October 14, 1929 – Oilfield Discovery in East Texas
This Van Zandt County museum east of Dallas is in a warehouse originally built in 1930 by the Pure Oil Company.
The discovery of oil in Van, Texas, by the Pure Oil Company creates an oil boom town 60 miles east of Dallas.
The Van oilfield produces from about 2,700 feet in a Woodbine sandstone.
By December, three more wells have been drilled and construction started on a camp for oil field workers.
By 1930, among “Cook Camp” buildings is the a sheet metal warehouse that today is the Van Area Oil and Historical Museum.
Pure Oil Company’s Jarman No. 1 discovery well initially produced 146 barrels per hour from the Woodbine. By April 1930, the oilfield is producing 20,000 barrels of oil a day, according to the Texas State Historical Association.
Two ten-inch pipelines connect the field to refineries, one to the Pure refinery at Beaumont and the second, operated by Humble, to the Standard Oil Company pipeline to its Baton Rouge refinery.
Operators in the Van field adopt advanced production techniques – and it becomes the nation’s first field to be completely unitized. Unitization improves production efficiency by consolidating a petroleum field into a single entity. Usually, one or several of the companies involved are designated as operator.
The Van Area Oil and Historical Museum opened in 1987 and exhibits many reminders of East Texas oil boom days. Located just north of I-20, on Hwy. 16 , Van hosts an annual “Oil Festival and Van Oil Queen Pageant” in October – and an “Oil Museum Lighting and Open House” every December.
October 16, 1865 – Pennsylvanian constructs First Oil Pipeline
Van Syckel’s oil pipeline will launch a revolution, according to journalist Ida Tarbell.
Pipelines – and the technology to lay them – will revolutionize petroleum transportation in the early oil patch.
In Venango County, Pennsylvania, Samuel Van Syckel’s Oil Transportation Association puts into service a two-inch iron line linking the Frazier well to the Miller Farm Oil Creek Railroad Station – about five miles away.
With 15-foot welded joints and three 10-horsepower Reed and Cogswell steam pumps, the pipeline transports 80 barrels of oil per hour – the equivalent of 300 teamster wagons working for ten hours.
Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Tubing Company is laying a seven-mile, six-inch pipeline from Pithole Creek to the Island Well. With their livelihoods threatened, teamsters sabotage the pipelines, until armed guards intervene.
“The day that the Van Syckel pipe-line began to run oil a revolution began in the business. After the Drake well it is the most important event in the history of the Oil Regions,” notes Ida Tarbell in her History of the Standard Oil Company.
October 16, 1931 – Natural Gas Pipeline sets Record
The 1931 natural gas pipeline extends 980 miles across three states.
America’s first long-distance, high-pressure natural gas pipeline goes into service, linking prolific Texas Panhandle gas fields to consumers in Chicago.
A. O. Smith Corporation has developed the technology of thin-walled longitudinal pipe and Continental Construction Corporation built the 980-mile bolted flange pipeline for the Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America.
The $75 million project consumes 209,000 tons of A. O. Smith’s specially fabricated 24-inch diameter steel pipe (6,500 freight car loads) and requires 2,600 separate right-of-way leases. Texoma Natural Gas provides the gas to Chicago’s Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company.
October 17, 1917 – “Roaring Ranger” Oil Discovery fuels WWI Victory
Eastland County, Texas, discoveries include oil wells near Cisco, where Conrad Hilton will witness the crowds of roughnecks – and buy his first hotel.
The J. H. McCleskey No. 1 well strikes oil at 3,432 feet, about a mile south of Ranger, Texas. Wildcatters had pursued oil with little success in Eastland County since 1904.
Texas and Pacific Coal Company’s William Knox Gordon and his driller Frank Champion bring in the well, which produces 1,600 barrels a day of high gravity oil. The discovery launches the Ranger oilfield boom. Within 20 months the company’s stock value goes from $30 a share to $1,250 a share.
The formerly quiet Eastland County farming communities fill with oilmen and entrepreneurs as oil sells for $2.60 a barrel – and many “Roaring Ranger” wells flow at 10,000 barrels a day.
Ranger’s population alone grows to more than 25,000 and its four banks hold $5 million in deposits.
Ranger oilfield production is essential to America’s victory in World War I, although the high production drops reservoir pressure and depletes the field. When the armistice is signed in November 1918, a member of the British War Cabinet declares, “the Allied cause floated to victory upon a wave of oil.”
Today, Ranger annually celebrates a “Roaring Ranger Day Festival” in September. To learn more about other nearby North Texas oil booms, read Pump Jack Capital of Texas.
