August 1st, 1872 – First Current Pipeline Distributed

The biggest gas distribution by pipeline started in August of 1872 when gas was transported from a well in Pennsylvania to a location nearly five miles away. The well produced 4 million cubic feet of gas every day, establishing itself as the biggest well in the area.

Leaders of the Titusville and the Cornerstone Gas and Water Organization created their pipeline with a sing mission in mind: to bring one of the most powerful wells on record to over 250 clients in Titusville.

Author David Waples stated that at this time, before it was introduced by George Westinghouse, the use of commercial gas was considered to be dangerous.

 

 

August 2nd, 1938 – Goodbye Hog Bristles, Hello Nylon Toothbrushes

The Weco Company made advancements on its toothbrush in 1938 when they created the first toothbrush to have synthetic nylon called the Miracle-Tuft. Scientific experts at DuPont created it only 36 months earlier. Upon the reveal, New York Times stated that Americans in the future would brush their teeth with nylon instead of hog bristles.

An advertisement in Life magazine promoted the nylon bristles. Previously, all toothbrushes were made with animal hair bristles. The Miracle-Tuft contained DuPont’s interesting new fiber called EXTON.

Weco Items sold their toothbrushes for 50 cents a piece and assured buyers that there would be no shedding. Within the next year, the company Johnson and Johnson came out with a nylon toothbrush. Previously, the Royal Society of Chemistry observed that the world relied on toothbrushes made with hog bristles.

 

 

August 2nd, 1956 – First Interstate in the United States Begins Construction

Missouri was one of the first states to get construction funding for an interstate. Construction was authorized 8 weeks earlier by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. On August 2nd, 1956, work officially began on Route 66.

The Highway-Aid Act provided all federal funding for a system of interstate highways. That made it possible for states to afford the construction of limited access highways. These highways stretched across more than 40,000 miles. Leaders said the interstate was the best development of transportation in the history of the U.S.

 

 

August 3rd, 1769 – Spanish Explorers Discover First Asphalt Pits

In 1769, La Brea pits were discovered during a Spanish expedition by Franciscan Friar. In his diary detailed the expedition, the explorer wondered whether the tar was causing so many earthquakes.

Someone else on the expedition, Juan Crespi coined the expression “bitumen” to describe these sticky pools throughout southern California. Petroleum had been leaking in the waterfront plain dregs for over 40,000 years, eventually Americans would utilize the substance to waterproof bins and canoes.

Even though they were called tar pits, the pools at Rancho La Brea were black-top, not tar. Tar comes from the refining of woody materials while the black-top in the pits is a shaped substance made from hydrocarbon particles.

 

 

August 3rd, 1942 – War Brings Oil Pipelines to the United States

War Crisis Pipelines, Inc., started developing the longest oil pipeline in America in 1942, beginning the construction on what would eventually be called it the “Big Inch line.”

The purpose of this line was to supply fuel requests from the war. It also served as an answer to U-boat’s assaulted oil tankers. Big Inch and Little Big Inch were named the greatest government to industry collaboration.

The plan was to deliver 300,000 BOPD, an ambitious  goal that spearheaded the development of the two pipelines. The Big Inch was first and it traveled from East Texas all the way to Illinois. The Little Big Inch, which stretched from New York to Philadelphia came next. The effort went on to cost $95 million dollars total. Currently, the Trans-Alaska pipeline spans across over 800 miles.

 

March 13th, 1974 – End of OPEC Embargo

A five-month long oil embargo on the U.S. ended was officially ended on March 13th, 1974 by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) Arab members. The embargo was originally applied as a response to the United States providing resources for the Yom Kippur war effort to the Israeli military.

This created a shortage of gasoline and caused President Richard Nixon to come up with a solution. That solution came in the form of voluntary rationing of gas and a Sunday sales ban on gas; it was quickly approved by Congress. The OPEC discontinued the embargo when Israeli troops were withdrawn from some of Sinai, following a negotiation with Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.

 

 

March 14th, 1909 – California Rattled By Lake View Gusher

On the morning of March 14th, a California well called Lake View at Midway-Sunset erupted, causing disturbances and heavy vibrations throughout the region. San Joaquin Valley experienced many gushers during this time including the Shamrock Gusher (1986) and the Midway Gusher, (1909).

