August 12, 2014
News events from the American Oil & Gas Historical Society, including energy education conferences, field trips, community museums, and annual oil patch festivals.
Marcellus Shale sets Record, boosts Pioneer Oil Museum of New York
Natural gas production in the Marcellus region exceeded 15 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) through July – the first time ever recorded, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The Marcellus Region, mostly found in New York, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, is the largest producing shale natural gas basin in the United States.
Marcellus region production has increased dramatically over the past four years, reports EIA. It now accounts for almost 40 percent of all U.S. shale gas production.
According to the Pioneer Oil Museum of New York, public interest in petroleum history has grown as a result of this geological formation first revealed near the village of Marcellus, near Syracuse.
The Bolivar-based museum in the western part of the state is in the midst of a five-phase renovation that includes adding oil field artifacts from throughout Allegany and Cattaraugus counties. In 1865, the Job Moses No. 1 well, about 30 miles west of Bolivar in Limestone, became the state’s first successful oil well. It produced seven barrels a day.
Most historians agree that the earliest U.S. commercial use of natural gas in a community took place about 50 miles farther west, in Fredonia, in 1825. Natural gas was piped to several stores, shops and a mill from a downtown natural gas well drilled by William Hart, today considered as the father of the natural gas industry.
Drake Well Administrator is a Keeper of the Flame
Petroleum historians have recognized the work of Melissa Mann of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Mann, site administrator of the Drake Well Museum in Titusville, Pennsylvania, is a 2014 recipient of the Samuel T. Pees Keeper of the Flame Award.
Mann received the award during the June 19-21, 2014, Oil History Symposium of the Petroleum History Institute (PHI) in Bradford, Pennsylvania. PHI presented seven awards to PHI members and other petroleum industry leaders at its annual awards banquet held at the Pennhills Club, according to Marilyn Black, vice president of Heritage Development for the Oil Region Alliance, who nominated Mann.
A second Keeper of the Flame Award was presented to Harvey L. Golubock, president of American Refining Group, which owns and operates the refinery in Bradford.
Former PHI president Daniel J. Leech received the 2014 Distinguished Service Award. Leech a founding member of the PHI in 2003, served as president from 2005 to 2013. Long-time PHI member Larry D. Woodfork of Morgantown, West Virginia, also received the award.
Black noted in the Oil Region Alliance’s July newsletter, “The News Gusher,” other PHI award recipients included the Gerald M. Friedman Award for Excellence in Oil History Presentation/Publication presented to Mary Barrett of Shreveport, Louisiana; and the Colonel Edwin L. Drake Legendary Oilman Award presented to both Paul R. Plants of Shinglehouse and Willard M. “Bill” Cline of Bradford.
North Dakota produces One Million Barrels of Oil a Day
On June 17, 2014, North Dakota oil production surpassed one million barrels per day thanks to development of the Bakken shale in the western part of the state.
State officials reported that North Dakota produced 1,001,149 barrels of oil a day in April from a record 10,658 wells. Some industry journalists, proclaiming the milestone a sign that the United States is freeing itself from the grip of foreign oil, referred to the state as “Saudi Dakota.”
Early in the morning on April 4, 1951, after four months of drilling and with snow piled high from blizzards, the Clarence Iverson No. 1 well produced oil. Read more in First North Dakota Oil Well.
2014 Earth Science Week includes Contests
The American Geological Institute is sponsoring three national contests for Earth Science Week 2014. The photography, visual arts, and essay contests, all focused on the event theme of “Earth’s Connected Systems,” allow students to participate learn about the earth sciences – and compete for prizes.
The photography contest, open to all ages, focuses on “Connections in My Community.” The the visual arts contest, open to students in grades K-5, is titled “Earth’s Connected Systems and Me.”
Students in grades six to nine are eligible to enter the essay contest: “Earth System Science in Today’s World.” Essays of up to 300 words should describe how the study of earth’s connected systems is helping to improve the world today.
Entries may be submitted any time up to the Friday of Earth Science Week, October 17, 2014. The first-place prize for each contest is $300 and a copy of AGI’s “The Geoscience Handbook.” To learn more, including how to enter, visit Earth Science Week.
Petroleum History Institute to Meet in Bradford, Pennsylvania
The Petroleum History Institute (PHI), based in Oil City, Pennsylvania, plans to host its 2014 Oil History Symposium in Bradford, June 19 to 21. PHI has issued a call for abstracts for the PHI annual professional journal, Oil-Industry History. Planned field trips include visits to the American Refinery – the oldest operating refinery in America, the Penn-Brad Museum (which includes a 72-foot cable-tool drilling rig replica), and a tour of the Pioneer Oil Museum in Bolivar, New York.
Visit your Local Oil and Gas Museum this Summer
More than 100 community museums and petroleum-related exhibits are linked to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society’s website.
Almost all the museums host summer events and K-12 education programs – featured alongside stories of America’s exploration and production heritage.
As a recent historical society article notes, summer brings millions of Americans trekking across the U.S. oil patch while on vacation. Among the more unusual stops, perhaps less well known, are museums with exhibits chronicling the nation’s oil and natural gas discoveries.
There are several historic attractions in state where it all started, Pennsylvania. Read more in Pennsylvania Petroleum Vacation.
Historical Society partners with Oklahoma’s Exploring Energy Network
A weekday morning radio show – available online – now features the American Oil & Gas Historical Society’s “This Week in Petroleum History” every Wednesday.
AOGHS Executive Director Bruce Wells occasionally will jois the discussion on “Remember When Wednesday” on the Oklahoma radio program Exploring Energy. He also will contribute articles to the show’s monthly news publication, which is distributed to more than 20,000 readers. Read more in Radio Show features Oil History.
Ohio Celebrates 200th Anniversary of “First Oil Well in North America”
Long before Edwin Drake drilled his well in Pennsylvania seeking oil that would be refined and used for Kerosene, two entrepeneurs in Noble County, Ohio, recognized the potential of petroleum – as a medicine.
In 1814, frontier settlers Silas Thorla and Robert McKee used a spring pole to drill a well near a place where deer came to lick salt, according to the Ohio Exploration Society. They sought valuable brine, because salt was an important commodity for settlers. It was used to preserve meat, flavor food and raise livestock.
The Thorla and McKee well, cased with a hollow sycamore log, produced brine, notes the Ohio Exploration Society. Oil and some natural gas also flowed from the well, which today is preserved north of Marietta at state routes 78 and 546 near Caldwell.
“Thorla and McKee used wool blankets to absorb the oil from the top of the salt water,” the Society adds. “The water was then boiled down until all that remained was salt.”
Although McKee suggested burning the oil in homes, the thick smoke made it impractical. Instead, after neighbors tasted the oil, they suggested it be sold as medicine.
“So Thorla and McKee wrung the oil from the blankets into bottle and sold it as a cure-all called Seneca Oil,” the Society explains. “Their operation came to an end in 1831 when fire destroyed the works built on the site.”
Not until after Drake’s well in 1859, when refining for kerosene was perfected, did oil bring light and heat to America’s growing frontier.
Established in 1998, the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program educates the public about the state’s energy industry – past and present.
Roughnecks of Sherwood Forest
“A ‘roughneck’ is a slang term for a person completing dangerous, hard-manual labor in the working environment of an oil rig,” notes Laura Bell, statistics editor for the Oil & Gas Journal on December 16, 2013.
“While doing research on the Worldwide Report, which reports oil production by field, this editor ran across an article from the American Oil & Gas Historical Society of how roughnecks helped save the future of Great Britain during World War II,” she adds before summarizing the AOGHS article Roughnecks of Sherwood Forest.
