February 7, 1817 – The Advent of a New Technology Born in Baltimore

The nation’s first gas fuelled public street lamp lights up a street in Charm City and with that the Gas Light Company of Baltimore becomes the first commercial gas lighting service in the United States. Baltimore was the first city to begin using gas lit street lights outside of Europe, 110 years after they were introduced in London. 

In a move away from using oil to illuminate the streets, the enterprise used distilled wood and tar to produce the gas that would light up the darkness of Baltimore’s streets. This continued until electric lights began to be used more progressively throughout the 20th century, beginning after the First World War, with the final gas lamp being extinguished in 1957.

Forty years later, in 1997, a monument to the first ever street gas lamp was erected on the corner of North Holliday Street and Lemon Street, where a street lamp— a replica of the 19th century standard—stands decorated with a plaque reading “Site of the First Gas Street Lamp in America, February 7, 1817.” 

Esteemed Baltimore portrait artist and museum curator, Rembrandt Peale, following his brother Ruben’s footsteps in curating the Museum of the City of Philadelphia, presented a modern view of the city with the whole museum lit by gaslight. This innovation stunned local socialites and capitalists. In turn, Peale was able to acquire vital gas lighting patents and was able to establish the Gas Light Company of Baltimore (today known as BGE a subsidiary of Chicago based Exelon), an innovative enterprise which utilized incredibly smart technology for the time. With his “Gas lights, without oil, tallow, wick or smoke,” Peale changed the way American twilight looked forever.

A replica of the first gas powered street lamp in Baltimore, Maryland



February 9, 2013 – Drilling Makes it Way to Mars

Drilling expanded its horizons out into the galaxy on February 9, 2013. NASA received images from its Curiosity Rover stationed on Mars showing that it had bore a small hole in the surface of Mars, the first feat of its type by mankind on another planet in our solar system. At only 2.5 inches deep, the sampling hole is based in the Yellowknife basin of the Gale crater on the red planet, our second closest planetary neighbour in the solar system. 

The rover, which is only slightly larger than a terrestrial Mini Cooper, used its 7-foot robotic arm to carve a hole into a outcrop of flat rock to retrieve dust samples intended for analytical equipment within the rover itself. The findings are intended to determine whether Mars has ever offered a favourable environment for microbial life, and the findings have been ‘tremendously exciting’ according to Dr. Jim Green, Director of NASA Planetary Sciences Division at NASA HQ.

Upon drilling into the sedimentary rock, the resulting vibrations revealed a whitish powdery substance, thought to be calcium sulphate and other rust coloured dirt. The breathtaking images received from Curiosity show two drilling sites. The first is a shallow depression, marked only by the rotary-percussion drill bit being tested on the surface, then next to it, the fully bored well. The drill was of a low percussion to ensure that the bedrock was not shattered in the process of drilling. 

The current design of the Curiosity Rover will be the precursor to the next planned Rover mission to Mars, scheduled for 2020.

Stunning photos from the drilling expedition on the surface of Mars.



February 10, 1910 — Buena Vista Oilfield Established by Honolulu Oil Company

In 1910, one of the oldest and most prolific oil fields in the United States was discovered along the Kern River near Bakersfield. The Buena Vista oilfield was discovered by the Honolulu Oil Company and while originally used as a gas well, further drilling unveiled rich, oil-producing sands.

The oil field was known as ‘Honolulu’s Greatest Gasser’ until steam injection, an increasingly common method of extracting crude, helped extract between 3,000 to 4,000 barrels of the highly viscous heavy California oil.

Prior to the First World War, in 1912, under President William Taft, the United States Navy began to move from coal to oil for its warship boilers. The Buena Vista oilfield then became the Naval Oil Reserve No.2  following in the footsteps of the original reserve in Wyoming.

San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield California



February 10, 1917 – Establishment of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in Tulsa,

As oil use began to proliferate around the world from industrial to domestic usage, the demand for oil grew. In turn there was more of an economy for oil, but the methods of determining where a discovery could be made were still primitive, and the science was equally dubious. 

Enter the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), who organised as the Southwestern Association of Petroleum Geologists in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Convening in Henry Kendall College (later renamed Tulsa University), the association was a group of 90 scientists dedicated to promoting the science of geology in the Petroleum industries, but also in order to focus on technological “improvements in the methods of exploring for and exploiting these substances.” 

However, the main objective of the association was to establish a consensus group where only the most credible and reputed petroleum geologists would be given admittance.

They established Bulletin, a bi-monthly, peer-reviewed scientific journal was published by the AAPG, and included papers written by the leading contemporaneous geologists of the day. 

By 1920, the group’s membership had grown exponentially, but fears grew that some new members were less scrupulous than the original patrons. As noted in an oil trade publication, the group was trying to mitigate any “fakers” and “unscrupulous men inadequately prepared” for the geological work that stood in the way of the oil. Membership of the AAPG grew throughout the years, reaching 10,000 members by 1953. In the interim, in 1945, the AAPG teamed up with Boy Scouts of America by recognising the Geology Merit Badge.

AAPG Headquarters at 1444 S. Boulder Ave.,Tulsa Oklahoma



February 10, 1956- H.C. Price Company Tower Opens in Bartlesville, Oklahoma

The founder of H.C. Price Company, oil and natural gas pipe laying company, Harold Sr., opened the company’s new headquarters, the famous H.C. Price Company Tower in downtown Bartlesville, on February 10th, 1956. 

The tower was designed by the eminent architect Frank Lloyd Wright, including globally-recognized  Solomon R. Guggenheim building in New York. For Bartlesville, the Price Tower is a landmark and monument all in itself. 

The Price Company has been involved in two of the United States’ largest and most ambitious oil and gas undertakings. This includes the construction of Big Inch Pipeline, running from New Jersey to Texas, that was built as an emergency measure during the Second World War. They were also instrumental in the development of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System, or TAPS, which ran from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska. TAPS was an innovation in its own right, as the development brought with it myriad obstacles, namely permafrost. It was the first American pipeline which had to traverse isolated, frozen landscapes, and therefore required specially developed manifolds to withstand freezing temperatures. 

In 1974, the Price Company Tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places and today the ‘Prairie Skyscraper’ hosts an art centre, an inn and restaurant all under its roof.

The Price Company Tower



February 12, 1954 — Nevada Finally Becomes an Oil Producing State

Nevada finally becomes a commercial oil producing state in 1954 after decades of failed drilling attempts, beginning with an almost 2,000 ft attempt in Washoe County, Southwest of Reno in 1907. Shell Oil Company, famous the world over, struck oil on its second sortie into its Eagle Springs No. 1 Wellin Railroad Valley.

Starting out as a routine test, Eagle Springs bore more fruit than could ever have been expected, when it became a discovery well for the Railroad Valley Field— Nevada’s first significant oil field. More than 3.8 million barrels of oil came from Railroad Valley, while other oil fields of significance in Nevada were not easy to find. 

It would not be until 1976, more than two decades after the discovery in Reno, that another discovery would be made that resulted in commercial production. It was the work of the Northwest Exploration Company, with Trap Spring No.1 who made the discovery a whole 5 miles to the west of its Eagle Spring sister.



February 12, 1987 — Texaco Inc. Pays Up in Largest Single Oil Settlement To Date

After three years held up in court, a jury in the 1st District court of Houston upheld a decision made against Texaco Inc. for initiating a takeover of Getty Oil, following what was deemed a viable, binding agreement for Pennzoil to take control of the company.  

On February 12th, 1987, Pennzoil was awarded the largest single settlement in American judicial history when they won a suit against Texaco Inc. The lawsuit took over three years of court proceedings until a jury in the 1st District Court of Houston upheld their decision. 

Pennzoil was suing Texaco Inc. for initiating a takeover of Getty Oil, following what was deemed a viable, binding agreement for Pennzoil to take control of the company.  The interference, deemed deliberate by the jury, awarded $10.53 billion to Pennzoil in damages. This would later be settled for $3 billion in punitive damages.

According to a 1985 LA Times article, the outcome of the suit would set forth the standards and practices of morality in American business for years to come. It would dictate a plan that would restructure and guide how Texaco would act in the case of bankruptcy proceedings, which was a refuge sought to prevent Pennzoil from attaining the entirety of the revenue from the settlement.

Texaco’s world famous logo, changed in 1981.

January 31, 1888 – Oil Scout’s Death Brings Attention to Riders on the Hemlock

On January 31, 1888, oil scout Justus McMullen officially passed away from pneumonia at the age of 37. The civil engineer hailed from Cornell University and had been scouting data from the Pittsburgh Manufacturers Gas Company Well at Canonsburg. The scouts, known at the time as ‘Riders on the Hemlock,’ braved deadly conditions to debunk rumours about oil production reports—often under the watch of armed guards. 