However, the Lake View Number One had the biggest impact. In addition to the physical vibrations from the gusher, the well spilled 18,000 barrels every 24 hours for about 18 months.

This gusher nearly became the most famous in American history, right behind the Spindletop Hill gusher of 1901. Lake View was eventually contained in October of 1910. Fortunately, a device designed to prevent blowouts and while capping wells was introduced in 1922, putting a halt to the gusher issues that plagued wells around the country.

 

 

March 15th, 1946 – Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association Established

In 1946, Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association was formed in an effort to protect the right to survey and manufacture oil and gas. It was created by a group of Independents wanting to protect their rights and maintain their own quality of life.

Until that time, when a number of oil fields were discovered, it often lead to an overproduction and disputes with large oil companies. These difficult disputes are what pushed these Independents to form their own trade association.

 

 

March 16th, 1914 – Completion of Main Street Oil Well

In 1914, a well that Ripley’s Believe It or Not would hail as the World’s Only Main Street Oil Well was officially completed. This well held oil from below the town of Barnsdall, Oklahoma, about 1,700 feet down.

This Oklahoma town, in Osage County, was first named  Bigheart for James Bigheart, former Osage Chief. It was later renamed for the owner of Barnsdall Refining company, Theodore Barnsdale. Today, this company still exists as a wax refinery. In 1916, Barnsdall went on to discover several additional oil fields in the area.

The well still exists today, and in 1997, it earned a place in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

 

March 17th, 1890 – Sunoco Expands to Ohio

Four years after the Peoples Natural Gas company was organized by Edward Emerson and Joseph Pew in an effort to supply gas to the city of Pittsburgh, the company made a move to Ohio in an expansion effort. It was later named The Sun Oil Company of Ohio.

This company obtained promise leases around Findlay near the turn of the century. They began to make a mark in the industry of producing carbon oil, rock oil and petroleum. The business also transported, stored, refined and purified this oil and their products.

Sun Oil also ppened and promoted Sunoco Motor Oil service locations in both Pennsylvania and Ohio in the 1920s. In 1929, they then got into the business of equipment. At this time, a partnership between Sunoco and Sperry Gyroscope, called Sperry-Sun was formed.

 

 

March 17th, 1923 –  Oklahoma Oilfields Discovered

A major Seminole area boom was created by a well known as the Betsy Foster Number 1. This was a gusher that spilled 2,800 barrels each day close to Wewoka in Seminole County, OK.

The following year, more wells were uncovered nearby including Cromwell and Behel, while Seminole and Earlsboro were eventually discovered in 1926. Following these discoveries, more wells were eventually found in the Oklahoma City area, establishing what would be a highly profitable industry for the city.

There were 39 oil fields in total developed in this region and surrounding counties at the time. However, this rapid expansion proved to be too much of a good thing, as overproduction caused prices to dip down to 17 cents per barrel.

 

 

March 17th, 1949 – Hydraulic Fracturing in Business

Stanolind and Halliburton company experts crossed paths around one oil well near Duncan, Oklahoma area when they performed commercial hydraulic fracturing for the first time.

A few years earlier, in 1947, an experimental well fractured a gas field near the town of Houghton, Kansas, introducing the promise for a future climb in productivity.

The strategy was created and patent protected by Stanolind (now called the Pan American Oil Company). A license was given exclusively to Halliburton Company to allow them to use this method.

This license was granted to all other recognized oilfield companies four years later. Since then, it has been said that hydraulic fracturing is one of the most effective of all techniques to boost recoverable reserves.

The first venture to boost petroleum production in a well started in the 1860s. Erle Halliburton created a technology in 1921 that increased productivity in the production of oil. It also protected the environment through well cementing.

 

 

March 18th, 1937 – Explosion Takes the New London School

Just before the end of the of an otherwise normal day,  New London High School was destroyed by a natural gas explosion. The school was located in Rusk County, TX.

An odorless gas, also known as casing gas, leaked into the basement of the schoolcausing an explosion that was felt for miles. Texas oil workers and reporters quickly made their way to school grounds. Despite rescue attempts, 298 people died that day, with many others passing away late from related injuries.