Historical Society Calendar records Petroleum History
The number of American Oil & Gas Historical Society supporters continues to grow, as more people recognize its mission to preserve petroleum heritage. Donations alone sustain a decade-long energy education effort - and this website.
A new project for 2015 and beyond is available on a limited basis. A wall calendar – Today in Petroleum History – includes dates with descriptions of petroleum history milestones, technologies, inventions, oilfield discoveries, pioneers, etc.
You are invited to order copies today. Example milestones from the history calendar include:
January 10 - The modern petroleum industry begins in 1901 when Anthony Lucas strikes oil on Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas.
February 17 - Alabama’s first oilfield is discovered in 1944 in Choctaw County when H.L. Hunt drills the No. 1 Jackson well, revealing the Gilbertown oilfield.
August 10 - Rotary drilling is revolutionized in 1909 when Howard Hughes Sr. patents a twin-cone roller bit consisting of interlocking cones.
This unique energy-education calendar, if printed in sufficient quantities, offers the beginning of an annual project useful for energy education programs, association members, teachers, students and employees.
Call or email me to learn more about its format, sponsorship opportunities and pricing. As you consider the calendar, please send a donation to AOGHS today. Your annual financial support is much-needed to keep up the website’s unique content, links and outreach. - firstname.lastname@example.org
A Holiday Candy Petroleum Product
“Wax fangs” and “wax lips” are a little-known petroleum products.
When 4th-graders surrender wax fangs to their teacher in the 1983 classic A Christmas Story, grownups are reminded of what “a penny used to buy at their local Woolworth’s store,” notes a popular article from the American Oil & Gas Historical Society.
But there is far more to these paraffin playthings than a penny’s worth of fun. Here is at least one petroleum article popular with historians at McKeesport Candy Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, established in 1927.
A Christmas season petroleum-products history is told in the society’s An Oleaginous History of Wax Lips.
Oklahoma Historical Society seeks Presentations for 2014 Annual Meeting
“Crossroads of Commerce: The Free Enterprise History of Oklahoma” is the theme for the 2014 annual meeting of the Oklahoma Historical Society, which is now seeking papers – and presenters – for April 23 – 25 gathering at the Stillwater Community Center in Stillwater.
“From the territorial era to the present, Oklahoma has been shaped by inventions and innovations in its business and industrial development,” explains the society’s Paul Lambert, who notes the role of petroleum. “Throughout this period, Oklahomans have combined capital, hard work, creativity, and emerging markets to drive the wheels of economic development.”
One-page proposals should include a title, a 100-word description of the presentation (20 to 30 minutes), contact information, and a brief biographical sketch, says Lambert. Deadline for submitting presentation proposals is December 31, 2013.
Send your proposal to: Annual Meeting Committee, Attn: Paul Lambert, Oklahoma Historical Society, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73105 – or emailed it to Lambert at email@example.com.
Earth Science Week maps World
Since October 1998, the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) has organized an international event to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth Sciences and to encourage stewardship of the earth.
This year’s Earth Science Week will be held from October 13-19, celebrating the 2013 theme “Mapping Our World,” according to the Alexandria, Virginia-based organization. Educational materials and resources are provided by program partners, including NASA, the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, Esri, ExxonMobil, and professional geoscientific societies.
In Texas, AGI is collaborating with the Houston Geological Society and the Houston Independent School District to extend the reach of the Earth Science Week campaign with special events, educational materials, online resources, and activities in schools.
Vintage Postcards teach Texas Petroleum History
A Houston geologist is sharing his collection of postcards – and expertise in oil and natural gas history.
“The newest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s popular Postcard History Series is Texas Oil and Gas by Jeff A. Spencer,” proclaims Arcadia’s Suzanne Lynch.
“Texas Oil and Gas documents in postcards the rapid growth of the Texas petroleum industry from its beginnings near Corsicana in the 1890s through the next several decades of oil booms throughout the state,” Lynch adds.
Spencer, who has published more than 20 oilfield history papers, is a geologist with Amromco Energy. He received a B.S. in geology from the University of Cincinnati and a M.S. in earth sciences from the University of New Orleans.
His book, which boasts more than 200 vintage images, deserves to be in Texas classrooms, notes a September 2013 American Oil & Gas Historical Society book review, “Postcards from the Texas Oil Patch.”
Rigzone encourages Visits to Oil and Gas Museums
Noting the 4.5 million miles of roads that have resulted from the rise of the automobile over the past century, an August 8, 2013, website posting encourages travelers to visit petroleum museums – and learn the history of what helped make their summer vacation possible.
The article features 13 oil museums that “exist along some of the highways and byways of the U.S. and Canada to chronicle the oil and gas industry’s impact on transportation and myriad other aspects of modern life.”
Rigzone’s website now includes “a list of some museums that you may want to visit while driving along these roads, either for work or pleasure,” notes Senior Editor Mathew V. Veazey, one of the authors.
The museum list in Hit the Road, Learn About Oil and Gas is far from exhaustive,” adds Veazey. “But it provides a snapshot of the abundant roadside attractions that pay tribute to the oil and gas industry’s past, present and future. Enjoy the ride!”
California Oil Museum opens “How It Works: Hydraulic Fracturing”
“Hydraulic fracturing has had an enormous impact on America’s energy history, particularly in recent times,” notes an article in California’s Santa Paula News about a petroleum exhibit at a local museum that opened June 27, 2013.
“The ability to produce more oil and natural gas to develop new sources once thought impossible has made the process valuable for U.S. domestic energy production,” the article explains, adding that hydraulic fracturing is a well treatment technology for stimulating production that has been used on more than one million wells.
The public is encouraged to learn more at the California Oil Museum – located the original home of Union Oil Company, built in 1890.
“Hydraulic fracturing is not a new concept,” the newspaper reports, citing early commercial applications in the Hugoton field of Kansas in 1946 and Duncan, Oklahoma, in 1949.
“In the ensuing 60 plus years, the use of hydraulic fracturing has developed into a routine technology that is frequently used in the completion of gas wells, particularly those involved in what is called ‘unconventional production,’ such as production from so-called ‘tight shale’ reservoirs.”
The California Oil Museum “How It Works: Hydraulic Fracturing” exhibit will be open until October 20, 2013. Also see “Shooters – A ‘Fracking’ History.”
LNG fueled 1970 Land Speed Record
The Blue Flame made a spectacular debut at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. In October 1970, the 38-foot, 6,500-pound rocket-car set a world land speed record of 630.388 mph. Its historic achievement should serve as a lesson in natural gas energy education.
The American Oil and Gas Historical Society believes the Blue Flame’s world record, fueled by liquefied natural gas, should be used to educate the public – especially young people – about LNG in modern transportation. Sponsors are needed for this.
The historical society is proud to be working with Dick Keller and promoting his fascinating story, which includes his narration of a video created from his own original 16-mm color film.
Today, both condensed and liquefied natural gas are becoming mainstream transportation fuels, notes the American Gas Association, a Blue Flame sponsor in the late 1960s.
In March 2013, one of China’s largest private companies announced plans to set up 50 natural gas fueling stations for trucks along U.S. highways. Royal Dutch Shell also is building a network of pumps at 100 Travel Centers of America.
The Blue Flame’s world land speed record stood for more than a decade. Read more about Dick Keller’s thrilling achievement in the historical society’s article “The Blue Flame – Natural Gas Rocket Car.”
Watch a special 26-minute documentary narrated by Keller at “Speedquest Speaks” on YouTube.