McMullen was not only a scout but the creator of a newspaper in Bradford, PA called The Petroleum Age. This publication was vital to early oil field production, as his detective work (which was reportedly almost always reliable) would ‘demystify’ reports of production where there was none. This would prevent feverish investors, blinded by the prospect of succeeding in the oil boom, from being duped out of their oil certificate investments. 

In the wake of conflicting reports about the Canonsburg Well, McMullen set out to investigate for himself. Already sick at the time, McMullen was not satisfied with the hearsay evidence coming from the producers and set out through the night to gauge the flow from the well, if any at all. He stayed there for hours, chilled to the bone and was able to eventually gather the required information, which he brought home and dictated to his wife from his deathbed. 

While tips, misinformation and rouses continued to cause the market to behave erratically, McMullen’s diligence paid-off posthumously when Standard Oil declared to its subsidiaries that oil certificates were no longer to be sold, and that the market would be dictated by predetermined prices, set by its own reading of the industry’s supply and demand quotients.

‘Riders on the Hemlock’ as they were known, or oil scouts. Publisher, writer and detective Justus McMullen seated bottom right.



January 31 1945 — Petroleum Club of Houston Opens its Doors

The Petroleum Club of Houston on January 31st, 1945 under the vision of Wilbur Ginther, Howard C Warren and Harris Underwood. The Petroleum Club of Houston was founded following the ‘Security of the Clubs’ charter by the state of Texas. The group originally met on the top floor of the Rice Hotel, downtown, where they curated the idea for a club for independent men in the oil industry to have an exclusive meeting point to discuss the future of their industry in Texas. To this day, deals done here are sealed with a handshake, and this system epitomizes the tradition, honor, integrity and fraternity within the council.

Soon the growing club outgrew the top floor of The Rice Hotel and in 1963 they moved to the 43rd and 44th floor of the Exxonmobil Building. This is now home to some of Houston’s most prestigious and sought after social events. And in January 2015, now claiming well over 1200 members, the Petroleum Club of Houston opened another chapter in Houston which meets at the Total Plaza at 1201 Louisiana Street. The new facility was designed by leading Houstonian architectural firm, Kirskey architecture.

February 1, 1868 — Crude Oil Pricing Changes, Ushering in the End for Oil Exchanges

On February 1, 1868, it was announced that crude oil would be price-quoted based on specific gravity, marking the beginning of the end for oil exchanges. The new method involved comparing the heaviness of the substance against that of water. Newer oil regions in the North-East, such as in Pennsylvania, saw producers meet often to sell oil shares while arguing and fixing prices. The change to a standardized measurement was bemoaned by beneficiaries as “taking the fun out of the prospecting market” and “killing a great industry.”

In the modern age, the American Petroleum Institute (or API) uses its own gravity metric, which is now the international standard for measuring the gravity of the oil. Now we measure oil as light, medium and heavy; relative to its viscous gravity.



February 2, 1923 — Industry’s First Anti-Knock Gasoline Sold in Dayton, OH

In 1923, the first ever “anti-knock” gasoline hit the market in Dayton, Ohio, and while it would be short-lived this gasoline would change the gas industry forever. Early on in the development of internal combustion engines, an issue arose called ‘knocking’, which created a loud “knocking” noise and problems in the cylinders. 

The main issue occurring was out-of-sequence detonation of the gasoline and air mixture in the cylinder itself. The damage caused by the volatility of the knock would badly damage engines, so research chemists at General Motors, Thomas Midgley Jr. and Charles F. Kettering determined that there were beneficial components in tetraethyl lead that would aid in the anti-knocking process. In fact, with the addition of tetraethyl lead to the engine, the knocking abruptly stopped.

“Ethyl” as the product became known, was the world’s first anti-knock gasoline and was available at the Refiner’s Oil Company service station in Dayton, Ohio. It was popular among motorists and vital to the US aviation effort during the Second World War. Unfortunately for Ethyl, her life was short lived, because in 1950 geochemist Dr. Clair Patterson determined that the level of toxicity in Ethyl was much more grave than the researchers, executives and lobbyists had previously led the public to believe

Ethyl sits alongside regular and 3rd grade fuel for sale. It wouldn’t be long before it was off the market altogether.



February 3, 1868 — Oil Refiners Pass A Resolution to Reverse War Tax

Less than a year after Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate Army to Ulysses S. Grant, disgruntled refiners from Pennsylvania met and passed a resolution demanding the immediate repeal of a war tax that placed an extra $1 on each barrel of refined petroleum. 

From almost the beginning of the war, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase  was looking for ways to drum up finances. He had advocated for duty as much as ten times the $1 tax, more precisely, he wanted a tax of $6.30 on crude oil and $10.50 on refined product. 

In spite of the Union’s financial requirements during the Civil War, a $1 tax was added per barrel. Chase, prior to being appointed Secretary of the Treasury under Abraham Lincoln, in fact ran against Lincoln at the primary stage of the election, but supported him for the presidency.



February 4, 1910 — Buffalo Bill Cody Attempts to Break Into the Oil Industry

Known best for his globetrotting Wild West Show, Buffalo Bill, also known as William Cody, was arguably the most recognizable man in the early 1900s. Not satisfied with this level of success, he looked to extend his legacy into the world of oil, starting when he founded a town, which he named after himself. 

Cody, Wyoming was set up in 1896 after Bill purchased 7,500 shares of the Shoshone Oil Company. Accompanied by United States Representative of Wyoming, Frank Mondell, Cody began exploring near his township. The maiden drilling—a 500ft foray—was unsuccessful, and the second drilling was similarly unfruitful. The two ultimately ran out of money when the second well also turned up dry.

Almost a decade later, the two paired up again, forming Shoshone Oil, and on one trip to New York the pair was said to have carried hip flasks of oil in order to tempt investors. Unfortunately for Cody, Mondell and their enterprise, all of the significant oil discoveries (such as the Salt Creek oilfield) were made further south, and as Shoshone’s financial situation grew worse, the company’s drilling funds dried up and the company went out of business.

Capital stock from Shoshone Oil Company, later named Buffalo Bill Oil Company

January 9, 1862 – US Exports Oil For the First Time


(found here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_Watts.jpg)

Barrels similar to these would have been used to transport oil on board the Elizabeth Watts.


In 1862, America exported petroleum for the first time, marking the beginning of centuries of oil exportation in the United States. The oil traveled on the brig Elizabeth Watts which traveled from Philadelphia to London in a harrowing six week trip. Ship carried over 1300 barrels of oil and kerosene extracted from oil fields in Pennsylvania. 

At the time, the mission was seen as a very dangerous one, as there were fears that the brig would blow up carrying its explosive cargo. However, the Elizabeth Watts arrived safely in England. A year later, over 200,000 barrels of oil had been shipped out of the port of Philadelphia. It would be decades before specialized equipment for carrying oil and petroleum were invented.



January 10, 1870 – Rockefeller Founds Petroleum Juggernaut

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Oil)

A share certificate for the Standard Oil Company. In 1882, four years after this certificate was issued, Standard Oil would be reorganized into a trust in response to government efforts to limit the size of companies.


In 1870, John D. Rockefeller officially incorporated the Standard Oil Company, the world’s largest oil juggernaut. Initially based in Cleveland, Ohio, a large part of the company’s plan involved controlling as much of its business as possible while reducing costs for customers. Standard Oil cut its own timber, transported the cut logs, and used it to make their barrels; a move that allows them to cut their costs per barrel in half.

Scientists working for Standard Oil would also develop a process to increase the efficiency of the refining process. The company was well known for undercutting local businesses and buying them up, eventually coming to control the vast majority of U.S. oil refining and transportation.



January 10, 1901 – Spindletop Gusher Kicks Off Texas Oil Boom

(found here: https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/oil-on-canvas/)

This painting, entitled ‘Spindletop viewing her Gusher,’ was painted by Aaron Arion and commissioned by George Washington Carroll. Carroll was one of the original investors in Gladys City Oil, Gas, and Manufacturing Company. He was also the Prohibition Party’s candidate for Vice President in 1904.


On January 10, 1901, Captain Anthony F. Lucas struck oil on top of Spindletop HIll in Beaumont, Texas, in a move that would set the entire Texas oil boom in motion.

he Lucas Gusher, as it came to be known, as one of the most significant oil discoveries in the United States. The Spindletop oil field produced over 3 ½ million barrels in its first year. After 1902, however, production began to decline until the Yount-Lee Oil Company had another major oil strike in 1925. The discovery of the Spindletop oil field is also said to mark the beginning of the modern oil industry.



January 10, 1919 – Standard Oil Discovers Oil In Elk Hills, California

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elk_Hills_Oil_Field)

The Elk Hills oil field (pictured with three operating wells)is still active today, 100 years after its initial discovery.