The source of the explosion was an electric sander in the wood shop that sparked the gas that collected below the building and in walls. After this tragedy, Texas and other areas around the country passed laws to prevent future disasters. They required gases and malodorant to be combined to provide quicker detection for gas leaks.

 

Every week is filled with petroleum facts. Some only pertain to the time it happened. Others have affected us for generations. Here are a few that took place in March between the 6th and 12th.

 

 

3/7/1902 — Sour Lake: From Resort to Boom Town

On March 6th, 1902, Sour Lake, Texas was a sleepy resort town with one hotel and a population of just 50 people. When oil was discovered one day later, it became the latest Texas boomtown and soon was flooded with as many as 10,000 employees and visitors.

At its peak, Sour Lake Oil Field produced 50,000 barrels of oil daily. As the wells dried up, so did the population. Eventually, the town settled into a citizenship that fluctuated between 2000 and 3000 citizens. Sour Lake and the area where the Sour Lake Springs Hotel stood were owned back in the early 20th century by the Texas Company. This organization eventually became known as Texaco.

 

 

3/11/1829 — Kentucky’s Earliest Commercial Oil Well

Most people think of Texas when it comes to the early history of oil discoveries. In reality, what was considered one of the first commercial oil setups began a few hundred miles east in Kentucky. This is in great thanks to a man by the name of Martin Beatty.

A salt maker by trade, Beatty dabbled a bit in oil. However, it wasn’t until the late 1820s that he discovered a large deposit of oil. Though only drilled down to 171 feet, the first Great American Oil Well produced a gusher which spilled oil into the Cumberland River as far down as 50 miles. The oil caught fire and burned for nearly three weeks.

Fortunately, the oil well ended up producing 50,000 barrels of crude into the start of the Civil War.

 

 

3/11/1930 — Exploring Geophysicists Get Their Own Society

While many people associated advancements in the oil field with wealthy business tycoons, it is really geophysicists that can be thanked for many of these advancements.

These scientists study the physical processes and physical properties of the Earth and its surrounding space environment. In other words, they make sure things are going to be okay before a well is drilled.

In 1930, a number of these scientists got together and created the Society of Economic Geophysicists. After playing around with a few name changes, the organization eventually became the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). Since its inception, the Tulsa-based group has grown to over 33,000 members, has produced the publication GEOPHYSICS for decades, and has become one of the innovators to study the Earth across the globe.

 

 

3/12/1912 — Dry Hole Slick strikes a Oklahoma Gusher

Today, Cushing, Oklahoma is known as the crossroads of the pipeline world with its delivery capacity of 90 million barrels of oil across the country. Yet, that might not have been the case if Thomas Baker Smith hadn’t come to the area.

In 1912, the man known as “Dry Hole Slick” struck a gusher east of Cushing, and made his well one of the most successful between Oklahoma and Tulsa. For two decades afterward, Slick struck successful well after successful well, to the point that he was honored with the title “King of the Wildcatters.” Slick has been honored as one of the state’s petroleum leaders with a display at the state’s Museum of Natural History.

 

 

3/12/1914 — USS Texas, the Last Coal-Powered Boiler Battleship

When the U.S. Navy  left the Age of Sail in the early 1880s for a modern, steel-hulled force, it relied on coal-powered engines to propel it across the waters. While they were able to succeed in battles like those in Manilla and Cuba during the Spanish-American War, the process of shoveling 2,000 tons of coal into the engines, the dark smoke and ash didn’t help. So, once the 20th century began, Naval officials decided to make the move toward a fuel-based fleet.

The last of the coal-powered battleships to be commissioned was the USS. Texas. The second naval ship to bear the name of the state, this armor-plated battleship had an impressive record. She was the first U.S. battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns and one of the honored U.S. craft to serve with the British Grand Fleet. The USS Texas served during both WWI and WWII on numerous convoy missions. Today, she stands as a powerful memorial docked at Houston’s ship channel.

 

 

3/12/1943 — Oil Drillers Head to Sherwood Forest

Robin Hood and his Merry Men? Well, the Oklahoma roughnecks who arrived in England weren’t stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Actually, they were making sure a nation wrecked by Germany had the fuel they needed in World War II.