Contact the historical society to learn more about energy education and the Blue Flame.
Pennsylvania Oil Heritage Festivals
“Come join us on the fourth Sunday of June, 2013 – June 23rd- for the 131st anniversary of the great 1882 Oil Excitement in Cherry Grove, Pennsylvania,” says Ed Atwood, treasurer for the Cherry Grove Old Home and Community Day.
Located in southern Warren County, in the Pennsylvania Wilds, the hilltop settlement of Cherry Grove saw national history in the Spring and Summer of 1882 when the 646 “Mystery Well” ushered in a great oil boom. In a matter of months, hundreds of oil wells were drilled and a town sprang up in this isolated township in the hills.
Although the boom went bust and thousands of people moved on, those who remained kept the memory of the “Oil Excitement” alive with reunions that became known as “Old Home Day.” In 1982, a group of Old Home Day regulars volunteered to build a replica of the historic 646 Mystery Well.
Atwood says volunteers completed a life-size 1882 style oil derrick and shanty in time for the well’s centennial celebration. In preparation for the 125th anniversary in 2007, volunteers came together once again to rebuild the Replica of the 646 Mystery Well.
There is no admission fee for visitors, Atwood says. “Anyone who is interested in oil field history, or the history of Cherry Grove, is encouraged to participate to keep the history alive.”
Contact Atwood – firstname.lastname@example.org – or by calling (814) 726-2774.
The 35th Annual Oil Heritage Festival will be held in downtown Oil City, Pennsylvania July 25 -28, 2013.
Daily evening “Concerts in the Park” along the scenic Allegheny river are complemented by a host of food vendors, fireworks displays, artisan craft fair, large parade, and over two dozen additional events that take place throughout the community.
You won’t want to miss annual favorites such as the Children’s Parade, Kids Fun Fair, Farmers Market, YWCA Spaghetti Supper, Ice Cream Social and the 12th Annual Car & Motorcycle Cruise-In.
Please join us for the 35th Annual Oil Heritage Festival!
The ongoing success of the festival is a credit to the Festival Sponsors, Committee Members, and to the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who make it happen.
The 154th Oil Festival in downtown Titusville takes place August 10-11, 2013.
Events include an all-class reunion of Titusville High School alumnae, craft shows, a 5K run/walk, art show and chalk walk. A parade on Saturday begins at 11 a.m. There will be tours of the Ida Tarbell House at 1 p.m. and fireworks at 10 p.m.
For third year, an “Oilfest Wine Rush” will allow visitors to sample wines and food from many wineries and caterers while enjoying the live music and the craft fair throughout the evening. Tickets are $20.
The wine walk will begin at 5 p.m. on August 9 at the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce, where participants will receive your souvenir tasting glass. For more information, call the chamber at (814) 827-2941. The festival marks the 153rd anniversary of the first oil discovery – by Edwin L. Drake – in 1859.
Tulsa Historical Society to host Vintage Event
On June 7, 2013, the Tulsa Historical Society presents its inaugural signature event the “Vintage Tulsa – Oil Barons Ball.”
An elegant and lively dinner and dance at the Tulsa Historical Society Travis Mansion and Vintage Gardens. Enjoy an evening filled with music, entertainment and many surprises all vividly reminiscent of the exciting time Tulsa emerged as a modern, sophisticated city and attracted world-wide recognition.
This is your chance to experience the majestic Travis Mansion as it first appeared as a dazzling hilltop landmark in Tulsa when our city rightfully became known as the “Oil Capitol of the World.”
For more information, contact Meredith Miers at email@example.com or call 918-712-9484.
Los Angeles artist Barbara Fritsche’s mural resembles the Buena Vista oilfields and “the blue collar appeal and respect of the environment surrounded by a biblical sunset, famous in this area.”
Fritsche’s oil on canvas board mural, which originated as a commission for an independent oilman, is now looking for a home in a museum or other appropriate location.
Contact Barbara Fritsche, firstname.lastname@example.org, at Fine Art, 1308 Factory Place,Los Angeles CA. 90013. View a video at her Barbara Fritsche website.
Oil Historians to Meet in Pittsburgh May 16-18, 2013
The annual Petroleum History Institute Oil History Symposium and Field Trip will take place May 16-18, 2013, in Pittsburgh – “the birthplace of U. S. crude oil refining,” notes Bill Brice, editor of the group’s annual journal, Oil-Industry History.
“Our conference hotel, the historic Omni William Penn, is only a few blocks from where Samuel Kier had the first commercial refinery operating in the early 1850s,” Brice explains. “If all goes as planned, we will have some surprise guests at the Thursday evening reception.”
The meeting takes place prior to the annual conference of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists,May 19-22, “so come early and stay for both meetings – only requires one trip to get both meetings,” concludes Brice, who has edited the peer-reviewed Oil-Industry History for 10 years. Register at the Petroleum History Institute website.
Energy Information Administration offers Facts about U.S. Resources
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is responsible for developing data, analyses and forecasts to encourage public understanding of energy issues.
EIA maintains an “Energy Kids” website for teachers and young people. “Our teacher guide provides energy lessons that use this website as a resource. The guide provides Language Arts, Math, Performing Arts, Science and Social Studies extension activities by age levels.”
The frequently updated EIA website also provides fact sheets, reference guides for annual domestic and international energy data – and informative charts like the one above.
K-12 Resources available as Earth Science Week sets 2013 Theme
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) has announced that the theme of Earth Science Week 2013 will be “Mapping Our World.” This year’s event, October 13-19, will promote awareness of maps and mapping technologies in the geosciences.
“With this theme, Earth Science Week highlights the ways that Earth scientists use maps to understand our planet and how humans use the land,” says Outreach Manager Geoff Camphire.
Separately, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) has expanded its educational resources for teachers.
In addition to resources available at AGI’s K-5 GeoSource and Earth Science Week sites, AAPG’s K-12 Teaching Resources site features the AAPG video library of more than 300 educational videos (AAPG’s Youth Education Activities Committee is expanding this resource).
An AAPG Visiting Geoscientist program allows colleges and universities to arrange for a geoscientist to visit with students. K-12 teachers also may request visits, although availability at the pre-college level is limited. “With members ranging from professional geologists and corporate executives to students and academics, AAPG has plenty to offer Earth science educators,” AGI’s Camphire concludes.
Texas Museum celebrates January 1901 Gusher
The Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum in Beaumont, Texas, includes 15 buildings that re-create Gladys City, an early 1900s oil town on the massive Spindletop field. Visitors can tour businesses in operation during the boom – and witness a gusher re-enactment. More than one-half million people have visited Gladys City since its dedication in 1976.
Oil patch postings about petroleum heritage. Share your stories, news and events. Read Today in Petroleum History updates.
New Dallas Museum features Energy Hall
Take a virtual expedition deep underground to explore a drilling rig from the inside out. From natural gas to solar and wind energy, every source of energy is fueled by science. Learn all about energy in the Tom Hunt Energy Hall.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened on December 1, 2012, in Dallas.
“Designed by 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thorn Mayne and his firm Morphosis Architects, the Dallas museum has been named in honor of Margot and Ross Perot, the result of a $50-million gift made by their adult children,” notes the museum’s website.
The $185 million fundraising goal for the site acquisition, exhibition planning and design, construction of the new building, education programs and an endowment was achieved in November 2011.
Visitors can explore the Tom Hunt Energy Hall, the Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall, the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall, and the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall, among others.