The Elk Hills oil field isn’t only one of the highest-producing fields in the area, but also one of the oldest and has been active for over a century.

When oil was discovered in the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County, Southern California quickly became a highly productive area for petroleum. The Elk Hills oil field, one of the first major discoveries of the region, was leased, at the time, by Secretary Albert B. Fall to Harry Sinclair. The lease became the subject of a Senate investigation and led to the Teapot Dome Scandal.

The Elk Hills Field is close to Midway Sunset Oilfield, which is currently the largest in California.



January 10, 1921 – Arkansas Becomes Leading Oil Producer

(found here: http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2013/oct/03/exciting-times-live-downtown-el-dorado-20131003/)

In downtown El Dorado, Arkansas, this memorial to the boomtown years is part of the Oil Heritage Park. The statues commemorate the friendship of oil magnates Charles Murphy and Chesley Pruet.


1921 was a good year for the state of Arkansas, the Busey-Armstrong No. 1 well was spewing a fountain of oil, gas, and water and the oil field surrounding it would soon lead to a boom that would make Arkansas the leading oil producer in the country. In 1925 the field itself would be the leading oil producer in the United States as that year alon,e 70 million barrels were pumped by wells near El Dorado. 

This all happened when H.L. Hunt arrived in El Dorado, Arkansas to take part in the oil boom with just $50 of borrow money in his pocket. Hunt would eventually come to control large portions of the East Texas Oil Field, becoming one of the richest men in the world at the time. He fathered over a dozen children, was implicated in JFK assassination conspiracy theories, and provided the inspiration for the long running soap opera Dallas.



January 11, 1926 – Oil Discovery Leads To Founding Of Borger, Texas

(found here: http://www.hutchinsoncountymuseum.org/oil-boom-town.html)

This well near Borger, Texas, tapped into one of the largest oil fields in North America.


The town of Borger, Texas got its official start in 1926, when the Dixon Creek Oil and Refining Company completed the Smith No. 1 Well struck oil. Located in Hutchinson County, Texas, the well produced 10,000 barrels a day, leading to an oil boom and the founding of the Texas town.

A.P. “Ace” Borger, leased a large tract of land in the area and received a grant from the Texas Secretary of State to build a town near the profitable well. He had experience putting together boom towns, but Borger proved to be one of the fastest growing ever established. The town, which Ace named after himself, grew to a population of over 10,000 in just a few months. In addition to dividing and selling plots of land for construction, Ace also built hotels, a lumberyard and the town’s first bank within the town’s limits.

The town still celebrates its history with an ‘Oil Boom Heritage’ festival every spring.



January 12, 1904 – Ford Sets Automobile Speed Record

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_999)

Henry Ford standing beside the 999 racing automobile, with driver Barney Oldifield.


In 1904, Henry Ford was having trouble raising money for his first production car, the Model T. In order to get a little positive publicity, Ford raced across a frozen Anchor Bay in Lake St. Clair, drumming up attention from many spectators. With Ford driving and his mechanic Ed Huff operating the throttle, the car set a record speed of over 90 miles an hour. Ford only held the record for a few weeks, but that was enough to help him raise the funding he needed for the new model.

The automobile was essentially a huge engine on wheels, steered using a basic, pivoting metal bar. The car was said to produce anything from 70 to 100 horsepower and before setting the speed record, the Model T had won several automobile races. It was the proceeds from the car’s first race that allowed Henry Ford to start his automobile company. Ford sold his stake in the car to Barney Oldfield, but retained publicity rights and one of the world’s most notable auto companies was born.



January 12, 1926 – Gushers Ended By Blowout Preventer

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowout_preventer)

This modern blowout preventer still uses the same basic principle developed by Abercrombie and Cameron.


While a gushing oil wells is picturesque and a classic image from the early days of oil drilling, oil spraying out of the ground at this high of pressure was both wasteful and dangerous. In 1926, in an effort to help prevent the kinds of “blow outs” that led to gushers, two men introduced the ram-type blowout preventer. It was a device that would save millions of dollars and change the drilling industry for ever.

James Abercrombie brought his idea to a machine shop operated by Harry Cameron and the two designed the device together.. Essentially, when a well blew out two ‘rams’, or hydrostatic pistons, would close around the drill stem. This would close the top of the well and prevent the characteristic gushing of oil, water and gas.



January 13, 1957 – The First Frisbees Are Made From A Petroleum Product

(found here: http://www.parkcirclediscgolf.com/disc-golf-history.htm)

The original Frisbees were pie tins from the Frisbie Pie Company of New Haven, Connecticut. After eating the pie, students from the nearby Yale and Dartmouth would toss the tins around. ‘Frisbie’ became a common term for flying discs used to play games.


The year 1957 saw the first ever Frisbees made from petroleum products. The original Flyin’ Saucers were sold by Partners in Plastic, but the toy really became a big hit after Wham-O bought the rights and released the Frisbee in 1957.

Wham-O made their discs from the new material that had been invented at Phillips Petroleum, a high density polyethylene that was marketed as Marlex. This petroleum product allowed Wham-O to meet the large demand for the number of Frisbees required by the toy’s wild popularity. In 1958, Wham-O released another toy made from Marlex, the Hula Hoop.



January 14, 1928 – Dr. Seuss Starts His Day Job – Drawing Ads For Standard Oil

(found here: https://kingofromania.com/2012/10/24/quick-henry-the-flit/)

Theodore Geisel created many catchy and memorable ad campaigns for Standard Oil. This ad for Flit bug spray was his first.


It’s hard to think of Dr. Seuss as anything but a beloved children’s author. However, his characteristic style was first put on display in advertisements for Standard Oil. Before switching to his now-infamous pen name, the then Theodore Geisel worked for many years creating advertisements for various Standard Oil subsidiaries. 

His first big campaign was for Flit bug spray and featured Seuss’ unique drawing style. The tagline, ‘Quick, Henry, the Flit,’ became a common phrase throughout the U.S. and around the world. Geisel worked for the large petroleum company during the difficult years of the Great Depression, when paying work for artists was hard to find. Geisel would continue to produce hundreds of ads, developing his artistic style along the way. Geisel also credited his time working with Standard Oil as teaching him how to put words and pictures together, a skill he would use to create classic children’s tales.

December 20, 1913 – Cosden Opens New Refinery In Tulsa

(found here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cosden_Building,_1920s,_Tulsa._OK.jpg)

The Cosden Building, now known as the Mid-Continent Building, was Tulsa, Oklahoma’s first skyscraper. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Oklahoma’s Prince of Petroleum, Joshua Cosden Sr, opened a brand-new refinery in Tulsa, OK in 1913. The massive building, which was the city’s first skyscraper, could produce up to 30,000 barrels a day. It was one of the largest refineries every opened in the United States, and is still in operation today.

Cosden would use the success of his two refineries to incorporate Cosden and Company, which would go on to organize the Cosden Pipeline Company and the Cosden Oil and Gas Company. His business ventures were successful enough to earn him a fortune of over $50 million, which he would go on to spend lavishly.

In the 1920s, he lost all of his money and his companies were bought by the Mid-Continent Petroleum Company. Undaunted, Cosden relocated to Texas and made a second fortune drilling wells. Unfortunately for Cosden, it seemed as though history would repeat itself as this second fortune was wiped out in the Great Depression.



December 20, 1951 –  Minor Oil Deposits In Washington

(found here: http://blackdiamondnow.typepad.com/.a/6a00e5513924e68833019104eea06a970c-800wi)

Flaming Geyser Park, located south of Seattle, Washington, is named for a flame that was fueled by a pocket of natural gas 1,000 ft below the surface. When the exploratory well first hit the pocket, it sent a geyser of flame 25 ft in the air. The gas has since been exhausted and the flame no longer burns.


On December 20th, 1951, the Hawksworth Gas and Oil Development Company found a minor deposit of petroleum and natural gas in Washington State. The Tom Hawksworth State No. 4 Well would produce only 35 barrels a day and was abandoned as not having commercial potential. This would only mark a future of letdowns for the state of Washington and the many companies looking to find their fortune in the area.

Well No. 4 would be reopened by the Sunshine Mining Company 16 years later. The company deepened it, but production did not improve and it was shut in once more.

The only commercial well in Washington was located only a few hundred yards away from the Tom Hawksworth No. 4 Well. That well was also completed by the Sunshine Mining Company, in 1959. However, it too would close only two years later.

Several hundred wells were drilled around the state and exploration efforts continued well into the 21st century. However, no other significant deposits have been found and it’s unlikely that there is much petroleum located in the state.