It was an incredible secret. With tankers constantly at risk in the Atlantic and British oil wells producing a mere 300 barrels a day, something needed to be done. So, British officials covertly made their way to Washington to seek help. The result was a team of drillers, derrickmen, and other petroleum employees who were quietly sent to England aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The team used their proactive skills to drill approximately one well each week in the forest. Today, a statue named “Oil Patch Warrior” stands in in the city of Nottingham to commemorate the brave Americans who helped keep England going.

 

 

3/12/1968 — Oil is Discovered in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay

Prudhoe Bay, in Northern Alaska, is cold with long winters. Yet, it can be one of the most populous towns in the state several months a year thanks to the discovery of the largest oil field in not only the United States but in North America.

The field itself is over 215,000 acres and originally contained the equivalent of 25 million barrels of oil. The field was originally pinpointed by Tom Marshall, a  petroleum geologist who lived in the new state of Alaska was given the task of finding the right piece of land for investment. Prudhoe Bay caught his eye — it reminded him of the large oil basins of Wyoming — and the rest was history. For his work, Marshall received only a citation from the state government.

 

 

Every week is filled with petroleum facts. Some only pertain to the time it happened. Others have affected us for generations. Here are a few which took place between February 27th to March 5th.

 

 

February 28th, 1935 — Nylon is Invented

On February 24th, 1938, the first toothbrush made with Nylon bristles was sold. This wouldn’t have happened if not for the creation of the synthetic polymer approximately three years before. This is all thanks to Wallace Hume Carothers. Originally an accountant, Wallace decided to embark on a career in chemistry. In 1924, while working on his study of polymers, DuPont Laboratories hired him to create a man-made fiber.

After many attempts, Carothers became frustrated. It wasn’t until a colleague recommended using amines, rather than glycols, to produce polyamides that his experiments turned the corner. A year later, Nylon began to be sold commercially. At the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, there was even a large Nylon-stocking foot display to honor the creation, and the massive statue drew a great deal of attention.

A few years later, the fiber was a major equipment component utilized during World War II.

 

 

 

March 1, 1921 — New Cementing Technology from Halliburton

Though many in the 21st century know the name Halliburton from scandals during the George W. Bush presidency, its roots go back nearly a century. In fact, it was the technological leader in extracting oil from under the Earth’s surface in the early 1900s; cementing its oil field wells as early as 1919.

In 1921, the process, invented by Erle P. Halliburton, was officially patented. Before the company bore his name, Haliburton titled it the New Method Oil Well Cementing Company.

This cementing technique helped to decrease the amount of abandoned wells from excess water by isolating the various down-hole zones. This protected the interior of the well from collapse and the exterior from oil leaks.

 

 

 

 

 

March 2, 1922 — A One Million Dollar Oil Lease for the Osage Nation

160 acres. This is how much oil-rich land the Osage Nation decided to auction off to the highest bidder in the late winter of 1922. And their efforts more than paid off. Utilizing the auctioneering powers of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth Walters, The Oklahoma-based tribe was able to collect $1 million dollars for the parcel.

The auction took place in what is now called the Million Dollar Elm. Colonel Walters, who became the official auctioneer for the Osage Nation in 1916, spent several hours underneath the elm in order to win the $1 million bid jointly paid by Skelly Oil and Phillips Petroleum Company. When all the papers were signed, the sale of this land became the first million dollar mineral lease in history. Impressed with Colonel Walter’s ability to maximize their profits, the Osage Nation presented him with a medal to thank him for his contributions.

 

 

 

 

March 2, 1944 — War Emergency Pipeline Sends Petroleum to the East Coast

World War II was a time of loss and sacrifice but also a time of invention out of sheer need. This included a need to be able to deliver needed fuel to the East Coast, something they had been sort of since German U-boats began attacking tankers at the start 1942.

Enter “Little Big Inch.” Requested by Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, as early as 1940, this 12-inch pipeline delivered refined fuel from the Eastern Texas coastal cities of Houston and Beaumont to Linden Station, New Jersey only a few months before D-Day. The pipeline’s big brother, “Big Inch” delivered crude oil through a 20-inch pipeline. Between the opening of these two pipelines and the end of the war, 350 million barrels of crude oil and refined product were delivered to the East Coast.