Noble Energy Chairman named 2012 “Chief Roughneck”
Charles Davidson, chairman and CEO of Noble Energy, was named the petroleum industry’s 2012 “Chief Roughneck” – an award first given almost six decades ago.
Today’s award is presented annually by U. S. Steel Tubular Products, Inc., a subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation. Davidson received his industry’s recognition on November 9 in New Orleans during the annual meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (an organization established in 1929).
Since 1955, the Chief Roughneck Award annually recognizes “one individual whose accomplishments and character best represent the highest ideals of the oil and natural gas industry.” A U. S. Steel executive presented Davidson with the traditional Chief Roughneck bronze bust and hard hat. Read more at Chief Roughneck Award Winners.
New York Oil Museum Expands Oil Patch Exhibits
Renovations are underway for a new and far larger petroleum equipment exhibit area for the Pioneer Oil Museum of New York in Bolivar. New visitors arrive every day.
Interest in petroleum history has grown thanks natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale, one of the largest natural gas plays on the continent.
The museum’s website promotes new exhibits, the result of a dedicated group of volunteers and the generosity of the New York State Oil Producers Association.
The museum has purchased a six-acre site formerly housing the Hahn & Schaffner Oil Pipe Supply Company, first established in Bolivar in 1921.
Renovations include renovating the old store and adding new electric, insulation, plumbing, and heating.
Much of the building’s original tin ceiling has been saved, according to Pioneer Oil Museum of New York, Inc., President Paul Plants. Future exhibits at the Hahn & Schaffner site will include several working antique engines recently donated, and restored equipment buildings to house an actual pipe threading machine and related exhibits.
One rare Pioneer Oil Museum exhibit is a portable “dynamite making machine” — a wagon used to load dynamite sticks for shooting wells.
From 5th graders to college students the museum offers something of value,” says Director Kelly Lounsberry, a Bolivar school teacher. “Whether you are studying the geological characteristics of this area or learning about the oil heritage of Western New York, you can find it all in one place.”
The Art of the Petroleum Museum
According to the American Association of Museums, there are 17,500 museums in the United States – with an estimated 850 million visitors per year. A survey found that the median annual attendance for natural history museums was 58,176. Attendance at science museums was 357,103.
However, some fans of oil patch artists gather in West Texas, where the Petroleum Museum in Midland holds the largest collection of work by artist Tom Lovell.
The Petroleum Museum website notes that among Lovell’s work is “Bride’s Home at a Wildcat Well,” oil on canvas, 21.5 inches by 36.5 inches.
Like pioneer women for generations before them, wives of the early oil men followed their husbands into sometimes desolate environments, yet managed somehow to make a home. Lovell’s painting celebrates the resilient spirit o f these women. The setting is a wildcat driller’s camp. The young bride has finished her morning wash and has walked out into her vast open “yard” with tin plate in hand to feed her flock of “chickens,”a covey of blue quail.
Texas Offshore Program educates California Museum’s Young People
“Jim McManus, a sixth-grade teacher at Ralph Dunlap Elementary School, struck an educational gusher Monday when his class visited the Santa Maria Discovery Museum,” notes an October 3, 2012, article in the Santa Maria Times of California. “His students received a hands-on lesson about how the petroleum industry works from the Mobile Oilfield Learning Unit, which will be at the museum for the next two weeks.”
The $1.2 million traveling energy-education project was created in 2008 by the Houston-based Offshore Energy Center.
The article continues: Students who visit the exhibit will learn a wide range of lessons from the MOLU and its consultant Michael Nevels, a retired engineer with the Offshore Energy Center which operates the unit. For instance, students Monday learned everything from when the first offshore well was drilled — 1911 in Caddo Lake, La., by Gulf Oil — to what household items are made from petroleum products — just about everything including toothpaste.
“The next time you take that toothbrush and brush your teeth, you can say ‘Ummm, that was good oil,’” Nevels told the group of 50 sixth-graders with a laugh.
Texas Law Journal features AOGHS
“I’m pleased to announce that we’ve entered into an agreement with the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. This nonprofit organization promotes the preservation and appreciation of our industry’s history,” notes Rick Strange, editor of the Oil, Gas and Energy Resource Law Section of the State Bar Of Texas.
In June 2012, Strange included the society’s oil-barrel history in the section’s journal. Established in 1938, the Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Law Section is the oldest section of the State Bar of Texas. It is among the largest and most active in the State Bar of Texas – with more than 3,000 members.
Chesapeake Energy supports AOGHS
The nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas (and most active driller of new wells) has pledged $5,000 to support the American Oil & Gas Historical Society’s energy education mission – and this website. The Oklahoma City-based corporation’s Community Relations department notified the society of the donation on September 19, 2012. Chesapeake Energy has donated more than $15,000 to the society since 2010.
“I greatly appreciate Chesapeake’s belief in the society’s work – and the much-needed financial support,” notes AOGHS Executive Director Bruce Wells. “Chesapeake’s generosity will help me continue to educate the public, especially young people, about a little-known but fascinating history. Petroleum history provides a context for teaching the modern business of meeting America’s energy needs.”
Pennsylvania’s Drake Well Museum upgraded
“A new interactive film and exhibits provide a 21st-century look at the 19th-century roots of the oil industry, and the industry’s continuing impacts on modern life,” explains reporter Valerie Myer in an article about the newly renovated Drake Well Museum in the September 2, 2012, Erie Times-News. “The exhibit, titled ‘There’s a Drop of Oil and Gas in Your Life Every Day,’ opened to the public on August 26. It’s part of an $8.8 million museum upgrade that also includes glass walls of windows overlooking the replica of Drake’s 1859 well, the first to successfully strike oil.”
AOGHS to host Class at October 2012 NADOA Institute
The American Oil & Gas Historical Society will host an energy education class, “Edwin Drake and the Birth of the American Petroleum Industry,” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 12, 2012, during the 39th annual institute of the National Association of Division Order Analysts. NADOA’s sponsorship of AOGHS makes this possible.
Contests add Fun, Learning to Earth Science Week 2012
The American Geosciences Institute is sponsoring three national contests for Earth Science Week 2012. The photography, visual arts, and essay contests – all focused on the event theme of “Discovering Careers in the Earth Sciences” – allow both students and the general public to participate in the celebration, learn about Earth science, and compete for prizes.
The photography contest, open to all ages, focuses on “Earth Science is a Big Job.” Open to students in grades K-5, the visual arts contest is titled “Imagine Me, an Earth Scientist!” Finally, students in grades 6-9 are eligible to enter the essay contest: “Geoscientists working Together.” Essays of up to 300 words should describe how earth scientists work together to deal with phenomena involving interactions of earth systems.
Entries may be submitted any time up to the Friday of Earth Science Week, October 19, 2012. The first-place prize for each contest is $300 and a copy of AGI’s “Faces of Earth” 2-DVD package. To learn more about these contests, including how to enter, visit “Earth Science Week Contests.”
Oil Museum’s Animatronic “Buddy” in the News
The East Texas Oil Museum’s popular, life-like rural electric lineman – a recently dedicated animatronic – is featured in a four-minute news story that aired June 10, 2012.
Produced by KLTV Channel 7 in Tyler, “Proud of East Texas: The East Texas Oil Museum” tours the museum on the campus of Kilgore College. It includes an interview with Director Joe White, who describes one of the main attractions, Boomtown USA.
The recreated boomtown – located inside the East Texas Oil Museum – takes its visitors back in time to the year 1930, says KLTV reporter Joan Hallmark. “The largest oilfield inside U.S. boundaries had just been discovered in East Texas and it was to change forever the rural region, the state, and in some ways, even the world.”