December 21, 1842 –  Birth Of an Oil Town “Aero View” Artist

(found here: https://howlingpixel.com/wiki/Wichita_Falls,_Texas)

Thaddeus Fowler would produce hundreds of panoramic views of different cities, from New Jersey to Texas. Though he worked all over the country, he is best known for producing views of oil towns in Pennsylvania.


On December 21, 1842, Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler was born and would eventually go on to be one of the most notable oil town artists in the country. Generally credited as T.M. Fowler, in the art world, this artist and cartographer is well known for producing birds’ eye view maps of cities across the country. He was one of the more prolific of the artist to produce these views, which were popular toward the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century.

Though he would produce renderings of many cities, including Trenton, New Jersey; Sisterville, West Virginia; and Wichita Falls, Texas; he was best known for producing views of oil boom towns in Pennsylvania. For a small fee, the artist would include inset views of homes and businesses.



December 22, 1875 – Pennsylvania Ave. Paved With Natural Asphalt

(found here: http://neftianniki.blogspot.com/p/pitch-lake-natural-bitumen-lake.html)

Trinidadian bitumen, or natural asphalt, is sourced from Pitch Lake. It was a source of asphalt, used for paving in England and North America. Today, it is a tourist attraction.


In 1875, Pennsylvania Avenue, the main street through Washington D.C., was paved with asphalt. It was one of the first and one of the biggest projects of its type. The project marked a major milestone in the development of the nation’s capital and it came just four years after the city attempted to pave the main throughway with wooden blocks–a feat that would prove to be problematic.

President Ulysses S Grant made the decision to have the street paved with bitumen, naturally sourced asphalt. The project took two years to fully complete and covered over 50,000 acres in asphalt.

The bitumen paving lasted about a decade. In 1907, the avenue is repaved again with higher quality asphalt distilled from petroleum sourced from within the U.S.. In the 21st century, over 2.5 million miles of roads are now paved in this way.



December 22, 1903 – Baker Tools Founder Patents First Cable Tool Bit

(found here: http://www.ocregister.com/2014/11/19/a-bit-of-oc-history-in-big-oil-deal/)

R.C. Baker stands with a stack of casing shoes of his own design.


In 1903, the owner of Coalinga Oil Company, Reuben Carlton Baker, invented and patented a new type of cable-tool drill that would change the drilling industry forever.

The bit addressed a problem Baker faced while drilling in Coalinga County, California. The great deal of hard rock in the area made fitting casing downhole difficult and the drill-bit Baker developed allowed the drilling of a hole larger than the casing.

Baker became an active member of the Coalinga community, helping to found a bank, power company and a few other oil companies. Baker also went on to create the Baker Tool Company to manufacture and sell many improvements he had made for drilling equipment.

Without much formal education (never having progressed past third grade), Baker built a successful business and patented a number of inventions. The Baker Tool Company still exists today and since 1987 has been operating under the name Baker Hughes International.



December 22, 1975 – President Ford Creates Strategic Reserve

(found here: https://energy.gov/articles/history-strategic-petroleum-reserve)

Seen here is President Gerald Ford signing the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which established the first strategic petroleum reserve.


On December 22nd, 1975, President Ford signed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act into law; a law that still has a major impact on our country and the oil and gas industry today. As part of that law, a reserve of petroleum was put aside to help prevent oil and gas crises like that which arose after OPEC placed an embargo on oil exports to the United States.

Today, there are almost 700 million barrels of petroleum set aside, the largest stockpile of oil owned by a government in the world. It is stored along the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana.

The act, which created the reserve, also set fuel economy standards for automobiles and gave the Department of Energy authority to set standards on appliances and consumer goods for energy conservation.

November 28, 1892 — First Oilfield West Of Mississippi is Discovered

(found here: https://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/44757)

The original Norman No. 1 well was abandoned after it stopped producing, but a replica was built on its site in the 1960s to mark the site.


Until 1892, no oil was ever discovered west of the Mississippi River. However, on November 28th of this year, the Normon No. 1 Well started sprouting oil in eastern Kansas. It was the first well to tap the huge Mid-Continent oil province, and ultimately lead to the big oil rush in the West.

The well was less than 1000 ft deep, but produced a gushing flow of petroleum. At the time, a sample of the oil was sent to Pennsylvania, one of the country’s major oil producing regions of the time. The sample established the potential of oil discoveries in the western US, and encouraged further exploration in the western portion of the country.

The Mid-Continent region would eventually contain hundreds of oilfields, though most of the easily obtainable oil would be extracted fairly quickly. There are still fields that are producing oil today, but enhanced recovery techniques are needed to get oil out of these areas.



November 28, 1895 — Chicago Hosts First Automobile Race

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Frank_Duryea)

For a brief time in the late 1800s, the Duryea brothers would be the biggest producers of gas powered automobiles, building 13 by hand in 1896.


In 1895, America saw its first ever automobile race when Herman H. Kohlstaat, who owned the Chicago Herald-Tribune, organized the very first event of its kind. It was quite different than the gas-powered races we are used to today. The race covered 54 miles, running from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois, and back. The race took place during a freezing snowstorm and several of the drivers didn’t finish due to the cold.

The winner, J. Frank Duryea, completed the race in 10 ½ hours, averaging just over 5 miles an hour. His prize money for finishing the event was $2,000. The race would draw attention to the ‘horseless carriage’ and spearheaded America’s love affair with cars.



December 1, 1865 — Shakespeare In Pithole, Pennsylvania

(found here: https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g53459-d12207004-i245022196-Pithole_Visitors_Center-Pleasantville_Pennsylvania.html)

The site of the Murphy Theatre is marked by this placard. Today, there is little trace of the building in the ghost town.


Pithole, Pennsylvania, a small town fueled by a big oil boom reached its peak when it hosted a star-filed Shakespeare production. The production, which featured Eloise Bridges, one of the most famous actresses of the time playing Lady Macbeth, took place at the local Murphy Theater. The event proved just how popular these oil boom towns could be. Pithole, which started with a population of just 2,000 grew to a population of over 20,000 in just one year, and began hosting big events such as this.

Murphy’s Theatre, where Eloise Bridges played the famous Shakespearean role, was the largest building in the town. It could seat over 1,000 people and was three stories high, embodying the sudden wealth and intemperance of the oil boom. Bridges would sell out the theatre every night, seven days a week, for the length of the show’s run.

Shortly afterward, the nearby oilfield was played out. The oil boom was followed quickly by a bust and by the next year the town’s population would be back down to 2,000 people. Businesses relocated or closed, and a series of fires began to take a toll on the empty town. It was eventually abandoned entirely, becoming a ghost town covered by grass and trees.



December 1, 1901 — Creation of the Indian Territory Illuminating Oil Company

(found here: http://eagle.okwu.edu/2011/09/26/history-renewed/)

Henry Foster’s La Quinta Mansion now serves as an administration building for Oklahoma Wesleyan University.


In 1896, Kansas banker, Henry Foster applied for an oil lease on the Osage Indian Reservation. At the time, the area was in the Indian Territory, though it would later become Osage County, Oklahoma. This lead to the formation of the Indian Territory Illuminating Oil Company (ITIO) an organization dedicated to exploiting the oil fields in the area.

Henry Foster passes away before the lease could be granted, so his brother Edwin would sign the lease instead. Initially, the lease was divided between Osage Oil Company and Phoenix Oil Company. The Osage Indians received a royalty of 10% on the petroleum produced.

However, the first drillings were not very successful, so the two companies ultimately joined forces, and was purchased by Theodore Barnsdall. Under new leadership, ITIO drilled over 350 new, producing wells. The company would be sold once more to the Empire Distributing Gas Company for approx. $40 million, making it one of the biggest and most profitable drilling companies of its time.



December 1, 1913 – Pittsburgh Gets the First Dedicated Filling Station in America

(found here: http://www.mapsofpa.com/article5.htm)

In addition ot gas, the first filling station offered free air and water.


The first purpose-built gas filling station opened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1913, paving the way for hundreds of thousands of gas stations to eventually open up across the country. Located at the corner of St Clair Street. and Baum Boulevard, the station featured a marquee with electric lights, engine service and tire installation. The filling station was built and operated by Gulf Refining Company, a petroleum company that was based in southern states, but had refineries in Pennsylvania.

On opening day, the station charged $0.27 per gallon. It sold only 30 gallons on its first day, though by that weekend it was selling over 300 gallons per day. Before filling stations became common, those with cars typically got their gas and general stores or hardware stores.

In addition to building the first service station, Gulf Oil was the first company to offer road maps to customers. These early maps showed the locations of the Gulf Oil filling stations and were drawn by ad man W.B. Adkins, who came up with the idea. Eventually, Gulf would hire professional map maker l Rand McNally to produce their road maps.



December 1, 1960 – Lucille Ball Stars in Oil Musical

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildcat_(musical))

Lucille Ball performed some songs from the musical on The Ed Sullivan Show.