October 17, 1918 – End of World War I “Gasless Sundays”
“Gasless Sundays” joined “Meatless Thursdays” and “Heatless Mondays” as a result of war shortages.
After seven voluntary “Gasless Sundays” observed east of the Mississippi River to support the World War I effort, the U.S. Fuel Administration ends the initiative, having saved an estimated one-million gallons of gasoline.
Because of depleted East Coast reserves, producers were forbidden to make deliveries of gasoline to any customer until all orders to the Army, Navy, and Allies are delivered. Other World War I conservation measures include Meatless Thursdays, Heatless Mondays, Lightless Nights, and Victory Gardens.
October 17, 1973 – OPEC declares Oil Embargo
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) implements what it calls “oil diplomacy” – prohibiting any nation that had supported Israel in its “Yom Kippur War” from buying any of the oil it sells.
“The ensuing energy crisis marked the end of the era of cheap gasoline and caused the share value of the New York Stock Exchange to drop by $97 billion. This, in turn, ushered in one of the worst recessions the United States had ever seen,” notes History.com.
Even prior to the OPEC embargo, an American oil crisis was on the horizon because of low domestic reserves, the site adds. The country was importing about 27 percent of the crude petroleum it needed every year.
Although dependence on foreign supplies peaked in 2005, in 2010 America imported about 49 percent of the petroleum it consumed.
Now, thanks to recent advances in production technologies, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates the United States will be the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2013, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia.
October 18, 2008 – Derrick dedicated in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Discovery 1 Park
Discovery 1 Park in Bartlesville includes a replica derrick on the original site of the first commercial oil well drilled in what is now Oklahoma.
Discovery 1 Park in Bartlesville – site of a renovated Nellie Johnstone No. 1, Oklahoma’s first commercial oil well – is dedicated.
A re-enactment of the dramatic moment that changed Oklahoma history highlights the dedication ceremony.
A 2008 gusher re-enactment highlights the dedication of a new replica derrick in Bartlesville.
Events include local roughneck reenactors bringing in the 84-foot derrick’s oil well with a water gusher. A similar cable-tool drilling rig thrilled spectators in on March 25, 1897, when Jenny Cass, stepdaughter of Bartlesville co-founder George W. Keeler, was given the honor of “shooting” the oil well.
The 1948 presentation of the well to the city of Bartlesville appropriately noted:
Like the rush for Oklahoma land, the discovery of oil attracted both men and capital from far and near, these pioneers in petroleum development were as rugged and self-sufficient as those who settled the land.
Oklahoma’s two greatest industries, agriculture and petroleum, have developed largely hand in hand, and back of both developments are the pioneers, men of restless energy and unbounded faith.
The park’s first replica derrick was erected on the original site in 1948, but removed in 1962, according to the Bartlesville Area History Museum.
A new replica was erected in 1964. Attending that dedication was W.W. Keeler, grandson of Nellie Johnstone Cannon, daughter of William Johnstone and namesake of the original well. Learn more in Discovering Oklahoma Oil.
October 20, 1861 – Pennsylvania Oil Boom
Drilling technologies evolved from from salt wells.
Just after midnight, William Phillips – a salt well driller from the Pittsburgh area – brings in his second well on the Tarr farm of Oil Creek, Pennsylvania. It produces an astounding 4,000 barrels per day from only 480 feet.
This early well taps into the Venango Third Sand’s highly pressurized oil, which flows into Oil Creek several days before being controlled. As new “oilmen” like Phillips develop production skills and technologies, pits are dug and wooden tanks assembled to accommodate the Tarr farm’s oil.
For a time, overproduction drives U.S. oil prices to 10 cents a barrel. The Phillips No. 2 well produces until 1871 and yields more than 950,000 barrels of oil, a record that stands for 27 years.
October 20, 1949 - Rare Well in Maryland
No oil has yet been found in Maryland.
The first commercially successful natural gas well in Maryland is drilled by the Cumberland Allegheny Gas Company in the town of Mountain Lake Park, Garrett County – the westernmost county in the state.
The Elmer N. Beachy well produces almost 500 Mcf of natural gas a day.
The wildcat discovery prompts a rush of competing companies and indiscriminate, high-density drilling (an average of nine wells per acre), which depletes the field. Twenty of 29 wells drilled within the town produce natural gas, but overall production from the field is minimal.
By 1962 the site becomes part of a storage area for the Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation. No oil has yet been found in Maryland.
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