 

 

 

 

March 3, 1879– Creation of the U.S. Geological Survey

Currently, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), an agency within the Department of the Interior, has over 10,000 employees and a budget of $1 billion. Back when then-President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law to survey the territories of the United States.

At the time, the USGS was designated to classify public lands, examine geological structures, review mineral resources and determine the products of the national domain of those Western territories. Many of the agency’s discoveries resulted in the discovery of oil and other valuable minerals. Today, the USGS provides a wealth of scientific data on more than just the geology of America. Its current role is to review and try to come up with solutions to natural hazards which threaten lives and natural resources we rely on for our environment.

 

 

Lighting up Kansas with Natural Gas — March 3, 1886

Remember the name Paola. This small Kansas city and current seat of Miami County became something much more important in March of 1886. It turned out to be the very first town in Kansas to be lit up at night by natural gas.

This historic moment was thanks to a natural gas discovery in 1882 when the Kansas Oil and Mining Company was discovered through borings on land seven miles east of town. According to Miami County historical records, the deposit could light a city of one million people. Once the first lamps where light in 1886, the city council asked to purchase 50 more at $8.75 per unit. A year later, the city held a Natural Gas Jubilee to celebrate the continued flow of the natural power supply.

 

 

 

March 4, 1918 — West Virginia Well Named World’s Deepest

If you look at the current records of the West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey, you’ll see a number of wells of numerous depths. The deepest reached over 20,000 feet. In 1918, an oil well on the Martha Goff Farm in Harrison, West Virginia, was deemed the deepest in the world.

According to the book A Century of Service, which details the history of West Virginia’s oil and gas industry, the well was 7,386 feet deep, which beat one previously dug in Germany. The Martha Goff Well would hold its title until 1919 when a well in Marion County beat the standing record.

 

 

 

 

March 4, 1933 — Oklahoma Governor Declares Martial Law on Oil Field

Back in 1928, the Oklahoma City Oil Field produced most of the state’s crude oil. Because it was discovered within city limits, it posed numerous issues when it came to the amount of production and location of wells. Between 1929 and 1930, Oklahoma City Council halted drilling several times and restricted it to only certain locations in the city. This resulted in numerous violations, and frankly, a great deal of chaos.

Enter Governor William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray. On March 4, 1933, Governor Murray declared martial law on the oil field for a period of ten days. This allowed the situation to calm down and gave the state government time to put together set of regulations to allow for drilling without overusing the area.

 

Every week is filled with petroleum facts. Some only pertain to the time it happened. Others have affected us for generations. Here are a few that took place between February 20th to the 26th.

 

February 20, 1959 — The First Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Tanker Docks in England

The Methane Pioneer may not seem like a perfect name for an experimental tanker, but for the Comstock Liquid Methane Corporation, there was no better moniker. After a three-week journey from Port Charles, Louisiana, the Pioneer arrived at Canvey Island, England. It became the first LNG tank and was a milestone for international cargo delivery.

The Methane Pioneer wasn’t designed from the bulkhead up. Instead, it was a refurbished cargo freighter from World War II with a storage capacity of 2,000 tons. The project was a joint effort by Comstock and The British Gas Council to determine if natural gas could be exported across many thousands of miles.

The Methane Pioneer remained in service until it was scrapped in 1972.

 

 

February 21, 1887 — A New Refinement Process for Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller wouldn’t be known for his philanthropic achievements today if not for the enormous wealth he accumulated in the 1880s with Standard Oil Company. He also wouldn’t have owned almost 90% of the nation’s oil refineries if he didn’t look for improvements in the filtering process.

If he didn’t, his fortunes may have stopped with the 40 million barrel stockpile of sludgy and smelly oil he pulled from fields near Lima, Ohio. This Skunk-Bearing Oil was of little use due to its sulphurous aroma. That is, until Herman Frasch came along. A former Standard Oil employee, Frasch patented a process to mitigate the sulphur presence in the oil to sweeten it, thus increasing its value. The process allowed Frasch to return to Standard Oil and made both he and Rockefeller quite wealthy.

 

 

 

February 22, 1923 — Carbon Black Goes Into Production at the First Factory in Texas

Once upon a time, automobile tires were pure white — the natural color of the rubber. Of course, they darkened over time due to contact with soot and dust, which could be frustrating for auto-owners looking to maintain the look of their vehicle.