Beloved TV icon, Lucielle Ball took the leading role in the musical Wildcat, a show about a down-on-her-luck female oil prospector. The play opened on Broadway on December 1, 1960 and marked the first, and last, time that the I Love Lucy star would appear on Broadway. Though Ball was popular, the show did not do well and was panned by critics. Lucille Ball was ill through much of the show’s run and the production ultimately closed when the actress collapsed on stage in May of 1961.



December 2, 1970 – Creation of the Environmental Protection Agency

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Environmental_Protection_Agency)

William Ruckelshaus served as the EPA’s first administrator.


On December 2nd, 1970, President Nixon officially launched the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to provide a single agency responsible for research, setting standards, and regulation enforcement. While, at the time, some thought the environmental protection movement was a passing fad, the EPA has remained an active agency ever since .

Along with the launch of the EPA, the government also created the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with the goal of exploring, developing, and preserving marine resources in the US.



December 4, 1928 – Reflection Seismology Used to Locate Oil Field

(found here: http://www.enviroscan.com/home/seismic-refraction-versus-reflection)

Reflection seismology is similar to radar or sonar systems, bouncing a signal off denser material to produce a ‘map’ of the local geology.


In 1928, the introduction of a new technology would make drilling for oil less of a gamble, completely changing the oil industry forever. Reflection seismology uses controlled explosions to send sound waves into the ground which pass through less dense soil and bounce off denser rock. The patterns of these waves provide valuable clues on where oil may or may not be located.

Amerada Petroleum was the first company to use the method successfully while scouting locations for drilling in Oklahoma. The technology was originally developed to locate artillery emplacements during World War I.



December 4, 1928 – Oil Discovered In Oklahoma City

(found here: http://www.npr.org/2015/02/16/386693615/with-quakes-spiking-oil-industry-is-under-the-microscope-in-oklahoma)

A working oil rig is located right in front of the Oklahoma State Capitol.


The Indian Territory Illuminating Oil Company completes the Oklahoma City No. 1 well, located just south of the city limits.

While the state of Oklahoma had already been known for its oil production for decades, it wasn’t until 1928 that drillers found oil in the state’s capital city. The Indian Territory Illuminating Oil Company completed the Oklahoma City No. 1 Well, located just south of the city limits, on December 4th.

The well produced over 100,000 barrels in its first month of operation, encouraging others to drill wells in the area, up north and right up to the capitol building. In fact, there is a working oil rig still located directly in front of Oklahoma’s State Capital.

Within a few years, over 800 wells producing oil were drilled and further discoveries occur in 1930, prompting more oil development. However, the explosion of oil production ultimately prompted the city to prevent companies from drilling in the northern part of the city to help protect some of the capital’s urban areas.

November 21, 1925 — Small Oil Companies Merge to Form Magnolia Petroleum

(found here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g56818-d7034106-i260150908-Magnolia_Gas_Station-Vega_Texas.html)

Magnolia Petroleum operated over 500 service stations across from Texas to Arkansas.


In 1925, several small oil companies decided to join forces to start a chain of reactions that would eventually lead to the creation of the widely recognizable ExxonMobil. At the time, the companies came together to create Magnolia Petroleum. Though the Magnolia brand name did not exist until that year, the companies had been managed as part of an association of owners holding stock in every business. The different companies had sold petroleum across the South in over 500 gas stations.

However, Magnolia didn’t stay an independent company for long. Only a month after its founding, Standard Oil bought Magnolia and most of its stations and assets. Magnolia Petroleum would continue to exist as a subsidiary of the much larger company until 1959.

That year it was merged with Mobile Oil. Both companies began to use the Pegasus brand that has been the symbol of Mobil stations since. Eventually, the company would be part of the merger that created ExxonMobil.



November 22, 1905 — New Oilfield Leads to Tulsa Boom

(found here: https://www.legendsofamerica.com/ok-tulsa.html)

Tulsa’s oil boom would lead to a population boom, that brought almost 100,000 residents to the city in just 15 years.


In 1905, a major discovery south of Tulsa in the Indian Territory lead to one of the largest oil strikes in the US, and to the city’s subsequent title of being “The Oil Capital of the World.”

The Ida Glenn No. 1 was the first of many wells in the Glenn Pool. The unique name of this history-making well came from the Native American woman, Ida Glenn, who owned the land and leased it to oil companies.

The Glenn Pool strike would soon prove more productive than the earlier Red Fork oil discovery just a few miles to the north. The land would also prove to be richer than the famous Spindletop oilfield in Texas. 

By 1907, when Tulsa became part of the new Oklahoma State, it was producing more oil than any other state in the Union. Thanks to such high production levels, Tulas would become known as the ‘Oil Capital of the World.’ The Glenn Pool oilfield is still producing today, thanks to modern techniques for enhancing oil recovery.



November 22, 2003 — Smithsonian Opens Permanent Exhibit on US Transportation

(found here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g28970-d103446-i205322820-National_Museum_of_American_History-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html)

The ‘America On The Move’ exhibit covers the effects changing forms of transportation had on US history and society, as well as offering a behind-the-scenes look at how the Smithsonian assembles exhibitions.


In 2003, the Smithsonian unveiled a new permanent exhibit that would highlight the impact and changes that transportation has had on our country’s history. The new National Museum of American History exhibit called ‘American On The Move’ includes authentic examples of automobiles, a 200 ton locomotive, and other forms of transportation.

It sprawls over 25,000 square feet of the museum and shows a chronology of technological advances through history using hundreds of items. The $22 million dollar exhibition is intended to allow visitors to see how changes in transportation, from horse and buggy to jetliners, changed the United States; and of course, the impact that the oil and gas industry has had on those developments.



November 23, 1951 — Mole Men Emerge From Oil Well In First Superman Movie

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman_and_the_Mole_Men)

George Reeves starred as Superman for the first movie that featured any character from the DC comics lineup.


In 1951, the very first Superman movie hit the silver screen. Titled “Superman and the Mole Men’ the popular film’s plot revolved around drilling of the world’s deepest oil well. Clark Kent and Lois Lane, played by George Reeves and Phyllis Coates, travel to Silsby, the fictional home of Havenhurst Experimental No. 1 oil well.

Instead of striking oil, the well, which is drilled to 32,000 feet, finds the home of the subterranean mole men. When the bald creatures climb to the surface to explore they are met with fear by the townspeople. Luckily, Superman is there to save the day and restore peace.

The movie was well received and was the first appearance of George Reeves as Superman, a role he would become well known for as he continued to play the character on TV until 1958. The deepest well in the US at the time of the film’s release was 20,521 ft.



November 23, 1953 — Natalie O. Warren Sets Sail For the First Time

(found here: http://tulsahistory.org/learn/past-exhibits/warren-the-man-the-company/)

The Natalie O. Warren, the first seagoing ship designed to carry LPG, is named for the wife of oilman and philanthropist William K. Warren.


The Natalie O. Warren, the first ship designed to carry liquefied petroleum gas, set sail from Houston to Newark, NJ on a cold November day in 1953. The ship had been converted from a cargo freighter by the Bethlehem Steelyard for the Warren Petroleum Corporation.

The ship was an experimental design, created to carry almost 40,000 barrels of LPG in vertical pressure tanks. Deemed a highly successful experiment, the voyage led to the construction of many more LPG carrying vessels. Modern versions of the Natalie O. can carry almost 20 times the amount of LPG of the original ship.



November 25, 1875 — Cross Country Oil Transportation Begins

(found here: http://www.conocophillips.com/who-we-are/our-legacy/history/Pages/1929-1910.aspx)

Continental Oil Company would later merge with Marland Oil to form Conoco.


In the late 1800’s, kerosene was less expensive in the eastern US than in western states such as Utah and Colorado. The dramatic cost difference convinced Isaac Blake that there was money to be made in transporting cheap eastern kerosene out west.

Blake formed the Continental OIl and Transportation Company and began buying kerosene in bulk out east and then bringing it west to Utah to sell. Soon, the company bought two tanker cars designed to be used on the railroad, the first of its kind to be go so far west. The addition of these tanker cars allowed the company to expand, transporting kerosene from a Cleveland refinery to Colorado and then to California. 

In 1885, the company was bought by Standard Oil, but following the 1911 federally mandated dissolution of the monopoly, Continental was reformed as Conoco. After a merger in 2002 the company became the modern ConocoPhillips.



November 27, 1941 —  Emma Summers, ‘Queen Of Oil,’ Dies


(found here: https://www.geoexpro.com/articles/2013/02/emma-summers-oil-queen-of-california)

Emma Summers was born Emma McCutchen in Kentucky.