The museum, which opened in 1980 funded by H.L. Hunt’s Placid Oil Company, in March added a life-sized animatronic – one of several animation features popular with children. “Buddy” is a rural electric lineman who greets visitors. Other exhibits describe petroleum geology and drilling technologies. A museum elevator takes riders 3,800 feet underground to visit oil deposits.
White, the founding director, notes that the East Texas Oil Museum and its website today are supported by gifts, grants and admission fees. “Buddy” was created by designer Charles Paramore of Museum Arts of Dallas, original designer of museum and the nearby Texas Rangerette Showcase.
Wyoming marks Refining History
“Under a tin shed on the west edge of Lusk (Wyoming) sit two hulking cast-iron tanks protected by a bearded drilling rig worker and championed by a Pakistani ex-fighter pilot,” begins a June 4 article in the Casper Star Tribune.
“The tanks, used to distill and refine oil, are the cold heart of the old C&H Refinery, a recognized historic landmark and a unique mini-history of oil refining largely unknown outside Lusk,” says reporter Jeremy Fugleberg, who notes that the tanks were forged in Pennsylvania in 1850. The site is now owned by Zahir Khalid, a business consultant from Pakistan.
“Despite its hidden history and the new state historical marker placed out front, the tiny refinery doesn’t look anything like a museum,” the Star Tribune article continues – quoting Fred Chapman, formerly an archaeologist with the Wyoming Historic Preservation Office: “I can’t emphasize enough, the actual still might be the rarest petroleum industry artifact that exists today, anywhere.”
$1.2 Million pledged for Petroleum Museum Renovations
Continuing industry support for the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum’s capital program, Concho Resources has announced a pledge of $1.2 million to renovate the Midland, Texas, museum’s exhibits, according to a May 30 article at mywesttexas.com.
With Concho’s commitment and subsequent pledges, the museum has raised $10 million of the $15 million goal, with hopes that additional pledges will be announced soon. “We’re really hoping to have all the money by the end of the year and start construction the first of next year,” said Kathy Shannon, executive director of the museum.
Joe Wright, Concho’s senior vice president and chief operating officer commented, “The Petroleum Museum is not only an important landmark in the Permian Basin, but also a profound educational tool. Concho is pleased to be involved in this unique opportunity to support both education and the oil and gas industry within our community.”
Second Edition looks at Appalachian Natural Gas, Past and Present
The practical uses of natural gas were first introduced for the steel and glass industries in Pittsburgh. The increasingly important domestic energy resource began in the Appalachian states – as an unwanted or underestimated byproduct of the oil rush of 1859, explains David A. Waples in his The Natural Gas Industry in Appalachia, which explores the evolution and significance of the natural gas industry.
Now a second edition of The Natural Gas Industry in Appalachia has been published. The new edition includes information about the Marcellus Shale natural gas production. “This is the only book in print that details the initiation of the industry born in western New York and western Pennsylvania prior to the first oil well in Titusville, to today where drilling in the Marcellus Shale Formation is the focus of the energy world,” Waples explains. He can be contacted at email@example.com or (814) 474-9084.
New Director begins Work at Kansas Oil Museum
Jillian Overstake has been named executive director of the Butler County History Center and Kansas Oil Museum in El Dorado.
The 2010 communications graduate of McPherson College notes that Wichita State University’s public history master’s program helped her decide what she wanted to do for a career, according to a May 15 article in the El Dorado Times, which reports she is happy to be at a museum so early in her career.
Overstake now “is working on overhauling the website, brainstorming ideas for events at the museum and planning a membership drive,” the article adds. “She noted that many museums only deal with what has happened in the past, but the history center will need to adapt as the oil industry continues to evolve.”
The museum’s 10-acre site, about a 30-minute drive east from Wichita, includes a recreated boomtown – and the Rolla A. Clymer Research Facility, which houses more than 4,000 volumes about Kansas – and the petroleum industry – as well as rare books. A large collection of outdoor artifacts educate visitors about the first “scientifically discovered” petroleum fields, which in the 1920s attracted a new breed of geologists exploring the potential of anticlines and traps.
Canadian Author Joyce Hunt explores Early Oil Sands History
Joyce Hunt of Calgary “loves a good mystery and that’s exactly what the early years of Alberta’s oil sands history were until she started doing some serious digging. After seeing a newspaper advertisement from 1915 encouraging the public to invest in the real oil fields of the great north, her curiosity was piqued,” reports an article by the Oil and Gas Network.
“Hunt moved to Fort McMurray in 1973, when her husband took a job with the Great Canadian Oil Sands, and started researching the oil sands in 1978. Today, more than three decades of research has culminated into the newly released book called Local Push – Global Pull: The Untold Story of the Athabaska Oil Sands (1900 – 1930).
“Determined to discover everything she could, Hunt attended the University of Alberta to take the Archives Institute and Records Management course. She combed through thousands of newspaper articles, reams of papers at Alberta Consumer Affairs and found people to help her read and decipher handwritten maps, some of which are reprinted throughout her 400-page book.” Read the complete article at the Oil and Gas Network website.
It is expected that the history of the petroleum industry will again repeat itself and that the higher crude oil prices now prevailing will stimulate production and bring into existence new sources of supply which will ultimately overtake the increasing consumption. – 1920 article in “Imperial Oil Review”
Chesapeake Energy supports Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Oklahoma City Museum of Art – located in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City’s Arts District – has received a $150,000 gift from Chesapeake Energy Corporation, marking the first private gift given to the Museum School in its 10-year history.
“The museum’s educational programming efforts are instrumental in helping us fulfill our mission to enrich lives through the visual arts,” said Glen Gentele, director of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, in a March 20, 2012, news release. “We are so pleased Chesapeake has the philanthropic vision to recognize the importance of arts education and its capacity to make our community a better place to live.”
Headquartered in Oklahoma City, Chesapeake Energy discovers and develops unconventional natural gas and oil fields. It is the second-largest producer of natural gas — and the most active driller of new wells in the United States.
“The arts are an integral part of our community, providing both intellectual nourishment and social benefit,” said Teresa Rose, Chesapeake Director of Community Relations. “Chesapeake is honored to provide funding for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s Museum School and support its mission to foster a love for art in children and adults. We congratulate the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and Museum School on their 10-year anniversary of bringing art into the lives of Oklahomans.”
Oklahoma Historical Society meets at Historic Theatre
In case you missed it in our Exhibits & Events, the historic “Coleman Theatre Beautiful” of Miami, Oklahoma, is hosting several events for the April 2012 annual membership meeting of the Oklahoma Historical Society.
The “Coleman Theatre Beautiful” opened to a full house of 1,600, at $1 a seat, on April 18, 1929. Built by George L. Coleman Sr., a local mining magnate, the opulent structure with Louis XV interior design dazzled the audiences of the day. From that day forward the Coleman has never been “dark.”
The historic theatre was donated to the city by the Coleman family in 1989. Restoration and renovation of the Coleman Theatre has become a “labor of love” in the community – including the return of the “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ to its original home.
Improvements coming to Kansas Oil Museum
With important energy issues now in the news media — especially natural gas shale resources — public interest in history continues to grow. Today, many community petroleum museums are upgrading to accommodate new visitors.
In El Dorado, Kansas, work is underway at the Butler County History Center and Kansas Oil Museum, notes a February 14, 2012, article in the El Dorado Times.
The museum, which includes an extensive collection of indoor and outdoor petroleum exhibits, is adding sidewalks, cement areas for the pumps and upgrading some of the exhibits.