Enter Carbon Black. In the early 1910s, B.F. Goodrich Company founded the process to increase the durability of its rubber tires. Addition of the product to the rubber-vulcanizing process increased a tire’s strength and gave it the black color we know today.

In 1923, Carbon Black production joined oil refining boom in Texas when J.W. Hassell & Associates was granted approval by the state’s Railroad Commission to build a plant in Stephens County. The success of the plant  joined that of oil refinement to increase the state’s tax revenue.

 

 

February 23, 1906 — Caney Gas Well Fire Makes National Headlines

When a gas fire burns for nearly a month, the national press and its numerous readers are going to take notice. This occurred in 1906 when a New York Oil and Gas Company well approximately four miles from Caney, Kansas, burst into flame after a lightning strike.

The bright, high flames could be seen up to 40 miles away. They provided enough illumination to allow residents of surrounding towns to read by its light. Postcards of the fire were created and sent out with people describing how the ground shook due to the constant explosions.

In all, nearly 70 million cubic feet of gas was dispersed was released into the air daily by the fire until it was extinguished on March 29th. Kansas and the rest of the nation, had time to breathe again … until the Great San Francisco Earthquake three weeks later.

 

 

February 24, 1942 — Bankline Oil Refinery Shelled by Japanese Submarine

As the United States entered World War II, fears of the nation getting attacked rolled through the minds of its citizens. Many felt New York or Washington D.C. would be the main targets of the Axis. However, it was California’s vulnerability that was first taken advantage of.

Around 7 P.M. Pacific Time, around one of President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats, the Japanese sub 1-17 surfaced off the California coast near the town of Goleta and targeted the facilities of the Bankline Oil Refinery. The 1-17 shelled the refinery and the surrounding shoreline for approximately 20 minutes. Of the shots fired, only two landed at the refinery to damage an oil derrick pier and pump house. In total, the estimated cost of damage was $500.

While the damage was minor, blackout conditions and the fear it incited in the population of Southern California continued to remain throughout the war.

 

 

February 24, 1938 — The First Nylon Toothbrush Goes on Sale

Did you know people used to brush their teeth using bristles made of pig hair? This was commonplace, until the Weco Products Company of Chicago started manufacturing toothbrushes made of nylon bristles.

At the end of the 1930s, Weco released Dr. West’s Miracle-Tuft Toothbrush which was made with nylon bristles. However, “Dr. West” wasn’t the real inventor. That was Wallace Carothers. A Harvard professor working for DuPont Labs, Carothers spent 10 years working with different materials until he came up with the bristles which were trademarked as EXTON.

Weco captured the market in the late 1930s, by selling the new toothbrush for just 50 cents. However, their monopoly on the market didn’t last long. Just 12 months later, Johnson & Johnson released a competing product.

 

 

February 25, 1897 — “Golden Rule” Jones Becomes Mayor of Toledo, Ohio

Samuel “Golden Rule” Jones was a noteworthy individual during the heydays of the Western Pennsylvania and Ohio Oil Rush of the late 1800s. Searching for and finding an oil field on the outskirts of Lima, Ohio, Jones created the Ohio Oil Company, which eventually purchased by Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. He then moved to Toledo started the S.M. Jones Company which sold oil manufacturing tools.

 In both companies, “Golden Rule” Jones paid his employees high wages and offered benefits. He also asked them to employ the “Golden Rule” of working hard and being honest. It was during his time in Toledo that the Republican Party asked him to run for Mayor under a “Golden Rule” platform. He won and took his honesty into politics by offering government workers the same rates he gave to his factory employees, establishing free kindergartens and designing lodgings for the homeless. Frustrated by “Golden Rule” Jones’ progressive traits, the Republican Party shunned him during the 1899 election. Nevertheless, he still won the next three elections as an Independent.

 

 

February 25, 1918 — The Creation of the Pawnee Bill Oil Company, Inc.

Pawnee Bill is not a government law. Instead, it’s the show name of Gordon William Lillie, a member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Gordon received the nickname when he became the show’s Pawnee translator.