One of the most influential oil tycoons in southern California, Mrs. Emma Summers, passed away on November 27th, 1941 at the age of 83. Though she studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and worked as a piano teacher when she first came to Los Angeles, a series of wise investments led Summers to become a successful and wealthy oil baroness.

After Emma and her husband Alpha moved to southern California, she noted the amazing growth of the oil business in the area. Her home in the city was actually just a short distance from where the oilfield had been discovered. Using the $700 she had earned teaching piano, she bought a half interest in a well. That profitable venture led to further investments until she came to largely control the entire Los Angeles oil market.

November 8, 1880 – Edwin Laurentine Drake Dies

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Drake)

A monument located in Titusville, Pennsylvania was constructed 1901 to honor Edwin Drake.


Edwin Drake drilled just three wells in his life, but he is widely considered to be the father of the US oil industry-as he was the first American to successfully drill an oil well. Located in Titusville, Pennsylvania, it first produced oil in 1859, and started the U.S. petroleum industry. Twenty years after his ground-breaking discovery,, Drake passed away in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

While the oil industry would bring wealth to many people, Drake invested poorly and his money was soon lost in speculation. He also never patented his innovative idea behind how to drill for oil.

Ill and living in poverty, Drake would be voted a pension for his support to recognize his achievements. Decades after his death, his contributions would finally be fully recognized. Henry Rogers, an executive with Standard Oil, would have his body re-interred in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

Once he was returned to the town where his historic well was drilled, a monument was built in Drake’s honor. The monument includes a bronze statue called ‘The Drifter.’



November 10, 1854 – George Bissell Buys Land For First Commercial Oil Well

(found here: http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/how-the-history-of-petroleum-was-made-in-new-england/)

The Drake well after striking oil.


In 1854, George Bissell bought 100 acres containing oil seeps from the Brewer, Watson & Company lumber company. He believed that when oil was refined it could be made into kerosene as a fuel for lamps.

Following up on his suspicions, he asked Professor Benjamin Sillman Jr. to investigate. After Sillman confirmed that kerosene could be used as a fuel, Bissell hired Edwin Drake to drill on the sight of the oil seeps. Drake would go on to drill the first commercial oil well in the United States.



November 10, 1914 – Woodrow Wilson Opens Houston Ship Channel

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Ship_Channel)

The Houston Ship Channel provides a deep water path to one of the busiest seaports in the US.


The discovery of oil, along with increased agriculture, lead to increased ship traffic into the Port of Houston and a number of issues for those trying to access the port. This is when the historic Houston Ship Channel came to life.

Dredged out of the Buffalo Bayou, it provided a wider, deeper path into the port. The swampy and overgrown area is dredged to a depth of 25 feet.

What was perhaps most unique about the opening of this channel is that President Woodrow Wilson opened it remotely from the White House, saluting and pressing an ivory button that was wired to a cannon in Houston.



November 11, 1884 – Six Gas Companies Combine to Form ConEd in New York

(Found here: https://gizmodo.com/11-birds-eye-views-show-how-nyc-has-grown-over-350-year-1631890458)

A painting of New York in 1873. Competing gas companies would often sabotage each other.


In 1884, six major companies that were servicing the gas lights in New York City came together to form the Consolidated Gas Company; which would go on to become Consolidated Edison. This was an unprecedented move as gas companies used sabotage one another in this highly competitive industry, which was often plagued with brawls over the placement and repair of gas lines.

The first of these companies, New York Gas Light Company, was created in 1823 by a charter from the state legislature. The company’s focus was a street lights, rather than home lights, and they worked to replace the whale oil fueled lamps that has been in use since the mid 1700’s.

Five other companies were eventually dedicated to serving New York City before the merger in 1884, often in heavy competition. Workers would regularly tear up city streets to lay new lines or repair existing ones, in the process taking the time to pull out the lines of rival companies.



November 12, 1899 – Mary Alford and Her Nitro Factory Becomes Famous

(found here: http://jfgvictoryverlag.com/eldred/nationalpowder.html)

Byron Alford was an entrepreneur who counted oil, lumber, and explosives among his business ventures. When he died in 1898, his wife took over.


In 1888, when successful businessman and serial investor, Byron Alford was looking to expand his growing business empire, he decided to purchase an explosives factory.

However, when he died just one year later, his wife, Mary Alford, took over the management of the factory. She had studied the business while her husband was alive and was able to run it successfully, becoming the only woman in the world at that time to own a nitroglycerin factory. She was even profiled in a New York newspaper in an article for her work with the massive factory.

Nitroglycerin, among other things, was used to increase the flow of oil in an early form of fracking. ‘Torpedoes’ full of nitro were lowered into the well and exploded, forcing open the rock so more oil come reach the well bottom.



November 12, 1916 – The Establishment of the New Forest Oil Company

(found here: https://www.bizjournals.com/denver/blog/earth_to_power/2014/12/forest-oil-sabine-complete-merger-hq-to-be-in.html)

Forest Oil’s logo shows a keystone in a yellow dog lamp, and was established at the company’s founding in 1916.


When Forest Oil first opened its doors in November of 1916, the company’s innovative approach to enhancing the recovery of oil would quickly prove to be a groundbreaking move for the industry. The approach was rather simple, as it pumped water into a formation to push the oil toward the well.

This technique, called water-flooding, would quickly become common practice around the oil industry. Increasingly effective water-flooding techniques have extended the lives of some wells by many years.

Forest Oil still exists today, though it has merged with several other oil companies over the years. Its headquarters can now be found in Colorado.



November 12, 1999 – American Chemical Society Names Discovery of Plastics a Landmark in the History of Chemistry

(found here: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/polypropylene.html)

The ACS published this commemorative booklet to mark the occasion.


The development of high-density polypropylene would forever change the way we manufacture goods in our world today. The widely used plastic was such an innovation that in 1999 the American Chemical Society named its discovery a National Historical Chemical Landmark.

The designation was bestowed at the Bartlesville, Oklahoma facility of the Phillips Petroleum Company were the discovery was made.

Robert Banks and J. Paul Hogan are credited with the discovery, which involved finding a new process for creating solid polymers from hydrocarbons. Using their process, the two were able to produce crystalline polypropylene and polyethylene.

These two substances have been modified and refined to make most of the plastics that are widely used in our world today.. While the substances were initially used by toy companies, they can now be seen everywhere, from your bathroom to the factory floor.



November 13, 1925 – Spindletop Booms Again

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spindletop)

The Spindletop No. 1 gusher, which was originally drilled in 1901 and set the Texas Oil Boom in motion.


Texas saw its second big oil boom in 1925 when the Yount-Lee Oil Company began operations at The McFadden No. 2 Wel. This massive well would go on to produce thousands of barrels of oil a day. The McFadden No. 2 was drilled somewhat south of the original Spindletop well, though it draws from the same formation.

The Yount-Lee Company was founded by Miles Yount, Thomas Peter Lee, and a number of other partners. Yount believed that the Spindletop Field, which had seen falling production after the initial boom, still had a bunch of oil in it.

His predictions proved to be right on that date in 1925, some 24 years after the Spindletop No.1 first produced oil. The McFadden No. 2 went down to 2,500 ft and its discovery fueled a second major oil boom in Texas.

October 26, 1970 – Joe Roughneck Statue Dedicated in Texas

(found here: https://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/47631)

The ‘Joe Roughneck’ statue was dedicated by Texas Governor Preston Smith in 1970. It is at a rest stop off Highway 64 and marks the site of a time capsule to be opened in 2056.

In the 1950s and 60s, no one in the state of Texas could go about town without seeing the cartoon image of Joe Roughneck. This recognizable character started as part of an advertising campaign for the Lone Star Steel Company, but soon he was adopted by the entire oil industry. 

In October of 1970, Joe got the credit he deserved for his work in bringing awareness to this industry, when a Joe Roughneck statue was dedicated on the anniversary of the discovery of a giant natural gas field near Boonsville, Texas. 

The field was discovered 20 years previously by the Lone Star Gas Company at its Vaught No. 1 well. Over those two decades, between discovery and dedicated of the statue, the natural gas field would produce 2.5 billion cubic feet of output. By 2001, over 3 trillion cubic feet had been produced by more than 3,000 wells. 

Not only does a Joe Roughneck bust mark three other oilfield monuments, not including the one in Boonesville, he’s also an award himself. Since 1955, the Chief Roughneck Award is given by the Independent Petroleum Association of America to a petroleum executive to honor their achievements and character. 

The bust used for this coveted award was sculpted another native Texan, artist Torg Thompson, whose work is still on display today every time one of these awards is handed out.



October 27, 1763 – William Maclure is Born

(found here: http://libweb5.princeton.edu/visual_materials/maps/websites/thematic-maps/quantitative/geology/geology.html)

This map says it is, ‘designed to illustrate the Geological Memoir of Wm. Maclure, Esqr.’ It is a detailed geological map put together by William Maclure.