In addition, a large concrete pad is being place by the fence to the south of the museum — a secure place for pump-jack exhibits, the article explains. Workers will run electricity to some of the pump jacks to make them operational so people can see how they work.
The renovations, which include improvements to some of the museum’s oil town buildings, is funded by individual donations and private foundations.
“I’ve been dreaming about putting in sidewalks for a couple of years,” said Teresa Bachman, museum executive director. “This is a big step forward in my mind.”
Read the El Dorado Times article. Visit the Butler County Historical Center & Kansas Oil Museum.
Association offers State-by State Production Statistics
Every year since 1935, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) has published a fascinating annual statistical yearbook reviewing the nation’s oil and natural gas producing states. The Oil & Natural Gas Producing Industry In Your State compiles detailed exploration and production statistics for each producing state — and much more.
This publication can be very useful for teachers, students and industry researchers. The most recent issue has been posted since December 2011. Download the complete 2010-2011 PDF here.
In addition to the annual editions of this publication, IPAA Vice President of Economics and International Affairs Frederick Lawrence is responsible for a brochure, “U.S. Petroleum Statistics,” that includes about 20 tables of statistical data for oil and natural gas. Based in Washington, D.C., IPAA was organized in 1929 to represent the interests of U.S. independent oil and natural gas producers.
Rare Photos exhibited at California Oil Museum
Among the latest exhibits at the California Oil Museum in Santa Paula are 14 “mammoth and whole-plate photographs” by 19th-century photographer Carleton Eugene Watkins (1829-1916), among “the most highly acclaimed of early western photo- graphers,” according to the Steroviews of Carleton Watkins website featuring his work. The California museum’s photography exhibit will be open until February 12, 2012, according to Director Jeanne Orcutt.
West Kern Oil Museum in the News
A Los Angeles Times article features Taft — home of California’s Midway Sunset field — where the reporter interviews volunteers at the local oil museum.
“Anywhere else, linking an aromatic cup of coffee and a gooey glob of oil would quickly kill a restaurant. Not so in Taft, the Taft Crude Coffee House is a popular stop for hot coffee or iced mocha,” notes the November 27, 2011, article. Despite the environmental disaster of the 1910-1911 Lakeview Gusher, the industry has brought a century of prosperity, explains a West Kern Oil Museum volunteer.
During the Dust Bowl years, people moved west not only to work the San Joaquin Valley’s fertile farm fields but also its oil fields — and people still speak with a distinctive twang. “You know, Bakersfield is the fourth-largest city in Oklahoma,” says Taft resident Fred Holmes. Read the complete Los Angeles Times article. Visit the West Kern Oil Museum in Taft — and the “Black Gold” permanent exhibit at the Kern County Museum in nearby Bakersfield.
Muppets reunite to take on Big Oil – Spoiler Alert
“It’s a triumph of felt,” declares the Houston Chronicle. Kermit’s first movie since 1999 will be popular with children, as it should be. Will this 2011 movie educate them about the role of petroleum? Notes an Oklahoma City review: Walter wants to see Muppet Studios, but…overhears villainous oil baron Tex Richman plotting to seize the studio, raze it and drill for the recently discovered oil under it.
Drake Monument rededicated after Restoration
In Titusville, Pennsylvania, community leaders and the Woodlawn Cemetery Association Board have rededicated the Drake Monument, which has undergone successful restoration.
Edwin L. Drake is credited with drilling America’s first commercial oil well in 1859. Titusville Mayor Jim Nystrom proclaimed that date as “Driller Day” throughout this eastern Crawford County city, recognizing the monument as a “community treasure.”
According to Marilyn Black vice president of heritage development of the Oil Region Alliance, the October 19, 2011, celebration took place a year following the Cemetery Association’s decision to proceed with much-needed rehabilitation of the monument’s “The Driller” bronze statue, marble, and concrete elements.
Also see “Energy Economists Rock Oil Tour.”
“Peak Oil” and Petroleum History in the News
History in the Making? – The United States “will be well on its way to self-sufficiency in fuel and energy” within five years, notes an October 27, 2011, article in the London-based Telegraph: Readers already know about the “shale gas revolution” that has turned America into the world’s number one producer of natural gas, ahead of Russia.
Less known is that the technology of hydraulic fracturing – breaking rocks with jets of water – will also bring a quantum leap in shale oil supply, mostly from the Bakken fields in North Dakota, Eagle Ford in Texas, and other reserves across the Mid-West.
Remembering Peak Oil – A TIME magazine (October 3, 2011) features a brief Q&A with Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power. His1993 book received a Pulitzer Prize. An often overlooked summary about the idea “peak oil” noted: “This is actually the fifth time that people have declared the world will run out of oil.”
Shrimp and Petroleum Festival
The 76th annual Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival brings together thousands of visitors to Morgan City this September 1-5, 2011.
The festival, which has grown to become one of the state’s premiere events, began in 1936 when Morgan City’s port received its first boatload of jumbo shrimp. The festival became the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival in 1967 — as the oil industry became a vital part of the local economy.
See Exhibits & Events.
Michigan Natural Resources
In 1976, Michigan became the first state in the nation to earmark state revenue generated through mineral, including oil and gas, activity for acquisition and improvement of environmentally sensitive and/or public recreation lands.
A book by Jack R. Westbrook, former managing editor of the Michigan Oil & Gas News magazine, tells this remarkable story. It chronicles a 35-year history of “Michigan Oil and Gas Industry Investment Heritage in Michigan’s Public Recreation Future.” Read More
Iowa 80 Trucking Museum preserves and celebrates Truck History
In mid-July, the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum of Walcott, Iowa, hosted a 100th birthday party for a rare electric truck in its collection.
The museum’s birthday party for its Walker electric truck coincided with the 32nd annual Walcott Truckers Jamboree at its next-door truck-stop neighbor, Iowa 80, DeBaillie notes.
The 2011 Jamboree hosted nearly 30,000 drivers and their families from 23 different states and Canada. During the two days, guests enjoyed 175 exhibits; a Super Truck Beauty Contest with 59 contestants; an antique truck display with more than 200 vehicles; an Iowa pork chop cookout; a Trucker Olympics; carnival games; a concert and fireworks display.
The centennial birthday party at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum celebrated an electric manufactured by the Walker Vehicle Company of Chicago. Read more in “Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.”
Popular RR Feature Story — Adding Wings to the Iron Horse
America’s passenger railroad industry is in deep trouble during the Great Depression. Steam is giving way to primitive diesel engines, but the railroads’ distillate-burning internal combustion engines of the day are heavy and troublesome.
When the U.S. Navy seeks a new diesel engine for its submarines — encouraging invention of a 600-horsepower power plant — two unrelated company presidents named Budd will share their expertise to build America’s first diesel-electric “streamliner” passenger train.
By 1934, the Burlington Zephyr will set a speed record from Denver to Chicago, where it is exhibited at the “Century of Progress” World’s Fair. The engine technology’s cost advantages in manpower, maintenance and support quickly become apparent. By the end the year, eight major U.S. railroads have ordered diesel-electric locomotives.
Honoring America’s Petroleum Pioneers
Their reputations among peers speak of many noble achievements – and award deserving careers in the oil patch.
Every year a select group of leaders are honored by their colleagues, their industry, and their communities. Among the most prestigious awards is the Chief Roughneck, presented since 1955.
Other awards come from the Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas, the Offshore Energy Center in Houston, Kansas museums in El Dorado and Great Bend, and the Pioneer Oil Museum in Bolivar, New York. All host special award events or maintain their own halls of fame honoring men and women of the petroleum industry.
