, 1855 – Kerosene Trademarked by Canadian Chemist

Abraham Gesner, a Canadian chemist and physician patented a now very widely used process that distills coal and turns it into a fluid called kerosene. Gesenser claimed to have discovered and subsequently invented a way to manufacture the new matter. Since the fluid was sourced from coal, buyers often referred to it as “coal oil.”

When it became known that kerosene could also be produced with crude oil, it gave birth to the petroleum exploration industry in the United States. At this time, new oil field sprawling across Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania was discovered. Soon kerosene, which was very inexpensive, became the primary light source in the U.S., before the implementation of the light bulb.

Abraham Gesner is credited as one of the fathers of the petroleum industry in Canada. In 1842, he established Canada’s first natural history museum. The Petroleum History Society notes that today, one of the country’s most dated geological collections has its place in the New Brunswick Museum.

March 27th, 1975 –  Construction on Alaskan Pipeline Starts

On March 27th, 1975, construction started on the biggest private construction venture at this time in U.S. history with the creation of the Alaskan Pipeline.

This pipeline would cost an estimated $8 billion by the time it was completed. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline was 800 miles long and included the Valdez Marine Terminal, more pipelines, and pumping stations. It was finished in 1977.

This pipeline consisted of segments spanning 420 miles. These segments were laid with an alternating zigzag pattern to lend itself to further expansion. Today, it is still recognized as an engineering landmark.

March 28th, 1886 – Gas Boom in Indiana

The Eureka Gas and Oil company located a new gas field, known as the Trenton Limestone, after drilling about 700 feet in Portland, Indiana. The result was a natural gas drilling boom. During this period of time, Indiana was the leading producer of natural gas in the United States.

This gas field was found just a few months after Findlay, Ohio’s “Great Karg Well,” located less than 100 miles northeast of the area.

According to James Glass, a historian from Ball State University, Pennsylvania was home to very large amounts of natural gas. They completely changed the glass steel and iron industries, encouraging the use of more natural gas over coal.

The Trenton Limestone turned out to be a big producer and was later found in 17 counties spanning more than 5,000 miles of the state of Indiana. Over the next three years, 200 companies became able to drill, distribute and sell natural gas in the area.

March 28th, 1905 – Northern Louisiana Oilfield Discovered

In 1905, The Offenhauser No. 1 Well officially struck oil approximately 1,556 feet underground. It was a part of the massive oilfield in Caddo-Pine Island.

Unfortunately, this well only produced five barrels each and was later abandoned. However, it encouraged further exploration in the area and soon more wells were discovered and this northern Louisian oilfield became a major source of production.

In 1906, Louisiana went on to pass the first conservation law in the state in an attempt to quell growing concerns over flaring causing a loss in natural gas. Production in the Caddo-Pine Island Oilfield went on to climb as high as 11 million barrels per year by 1918.

March 29th, 1819 –  Edwin Drake is Born

The man credited as one of the fathers of the oil industry, Edwin Drake was born on March 29th, 1819 in Greenville, New York. It was near Titusville, Pennsylvania in summer 1859 when he came to a breakthrough–he drilled a well that was the first to be commercial in the U.S. using a cable-rig device that was steam powered. He also coined the method of sending a pipe down to protect the structure of the well.

Despite many technical and financial challenges, Drake created a landmark in the history of energy. He was at the forefront of new technology including drilling technology, and isolation with iron casing. He was searching on behalf of Seneca Oil Company to find oil to refine into kerosene and thanks to a shallow well, he ended up pioneering an entire industry.

According to a historian from Pennsylvania State University,  in 1959, Drake came up with the plan for sending a pipe downward through a drill. He, however, did not patent this idea.

March 29th, 1938 – The Founding of the Sensational Magnolia Oilfield

An Arkansas newspaper dubbed Southern Arkansas an “oil country sensation,” after a 100-million barrel well opened in a Magnolia oilfield. The well was called the Barnett No. 1.

Due to a lack of backers and the recession, Kerlyn Oil Company suspended drilling. Despite this, Dean McGee a geologist and vice president of the company continued on. At a depth of 7,650, he uncovered a giant oil discovery. McGee also went on to lead early efforts Gulf of Mexico offshore exploration.

April 1st, 1911 – “Pump Jack Capital of Texas” Sees First Well

The town of Electra, Texas, got its name from the daughter of  rancher W.T. Waggoner. It is said that he complained after finding oil when creating wells for his cattle to have water.

However, he didn’t just find oil, he would make a discovery that would lead to an oil boom that lasted several decades. On April 1st, 1911, below the Red River border close to Electra, the Clayco Oil & Pipe Line Company created a well named Clayco No. 1.

According to an Electra historian, people of the town were thinking the gusher that started was a joke for April fools. They didn’t think the gusher was real until they could see the black oil shooting towards the sky.

The well, that was dug on Waggoner’s land, reached a production level of 650 barrels per day.  In 1913, Electra had its peak in oil production at 8 million barrels after many more wells popped up. This trend in Texas continued, in Eastland County with the eruption of “Roaring Ranger” in 1917 and an eventual boom known as “Burkburnett.”