Though William Maclure was born in Scotland, he created some of the earliest geological maps of the United States and what would become Canada and Mexico, were actually created by a man born in Scotland. Starting in 1809, WIlliam Maclure began crafting these geological maps after coming to the US in 1797 and exploring the eastern part of the country. 

His first map was the result of his journey in 1808 from Maine to Georgia and was first published in the Transaction of the American Philosophical Society. 

He correctly identified the Appalachian Mountains as the oldest rock in the region, as well as outlining six different regions of distinct geology. His studies and maps led to a certain amount of fame in scientific circles and when the American Geological Society was formed by Benjamin Sillman in 1819, Maclure became its first president. 

Thanks to his work and his role as president of the AGS, many geologists consider him the “Father of American Geology.”



October 27, 1938 – DuPont’s Synthetic Yarn is Dubbed ‘Nylon’

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_Carothers)

Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers, who lead the team that developed Nylon and other synthetic fibers and materials.


Nylon may seem like a very common fiber used in clothes and accessories today, but when it was first derived in 1935, it was anything short of miraculous. A Dupont team lead by Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers used different compounds derived from petroleum to develop this synthetic yarn that would soon be dubbed “Nylon.” However, Carothers himself, always called it Nylon-6, due to the its molecular structure, which included 6 carbon atoms. 

Nylon has become recognized as the first truly commercially successful synthetic polymer. It has since been used in a number of applications, including consumer goods like stockings, tents, safety equipment, and more. It has also found use in the medical and even aerospace fields, proving just how revolutionary this petroleum-based fiber really was.



October 27, 1923 – Lion Oil Refinery Is Founded


In 1923, Lion Oil would begin to operate a refinery in El Dorado, Arkansas.


October 27th, 1923 marked the birth of the soon-to-be-famous Lion Oil Refinery company. 

Thomas Harry Barton reorganized the El Dorado Natural Gas Company into the Lion Oil Refinery Company after Barton acquired a massive refinery the year before The company would grow and begin processing thousands of barrels a day and a few years later would purchase a number of oil wells to operate them directly–aiding in the rapid growth of the industry at this time.

Lion Oil would later by bought and merge with Monsanto, retiring the well known leaping lion logo. However, Lion Oil is still around today, and the name is still used to market a range of petroleum products.


October 28, 1926 – Oil Discovered On Failing West Texas Ranch

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yates_Oil_Field)

The Yates Oilfield in West Texas is one of many that draws from the Permian Basin.


In 1926, Ira Yates was struggling to pay for his ranch, located in West Texas just north of the Chihuahua Desert. The lack of water and predation made it a difficult business. To pay his taxes and the mortgage, he convinced the San Angelo based Transcontinental Oil Company to drill a wildcat well on his property. 

While it seemed like a risk at the time, the wildcat drillers used a standard cable-tool rig and struck into the rich Permian Basin formation.

The Ira Yates 1-A Well produced nearly 500 barrels a day. Soon after, four more wells were drilled for another 12,000 barrels a day, making it one of the largest collections of wells of its time. As the wells were far from a pipeline, their production was sent to a storage tank.

As for Ira Yates, he eventually received a check for $18 million as his portion of the major oil strike, proving that the risk he took on his ranch really paid off. 

October 17, 1890 – Unocal Is Founded

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unocal_Corporation#/media/File:Union_Oil_cracking_plant,_Orange_County,_June_1961.jpg)


When oil drillers Wallace Hardison and Lyman Stewart, founded The Union Oil Company of California in 1890, they had no idea it would go on to be a leading force in the oil industry for over 100 years. 

Soon after establishing their company in Santa Paula, CA, the two drillers were joined by local politician, Thomas Bard. Shortly after that, in 1901, the company moved to Los Angeles. 

The original headquarters remained a field office for many years and has since been named a historical landmark. Today, the original Unocal office, is the location of the California Oil Museum. Unocal remained a giant  in oil exploration and exploitation until 2005, when it merged with Chevron.



October 17, 1917 – “Roaring Ranger” Oil Discovery

(Found here: http://www.microplexnews.com/roaring-ranger-wins-world-war-i/

The Roaring Ranger well gushes near Ranger, Texas.


Beginning in 1904, companies from all over the US made their way down to Eastland County, Texas in hopes of striking oil. However, it took nearly 13 years of exploration for one of these companies to eventually hit it big.

The year 1917 marked the first big oil discovery in Eastland County and it opened up the floodgates for the big Texas oil rush. The gushing J.H. McCleskey No. 1 well would lead to a boom in the area that would later be said to fuel the Allied victory in WWI.

William Knox Gordon’s wildcat drilling, which lead to this discovery, was financed by the Texas and Pacific Coal Company and his success would lead to production of over 1500 barrels a day of high-quality oil. Within two years, the Texas and Pacific Coil Company’s stock would jump over forty times its initial value, going from $30 to over $1200 a share.

The well quickly earned the nickname of the ‘Roaring Ranger,” for its location near Ranger, Texas, would go on to lead to a number of high production wells in the area. As roughneck drillers and the businesses that followed them flocked to the area, the area saw a tremendous economic boom.

It also saw a population boom, with Ranger’s population tripling in size. The influx of men and money would lead to a whole range of other success stories. Most notably, Conrad Hilton quickly came to the area to buy a bank. When the deal did not work out, Hilton would instead buy a motel in Cisco, Texas—starting the now infamous worldwide chain of Hilton Hotels.



October 17, 1973 – The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries Decides An Oil Embargo

(found here: http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2013/10/15/234771573/the-1973-arab-oil-embargo-the-old-rules-no-longer-apply)


In retaliation for supporting Israel in the ‘Yom Kippur War,’ the Organization of

Arab Oil Exporting Countries passed measures preventing the US and several other industrial nations from purchasing their oil.

That organization included most Arab OPEC countries, as well as Syria and Egypt—and they were following a policy they called ‘oil diplomacy.’

Most nations had been used to decades of inexpensive gasoline and the embargo lead

to severe economic declines, including a startling drop in the New York Stock

Exchange of nearly $100 billion.

At that time, the low level of reserves in the United States required that a substantial amount of oil be imported to meet demand. By 2005, the amount of oil imported into the United States reached an all-time high.

It wasn’t until recently that the United States was able to harness the power of new technologies to become the world’s largest producer of oil.



October 18, 2008 – Derrick dedicated in Discovery 1 Park

(found here: http://discovery1park.org/)

The replica derrick that is found on Discovery 1 Park, on the site of the first oil well in Oklahoma.


Nellie Johnstone No. 1 was Oklahoma’s first commercial oil well, and an important figurehead in the state’s rich oil history.

In 2008, the town erected a replica of that historic well at Discovery Park One, in honor of all that oil production had brought to the area. The celebration was capped by the well gushing, though this time it was pumping water rather than oil.

Today, visitors to the park can see reenactors of the roughneck drill workers operating the replica.



October 20, 1949 – An Unusual Find: A Natural Gas Well In New England

(Found here: https://www.earthworksaction.org/earthblog/detail/maryland_legislature_to_debate_gas_drilling/02546#.WcxZHkuGPrc)

There are a few natural gas wells in Maryland, but so far no one has found oil there.


Much to the surprise of all involved, in 1949 wildcat well drilled in Garrett County, Maryland started producing close to 500 Mcf of natural gas a day. 

Located in the westernmost country in Maryland, this marvel of gas production influenced others to come to Maryland and neighboring Pennsylvania to look for oil themselves.

Twenty nine wells are drilled within Mountain Lake Park, Maryland, and 20 of these still produce some gas, though the high density drilling depletes the field quickly. Natural gas is still produced in a few wells in New England, though no oil has been discovered yet.



October 21, 1921 – New Mexico Gets Its First Natural Gas Well

(Found here: http://www.leaderengineering.com/protein-powered-biocomputer-reservoir-simulators-and-new-mexicos-first-oil-well-1922/)

In 1921 natural gas was discovered near Aztec, New Mexico. Natural gas would be found elsewhere in southeastern New Mexico soon after.


On this date in 1921, the State No. 1 Well in Aztec, New Mexico made its official debut, ushering in a new era of natural gas production in the area. Leading to the founding of the San Juan Basin, production in this area continued to be a source for oil and natural gas well into the 21st century.

State No. 1 had a daily production of nearly 10 million cubic feet, and needless to say, drillers were not prepared for an output of this size. A makeshift wellhead of a tree trunk, pipe, and valve had to be used until a proper wellhead that could handle the production was shipped from Colorado.

Within three months, a pipeline was bringing natural gas to Aztec and sold to the town and its inhabitants–much to their delight! With the state’s only natural gas service, supplying a gas heater cost only $2 and families could supply their gas stoves for just $2.25 a month.