Still other organizations, including professional trade groups like the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, Wichita Falls, frequently host legends or legacy award dinners and luncheons. Universities in oil producing states also honor their alumni.
Ohio’s Marietta College, with its world-renowned geology and petroleum engineering program, adds members to its Petroleum and Geology Hall of Fame. The Ohio Oil & Gas Association maintains its hall of fame “as a way to honor those who have made their own distinct contributions to the Ohio oil and gas industry.”
Petroleum Museum Hall of Fame
The Petroleum Hall of Fame at the Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas — which added five distinguished members on April 14, 2011, is “dedicated to those who cherished the freedom to dare, and whose work and service helped build the Permian Basin — Let their achievements be remembered and their beliefs inspire!”
The Hall of Fame received its first member in 1968, several years before the museum itself actually opened in 1975. Induction of the 100th member came in 1999. In each odd-numbered year a maximum of four people are inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Those inducted have been elected by the museum’s governing board, after an exhaustive study of their qualifications by a special committee. Candidates not chosen in the year submitted will be automatically reconsidered in future elections.
The 2011 inductees were I. Jon Brumley, Sam G. Gibbs, William D. Kleine, and “the team of Mack C. Chase and John R. Gray,” according to museum Director Kathy Shannon. Biographical files and portraits of each honoree are available in the museum archives.
Located in the heart of the Permian Basin in West Texas, The Petroleum Museum includes a 40,000-square-foot facility housing photographic wall murals depicting early life in the oilfields, a West Texas boomtown, and a marine diorama of 230 million years ago.
Colonel Edwin L. Drake Legendary Oilman Award
In late June, the Petroleum History Institute(PHI) of Oil City, Pennsylvania, presented a life-time achievement award during its History Symposium in Marietta, Ohio. Oilman I.L. “Ike” Morris received the Petroleum History Institute’s “highest honor and most prestigious award,” the Colonel Edwin L. Drake Legendary Oilman Award.
The June 23, 2011, presentation took place during the Institute’s annual symposium and field trip — as members cruised aboard a sternwheeler riverboat on the Ohio River following a reception and banquet. Larry D. Woodfork, PHI chairman of the honors and awards committee, presented this year’s award to Morris, founder and CEO of Waco Oil and Gas Company, Glenville, West Virginia.
Originally from Oklahoma, Morris established an oil service company in Gilmer County, West Virginia, in the early 1960s and eventually expanded into all exploration and production, notes an article in the Gilmer Free Press.
After nearly five decades and a “nose for oil and gas,” Morris has drilled or operated 2,000 wells — and today is active in the Marcellus Shale, where he is drilling up a natural gas well every three weeks.
Well known in West Virginia for his philanthropy — donating millions of dollars to Glenville State College and other charitable enterprises — the Gilmer Free Press article notes that “Ike to this day, despite his fame and fortune, remains an unpretentious ‘man of the people’ and often stops in a small diner in Glenville for breakfast — and buys breakfast for all the other patrons who happen to be dining there that morning.”
The PHI 2011 award was presented by Woodfork, an independent consulting geologist and emeritus state geologist of West Virginia. He praised Morris and his “stellar business career, great successes and accomplishments in the oil and gas industry, as well as his contributions to the local community, including the very generous philanthropy of he and his wife, Sue.”
Both Woodfork and Morris have been previously honored as the “West Virginia Oil and Gas Man of the Year” — Woodfork in 1991 and Morris in 1994. The award is made during the September annual West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival held in Sistersville, an historic oil community on the Ohio River.
Chronicle of Gulf of Mexico Petroleum History
Is knowledge of U.S. offshore exploration and production history important?
Although America’s offshore petroleum industry began in the Pacific Ocean more than 100 years ago, it wasn’t until 1947 that a company drilled beyond the sight of land — southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana.
Now available online: the first six volumes of a project to study Louisiana offshore petroleum history — a decade in the making and still in progress.
“Understanding Louisiana’s relationship with offshore energy development must begin in the bayous, lakes and marshes of south Louisiana in the late 1920s,” notes the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), which is working with three universities to compile a history of southern Louisiana’s oil and natural gas industry.
Funded by the agency’s environmental studies program, the Offshore Oil and Gas History Project draws from economic research, oral histories, photographs, artifacts — and personal accounts gathered from former industry engineers, managers, workers, and community and political leaders, according to Ocean Science, a quarterly publication of BOEMRE, formerly the Minerals Management Service.
This offshore history project, begun in 2002 as a cooperative agreement with the Louisiana State University — which partnered with the University of Arizona and the University of Houston — has two phases. The six volumes of the completed first phase (a southern Louisiana offshore history up to 1970) are available online at the University of Arizona. The second phase focuses on the development farther offshore.
The first-quarter 2011 issue of BOEMRE’s Ocean Science notes that the two phases of the Offshore Oil and Gas History Project “forms the basis for understanding the evolution of the industry and how that is intertwined with local communities.”
Editor’s Note — The first U.S. well out of sight of land was drilled in 1947 in the Gulf of Mexico by Kerr-McGee Oil Industries partnered with Phillips Petroleum and Stanolind Oil & Gas companies. A freestanding platform was erected 10 miles offshore…in 18 feet of water. Read more at “Offshore Oil History.”
Museum Link Addition — H. P. Sears Oil Company, Inc., Service Station Museum
Born in Bombay, New York, in 1896, Howard P. Sears Sr. would begin his service station career selling oil as early automobiles became popular. He purchased his first gasoline delivery truck in 1923 and built his first bulk storage terminal near a railroad stop on South George Street in Rome, New York.
According to his son, Howard P. Sears Jr., in 1925 the H.P. Sears Oil Company was incorporated. By 1929 the elder Howard had built his first “new, modern gasoline filling station” in Utica. He would use the same basic design in 1930 for his second station (today’s museum) at George and Liberty streets in Rome. His third station was constructed on Main Street in Ilion in 1933.
The Sears Service Station Museum is the only remaining station of the original design once in Utica and Ilion. On the walkway located each side of the building are a pair of restored Erie Clock face pumps, notes Howard Sears Jr., who dedicated the museum in 2006 — and accepted an award of merit from the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica. Visit the stations at 201 North George Street, Rome, New York.
Also located in Rome, New York, is the Baum’s Castorine Company — a petroleum products company founded on July 9, 1883, by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum.
To read about another service station related museum, see “Wisconsin Petroleum Museum.”
Feature Story – Roughnecks of Sherwood Forest
Two bronze statues separated by the Atlantic Ocean commemorate the achievements of World War II American roughnecks. The first stands in Dukes Wood near the village of Eakring in Nottinghamshire, England. Its twin greets visitors at Memorial Square in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
The seven-foot bronze statues by Tulsa artist Jay O’Meilia commemorate 44 Americans who – during a critical time during the war – produced oil. They drilled in Sherwood Forest.
“The amazing and hitherto untold story, born in secrecy, has remained buried in the private diaries, corporate files and official records of government agencies,” note the authors of a book about the “English Project.”
Truck brings Energy Education to Pennsylvania Students
The Mobile Energy Educational Trailer greets young visitors at their own schools as the energy education 18-wheeler tours Pennsylvania. MEET-U is a program of The Friends of Drake Well. Contact Project Manager Joe Hulsizer at the Drake Well Museum, 205 Museum Lane, Titusville, PA 16354.