Electra was named the “Pump Jack Capital of Texas” in 2001 after a campaign by passionate activists in the community. Now, more than 2,800 people celebrate this discovery every year with what they call the Pump Jack Festival.

April 1st, 1986 – Rock Bottom Price on Crude Oil

The petroleum industry hit a major low in 1986. Globally, oil prices were less than $10 per barrel. This happened due to a culmination of the recession, excessive production by OPEC and price and production controls in the industry.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Shenk, the market was flooded by Saudi Arabia during this time after previously changing their level of output to support the change. The oil prices dropped 69% in less than one year.

Oil prices bounced back by 1990. Oil prices were at their peak in the summer of 2008 at $145 for each barrel. The price dropped to under $32 before the next year.  These are shocking numbers when you look at the history of oil. Prices were between $2.50 and $3 for each barrel between 1948 and the 1960s, while the costs were less $25 during the mid-1980s through 2003 (adjusted for inflation).

April 2nd, 1980 – Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Signed by President Carter

The Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax was signed in 1980 by  President Jimmy Carter. Eight years later, it was repealed.

The Windfall Profit Tax (WPT) was controversial and created an excise tax for the production of oil. This all came just one year after previously listing price controls.

Policymakers followed a levy on oil production. The difference between the original price and the market cost of oil was taxed. The WPT was put in in an attempt to limit price jumps for oil. The price used came from the oil prices in 1979 and was adjusted annually to account for inflation.

In the following eight years of the tax, the production of domestic oil dropped the smallest rate in 20. In August of 1988, Congress repealed this tax, which was great news for all who worked in this industry.

March 20th, 1919 – American Petroleum Institute Established

The American Petroleum Institute (API) was established in New York City in 1921 in an effort to fuel World War I. The API created a scale to measure liquid petroleum density against water in 1921, an innovation that is now referred to as API gravity.

March 20th, 1973 –  Pithole, Penn listed in Historic Registry

Pithole, Pennsylvania earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places as a former oil boom town. A Pithole Creek oilfield discovery lead to a boom in the budding oil industry in the United States.

The resulting oil production was the first step to the nation’s first pipeline. Known for its impressive production numbers, a single oil boom in this town lasted 500 days.

March 23th, 1858 – Official Birth of Seneca Oil Company

Former railroad conductor Edwin Drake and investors from New Haven, Connecticut founded the Seneca Oil Company on March 23rd, 1858–a company that would go on to forever change the oil and gas industry. These businessmen had bought leases of Pennsylvania’s Oil Rock Company, the first U.S. oil company in history, with the help of George Bissell.

Bissell was excluded from the deal, despite the fact he had studied oil steeps south of the area. “The New Haven men then put the final piece of their plan into place with the formation of a new company,” according to the book William Brice in Myth Legend Reality: Edwin Laurentine Drake and the Early Oil Industry.

The first American oil well was created in 1959 by Seneca and Drake. This was in part due to information on oil seeps, uncovered by George Bissell. Although they didn’t close the deal on Seneca Oil together, both Bissell and Drake would later be credited as the fathers of the petroleum industry in America.

March 24th, 1989 – Supertanker Exxon Valdez Strikes Ground

When the Exxon Valdez tanker struck ground at Bligh Reef in 1989, the accident would lead to one of the largest oil spills to date. The incident took place in Prince William Sound, Alaska came after years of similar passages without issue.

Out of eleven oil tanks, eight sustained damage. About 260,000 oil barrels spilled onto land and sea impacting hundreds of miles along the coast.

The accident is still hailed as one of the most damaging spills in history. The cause was an error in navigation by the crew. It is suspected that the accident occurred because of exhaustion or the crew being overworked.

The Exxon Valdez tanker was sold in 2012.

March 26th, 2012 — East Texas Oil Museum Unveils Buddy The Electric Lineman

A full size animatronic version of Buddy, the electric lineman, was placed in the East Texas Oil Museum in a ceremony on March 26th, 2012.

This lifelike animatronic met visitors as they entered the oilfield discovery exhibit. This addition to the museum was very popular with guests from America and abroad.

Buddy was described by one visitor as a Tommy Lee Jones look-alike with the fashion sense of Indiana Jones.

March 26th, 1930 – The Mary Sudik Well Erupts

A famous oil well in Oklahoma hit a high-pressure structure under Oklahoma City and caused an oil eruption in March of 1930. The Mary Sudik Well flowed untamed for 11 total days.

The well became known as “Wild Mary Sudik” after producing 200 million cubic feet of gas and 20,000 barrels of oil each day.

The large oilfield discovery in Oklahoma City caused a lot of buzz. It was highlighted in newsreels on the radio as the dangerous increase in pressure in the well was overlooked before the eruption occurred.

While there is still some debate on the official cause, one historian credits this disaster to the crew neglecting to fill the hole with mud.

Page 3 of 20« First...23451020...Last »