During and after his time at the show, Pawnee Bill invested in numerous industries, including oil. As World War I came to a close, he incorporated the Pawnee Bill Oil Company in Oklahoma to, according to a 1919 Petroleum Age, help the allies and Uncle Sam save the world. However, with the war over, there wasn’t much need for so much oil anymore. Still, the oil company was able to provide a dividend to its investors in 1921.

Though he seemed to have shut down the oil company at some point, Pawnee BIll kept active by opening Pawnee Bill’s Old Town in 1930 and allowing his ranch to be used as a film location.

 

 

February 25, 1919 — The First Gasoline Tax is Established

Oregon is only one of two states which doesn’t permit drivers to pump their own gas. With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this Pacific Northwest was the first to enact a gasoline tax. The simple reason:  improved roads.

The measure for a gas tax was introduced by state legislator Loyal Graham in connection to a campaign by Oregon’s Highway Commission to help build a better road system. The hope was the system would prevent so many cars getting stuck in the mud. The bill was approved in 1919 and, from that moment on, a one cent tax was applied per each gallon of fuel. The total in the late 1910s, including the price per gallon was 26 cents.

 

 

February 25, 1926 — Wyatt Earp: Gunfighter, Lawman, Oil Investor

Many know that Wyatt Earp was a prominent player at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. However, he had other ventures and attitudes. Earp was an avid gambler and opened a gambling house in Seattle right around the start of the 20th century.

In the mid-1920s, as he reached the ripe old age of 75, Earp decided to invest in California oil fields. He asked his common law wife, Josephine, to submit the papers and claim fees. However, she gambled away the fees for the claim, which eventually became valuable. Earp eventually put the claims under his sister’s name instead.

 

 

February 13, 1924 – Bradford, PA. A Mysterious Past for a Fiery Dog

In February of 1924, four independent petroleum companies and an exploration firm performed a consolidation merger, they emerged under the new moniker Forest Oil Corporation. The company, which would go on to become the globally-recognized Sabine Oil became an early leader in the field of technology known as Secondary Recovery.

Secondary Recovery works on regulating pressure levels of existing wells by using external energy forces such as water or cO2.

With a new company came the need for a new emblem, and Forest Oil Corporation opted to include a Yellow Dog Lantern in the logo. The ‘Yellow Dog’ is an iconic symbol in the oil and petroleum world. First patented in 1860, the two-wicked lamp’s etymology remains murky. Some say it gets its name from the two flames looking like the eyes of a dog, others saying that the flames together would cast a shadow of a dog on the ground below.

The company was originally based in Bradford, Pennsylvania, which was fast becoming one of the first billion-dollar oil fields in the United States. It was at the vanguard of important and innovative ventures; such as water injection. This technology has proven itself to be one of the most economic and efficient methods of secondary extraction, by assisting in maintaining the pressure in the well, increasing production of hydrocarbon reserves and reducing environmental impact.

The yellow dog lantern was developed specifically with oil regions in mind, where dropping and breaking a regular lamp could spell serious danger for all nearby.

 

 

February 16, 1935 – The Interstate Oil Compact Commission Forms

On February 16, 1935, brought about the official birth of the Interstate Oil Compact Commission (IOCC). The organization, which was based in Oklahoma City, had received congressional approval the summer before and was looking to revolutionize the oil and gas industry in America.

The organization got to work fast. They drafted up the ‘Interstate Company to Preserve Oil and Gas’ to propose that all states who signed the agreement would work towards minimal physical waste of oil and gas, decommission any unsafe or inefficient wells, and work against undue flooding and unsafe drilling of wells. The Law of Capture culture of the time, as well as the Great Depression ravaging the United States, meant that there was a lot of waste and unfeasibly low prices, and thus a need for some cooperation and self-regulation.

Representatives from Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico conferred in this unique multi-state body to start implementing the provisions set forth in the agreement. It was first chaired by the Governor of Oklahoma Ernest W. Marland, founder of Marland Oil Company. Marland, perhaps surprisingly for an Oklahoman big oil man, ran as a Democrat, and created more than 90,000 new jobs in downtrodden Oklahoma with his FDR inspired Little New Deal during his time as governor.

It is now known as the IOGCC, with the word ‘gas’ being added to the title in 1993, and claims to have helped establish effective regulation within the oil and natural gas industry. Through a variety of programs the IOGCC has been able to disseminate information, technologies and regulatory guidelines in an effort to honor their founding father, the late Ernest W. Marland.