October 23, 1908 – Salt Creek Oilfields Become Center of Activity

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_Creek_Oil_Field)

The first of the Salt Creek Oil Field wells, Big Dutch drilled through about 1000 ft of shale and produced over 500 barrels of oil a day.


One of the first big oil strikes in Wyoming, which lead to the state’s first boom, was actually financed by a company based in the Netherlands called Petroleum Maatschappij Creek. Their first well, Big Dutch No. 1, was located about 40 miles from Caspar, Wyoming.

It was well-known that there was oil hiding deep below the surface in the area for almost 30 years. However, it had not been tapped until 1906 when Dr. Porro, an Italian Geologist, suggested it might be a good area to drill.

There was a fair amount of foreign investment in the area, as an English owned corporation called the Oil Wells Drilling Syndicate had already drilled a well that produced 600 barrels a day into the Salt Creek formation.

This is where the Dutch company came in. Since first setting up Big Dutch No. 1, thousands more wells have been drilled into the oilfield, some as shallow as a few dozen feet. This oil field has also been the subject of several different practices to increase production, including water flooding and CO2 injection; all designed to get even more out of this sprawling oil field.



October 23, 1948 – The First Smart Pig Is Used For Pipeline Inspection

(found here: https://www.watershedcouncil.org/pipeline-safety.html)

A ‘Smart Pig’,’ shown here, is a robot used to inspect pipelines.


The Smart Pig made her debut in 1948 and completely changed the way we handle pipeline inspections. There were safety concerns involved with how to properly inspect the inside of welds in smaller pipelines.

This is where the Smart Pig cam in. This x-ray device runs through the pipeline and actually 

used various forms of radiation to find flaws in welds.

Four years before this, Cormack Boucher had patented a machine which could be used with larger pipelines, but it was too large to use on some of the smaller pipelines that were common around the country.

Northern Natural Gas Company was able to use this smaller machine to inspect the interior of a 20-inch pipe. The smart pig travels nearly 2000 feet into the pipeline to x-ray each weld.



October 23, 1970 – Land Speed Record Powered By Natural Gas

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Flame)

While natural gas now powers over 100,000 different types of vehicles, it was an unusual fuel in 1970. The Blue Flame used it to power to a record that stood until 1997.


While gasoline is currently the standard for cars, when you’re trying to set a land speed record, you need a more efficient fuel. And in 1970, when the owners of the experimental Blue Flame needed some record-setting fuel power, they looked outside the box.

Using a combination of liquified natural gas, and hydrogen peroxide, the rocket car would go on to set a speed record that would stand for 27 years.

As an added bonus, natural gas and hydrogen peroxide burn very clean, making Blue Flame the greenest record breaking car in the 20th century.

The Blue Flame was 38 ft long and weighed almost 5,000 lbs, but the rocket motor that was developed for it could produce over 20,000 pounds of thrust, equivalent to 58,000 horsepower. The development of the car was sponsored by the American Gas Association and Institute of Gas Technology, and three Wisconsin men with the need for speed; Dick Keller, Ray Dausman, and Pete Farnsworth.

The three men had previously worked on another record setting project, the X-1 dragster, and were looking to up the ante and break records when they began the ambitious design concept for the Blue Flame.

October 13, 1917 – Founding of the USOGA

(found here: https://www.usoga.org/)

The modern USOGA works on behalf of the oil and gas industry, particularly in states along the Gulf of Mexico.


The US Oil and Gas Association (USOGA) isn’t just a big force in the oil and gas industry today—it is one that has been governing this sector for over 100 years. While it operates under this name today, when the USOGA was first founded in 1917 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it was known as the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.

The organization was created just six months after the United States’ entered into World War I, with the intention of providing fuel and other petroleum products to the US military. Its founders included Frank Phillips, Bill Skelly, and E.W. Marland, all of whom were independent producers at the time.

Two years later, the organization created a new division known as the Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association. Today the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association is the oldest energy trade organization in the United States.

Today, the USOGA has shifted their focus from providing fuel to the US military to advocating on behalf of the petroleum industry.



October 13, 1954 – The First Oil Well In Arizona Is Completed

(Found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_County,_Arizona#/media/File:Map_of_Arizona_highlighting_Apache_County.svg)

Apache County, Arizona produces all of the state’s oil.


Shell Oil finished the first oil well in Arizona in the 1950s, making it the 30th state to produce oil. The well, East Boundary Butte No. 2, was drilled just within Arizona’s northern border inside a Navajo County Indian Reservation in Apache County.

While this well initially only produced small amounts from Paradox Basin—it would eventually become more productive.

However, the real reason the establishment of this oil well was such a big deal, it because it had been a long time coming. While oil was reported in Arizona as early as the late 1890’s, attempts to drill wells proved unsuccessful for nearly 50 years.

The first attempts were made in 1903 by Joseph Heslet from Pennsylvania. He was never fully successful, even though his final attempt to drill a well in 1916 did produce small traces of oil.

The only wells that have yielded production in the state have all been located in Apache county. Close to 90 percent of the holes drilled in Arizona have been dry, and the state produces only small amount from less than 30 wells.



October 14, 1929 – Discovery of Oil In Van, Texas Leads to Boom

(found here: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txvzcgs/vzgsoil.htm)

The Van Area Oil & Historical Museum is located in a building originally built as a warehouse for Cook Camp.


On October 14th, 1929, the Pure Oil Company discovered oil in Van, Texas, a small community outside of Dallas. The discovery would ultimately lead to the infamous Texas oil boom that lasted well into the 1930s.

Tapping into the Woodbine formation, the Jarman No. 1 well was followed by three more wells, which led to the establishment of Cook Camp—the first camp of its type designed to help the influx of workers who came to the area specifically to work in the mines.

 By 1930, the wells would be producing tens of thousands of barrels per day. Two pipelines were built to bring oil from the wells to refineries. One pipeline lead to the Beaumont, Texas refinery, while the second pipeline, operated by Humble Oil joined the Standard Oil Pipeline that went to a refinery at Baton Rouge.

This was the first field in the Mid-Continent to be owned by two separate companies, but managed as a single unit to maximize production. Known today as unitization, this joint effort has become a common practice in many oil fields.

One of the buildings constructed for the camp, a sheet metal warehouse, is still in use today as the official home of the Van Area Oil and Historical Museum.

Van, Texas still hosts an annual festival to celebrate the discovery and boom that followed.



October 15, 1997 – A New Land Speed Record is Set Using Kerosene

(found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ThrustSSC)

The Thrust SSC was the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier.


On this date, in 1997, kerosene was harnessed to power the fastest car in the world and to set a new land-speed record. The car, Thrust SSC (Supersonic car), used a kerosene and naptha fuel to propel it across the Black Rock Desert track in Nevada.

The fuel is called JP-4 and was first used as a jet propellant in 1951.

The record setting speed was 764.035 mph—making it the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier. The impressive time trial was even recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.



October 16, 1865 – Construction of the First Pipeline

(Found: http://tataandhoward.com/2014/10/new-kind-pipeline/)

Pipelines took jobs from teamsters, so they were buried so they couldn’t be sabotaged.


Pipelines have revolutionized the way we transport oil today and the first of these lines made its debut on October 16th, 1865. The first pipeline only ran about five miles across Venango County, Pennsylvania, from the Fraser well to the Miller Farm Oil Creek Railroad Station.

The line was only two inches in diameter and made out of iron pipe. The pipeline was made using welded joints of pipe 15 ft long and was powered with 10 horsepower steam pumps.

This small but efficient pipeline could transport 80 barrels of oil in an hour—a job that previously took 300 men about 10 hours to accomplish.


(found: http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM3D32_First_Oil_Pipeline)

This marker in Venango, Pennsylvania is at the site of the first pipeline.


However, not everyone saw this improved efficiency as a good thing.

Another pipeline, from Pithole Creek to another well seven miles way, faced serious opposition and was sabotaged by teamsters worrying about their jobs. Armed guards would eventually have to protect the pipeline to prevent oil workers from damaging it.



October 16, 1931 – Natural Gas Pipeline Record

(Found here: http://www.steelriverpartners.com/ngpl/)

The modern pipeline follows a similar route to the one construction in 1931.


The first long-distance pipeline made its debut on October 16th, 1931. It connected the fields in the Texas panhandle to the city of Chicago. This was the first long distance pipeline, measuring in at over 980 miles and crossing three different states.

At the time, the project, cost over $75 million to complete, making it one of the most expensive feats of its time. This state-of-the-art project was made possible thanks to technology developed by A.O. Smith Corporation.

While the pipeline was crafted out of thin-walled pipe, it still used over 200,000 tons of steel.

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