According to the commission, their goals for the future are simple, to ensure the future of the nation’s energy is a successful one.

Ernest W. Marland lost his fortune in oil twice over but continually worked to make the industry safer to work in.

 

 

February 17, 1902 — Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company Makes its Debut

When the pine industry began to dwindle in Lufkin Texas, a sawmill machinery repair shop called the Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company saw opportunity in the fledgling industry of petroleum drilling. This had much to do with the historic turn of the Century ‘gusher’ 100 miles or so away in Beaumont, Texas.

In 1925, when inventor Walter Trout was working for the company, he designed a new means of pumping oil that is still used to this day. His idea would have a working prototype by the end of the year, and soon after his counterbalanced pumping unit was on the market. Installed first on a Humble Oil and Refining Company well in Hull, Texas, trout confessed that even though the pump was perfectly balanced and fit for purpose, that the aesthetics brought with it much ridicule and criticism.

The familiar sight of the nodding pump is often seen even today and Lufkin Industries manufactured and sold more than 200,000 of Trout’s ‘thirsty bird’ before being bought out by General Electric in 2013 for $3.3 billion. The original and historic foundry in downtown Lufkin was closed in 2015.

Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company newspaper advertisement

 

 

February 17, 1944 –Alabama Makes a Major Splash in the Oil Industry

The state of Alabama took its place on the national oil map when H.L. Hunt, a Texan who had found previous success in Arkansas, drilled the No.1 Jackson Well in Choctaw County. In 1944, Hunt drilled a wildcat well— revealing the Gilbertown Oilfield. His efforts proved there is merit in the old saying “patience is a virtue” as 350 previous attempts to drill in the state of Alabama had returned dry.

Gilbertown was discovered at a depth of 3,700 feet in the Eutaw Sand and it produced 15 million barrels of oil. Unfortunately for Hunt, the search for another oilfield was all for nought as he spent another 11 years turning up nothing by dry holes. It would not be until the 1960s that more oilfields were discovered in the state of Alabama, and according to the Independent Petroleum Association of America, between 1944 and 2014, more than 16,500 wells have been drilled there.

The discovery was in part due to the work of historian and geologist Ray Sorensen, who discovered a report on the Drake well by Michael Tourney which documented reports of a discovery of an oil seep near Oakville in Lawrence County. Tourney noted “tar, or bitumen, floats on the surface, a black film very cohesive and insoluble in water,” this was a rare, but accurate sign that there was oil nearby.

H.L. Hunt incorporated oil field first found oil in Oklahoma in 1944.

 

 

February 19, 1863 –Early Attempts at Pipeline Reveal Challenges for Oil Industry

Inventor and entrepreneur J.L. Hutching of New Jersey makes an early attempt at transporting oil from the field to a refinery via pipeline. Using a pipeline that stretched two and a half miles from Oil Creek to the Humboldt Refinery, and measured two inches in diameter. However, the newly patented pump was not fit for purpose. Structural weaknesses and flaws in the technology rendered it useless due to leaks, resulting in oil waste. It would not be until 16 years later, in 1879, that the first crude oil truck line was built in the Tidewater region of Virginia.

 

 

February 19, 1889 – Ohio Launches New Conservation Act Prevents Wasted Gas

A Conservation Act “to prevent the waste of natural gas and to provide the plugging of all abandoned wells” was enacted by the Ohio House of Representatives in 1899, making the Buckeye state one of the original states to legislate conservationist measures for the oil industry.

Known as the ‘Trenton Field’, located in Eaton and Portland, it was at the home and epicentre of the Indiana gas boom. It stretched over 5,120 square miles and into 17 Indiana counties. Parts of it even reached into Ohio, and within three years of the discovery, 200 enterprises were established drilling, distributing and selling gas from the Trenton field.

Ohio is now one of the leading producers of gas and oil in the nation. It has drilled 275,000 wells to date, surpassed only by production giants in Texas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

Flambeaux exhibition in Indiana at the height of its gas boom.

 

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.

Vintage postcard of the Rice Hotel in downtown Houston Texas

 

 

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.

 

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.

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