Spudder Discovered in Mojave Desert
A March 12 e-mail from the Park Service in California asks the historical society for oil patch research. Hopefully, there are petroleum museum staff and oil patch historians out there who can help us learn more about a 1926 Wichita Falls Spudder Model 15!
Mr. Wells, It was a pleasure speaking with you. It sounds as if you may be a tremendous asset to our project. I am assistant to our resident archeologist for Mojave National Preserve in California.
The cultural resource work in Mojave is to identify, record, and protect historic, and prehistoric artifacts. Our Superintendent Larry Whalon has given the go ahead to begin preliminary development of a wayside exhibit for said drilling rig. Thank you for offering your involvement. — Glenn Wallis
Glenn added that attempting to preserve the spudder may be a lengthy process, the resident archeologist is David Nichols — and the site is some miles over a two- track dirt road “in the middle of nowhere” in the Mojave National Preserve.
Thus far, in response to the Wichita Falls Spudder Model 15 (serial No. 434 Pat. Oct, 8, 1926) mystery, the historical society has tracked down a Popular Science of February 25, 1931 and learned that the business itself operated from 122 Ohio Avenue, Wichita Falls, Texas.
Harry A. Clark received five patents between 1924 and 1928, all related to the spudder and similar equipment. The October 8, 1926, patent is still a mystery. The Clark Machine Company voluntarily dissolved under the hand of W. H. Ealy on May 11, 1937.
The society has contacted Lisa Cooley, curator of education, at the outstanding Kansas museum — the Butler County Historical Center and Kansas Oil Museum in El Dorado, because of the museum’s large equipment collection, including a working cable-tool spudder. Staff and volunteers there may have suggestions.
We have suggested contacting F.T. Felty, a Wichita Falls oilman who has an outdoor collection of historic spudders. See our Petroleum Age article,“Felty’s Outdoor Oil Museum.”
We also have suggested that Mr. Wallis contact Don Maxwell, the new director of volunteers at the West Kern Oil Museumin Taft — or his predecessor Agnes Hardt, who still volunteers at the museum. They both have extensive knowledge and contacts regarding California’s petroleum heritage. TheKern County Museum also has an oil exhibit.
Energy Museum Seeks Oil Patch Folk Art for Exhibit
A great exhibition idea for 2011 comes from Ryan Smith, executive director of the Texas Energy Museum in Beaumont. Ryan has e-mailed the historical society that he is planning a special exhibition — and wants to get the word out to oil patch communities. It’s a chance to share stories…and folk art.
Ryan says next year’s exhibition will focus on folklore and folk art of the petroleum industry. He seeks help locating items for display at his southeastern Texas museum. Other oil and natural gas museum directors are invited to share their ideas and artifacts, he says.
“We are defining folk art in the traditional sense — items of utilitarian nature that have been artistically embellished or are the result of ordinary people expressing their traditions or values through the creation of utilitarian objects,” Ryan notes. The museum is not looking for the ubiquitous painting of oil derrick scenes, he adds, but, for example, a wrench that has been artistically inscribed or a workman’s bench with scrollwork. “I would consider a sculpture, model or work on paper or canvas, if it was created by someone reflecting their personal experiences or working or living in the oil industry,” he concludes. “Please feel free to post and share this request.”
Contact Ryan Smith at the Texas Energy Museum.
Kansas Museum Celebrates state’s Centennial
This year is a milestone for Kansas, notes Teresa Bachman, executive director of the Butler County History Center and Kansas Oil Museum. On January 29, 1861, Kansas became the 34th state.
Teresa’s museum plans a number of 150th anniversary events in addition to the annual “Kansas Oil and Gas Legacy Induction Ceremony” in March. The museum’s latest “Crown Block” newsletter also tells the story of a muzzle-loading cannon now on exhibit.
The museum’s six-foot long cannon, donated by City Services Company in 1982, and restored in 1996 by Carl Henn and Jim Lill, is now an exhibit that describes its use — for putting out oil tank fires. Especially in the Great Plains, frequent lightening strikes causes oil tank fires. At a safe distance, cannons were used to shoot holes in the base of burning tanks, allowing oil to drain into a holding pit until the fire was out.
Historical Society’s “Shooters – A Fracing History” Article Updated
About 90 percent of the wells in operation today have used hydraulic fracturing to enhance well performance, minimize drilling, and recover otherwise inaccessible resources.
Today, however, “fracing” has become controversial when needed for production in unconventional formations, such as “tight” gas sands, shale deposits and coal-beds.
This “Shooters – A Fracing History” article tells the story of a much earlier production-enhancing technology…and the Civil War veteran who invented it. The technology — first used in the late 1940s — has been utilized nearly one million times.
Chevron Celebrates 5 Billion Barrels of Permian Oil, Donates to Petroleum Museum
In late February 2011, as Chevron prepares to celebrate the production of five billion barrels of Permian Basin oil in West Texas, company officials announce a surprise donation of $1 million, evenly divided between Christmas in Action of Odessa and Midland’s Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.
“We appreciate being here because we’re allowed to be here,” said Gary Luquette, president of Chevron North America Exploration & Production, who traveled from Houston for the celebration. “We get our license to operate from the community. We’re thankful for 85 years of history and look forward to many, many more years.”
Editor’s Note — Chevron, headquartered in California for more than 130 years, traces its roots to an 1879 oil discovery at Pico Canyon, north of Los Angeles. The discovery led to the formation of the Pacific Coast Oil Company, which later became Standard Oil Company of California. The company adopted the name Chevron after acquiring Gulf Oil Corporation in 1984 — at that time the largest merger in U.S. history.
“Another major branch of the family tree is the Texas Fuel Company, formed in Beaumont, Texas, in 1901, Chevronadds. “It later became known as the Texas Company and eventually Texaco. In 2001, our two companies merged. The acquisition of Unocal Corporation in 2005 strengthened Chevron’s position as an energy industry leader, increasing our crude oil and natural gas assets around the world.”
In Midland, Texas, the Petroleum Museum’s Director of Archives and Collections — Leslie Meyer — hosts a blog where she shares her work projects and personal insights. Her “Adventures in Collections Life in the Archives & Collections Department at the Petroleum Museum” is a great way to explore the museum’s collections — and learn from Leslie’s enthusiasm for research and preservation. Her March blog notes: “The Petroleum Museum’s Library & Archives Center has been a hive of activity recently. We now have four faithful volunteers in the Center, working on various projects.”
Letter from Texas: 300 Children need Petroleum Education Material
Dear Mr. Wells,
I am the president of the Yorktown Historical Society. Yorktown is currently going through an oil/gas boom. Our society is struggling as many societies are in maintaining the Yorktown Historical Museum.
As an educator I am interested in presenting as many educational exhibits as possible. I would like to put up an exhibit and present a 30-minute presentation telling the story of oil and gas formation and the production of such to our elementary students.
We do not have computer access to this historical museum, so I must rely on classroom size posters. I know that you also must raise funds for your efforts and that you probably can’t give me what I need; however, I have written a grant and received a small donation for the purpose that I want to accomplish. Do you have some classroom posters that we could purchase so that an exhibit and presentation could be formulated?
Our city is very small. This would tell the story to approximately 300 children. This story is an important one at this period in their lives and the happenings around them. At any time they are able to see as many as 10 rigs from their homes. I would appreciate any help that you might give me in creating this exhibit.
Thank you for any and all of your suggestions and help. Beverly Bruns, President, Yorktown Historical Society, January 19, 2011.
Agnes Hardt Returns to West Kern Oil Museum’s Garden
Change has come to the West Kern Oil Museum, notes a January 14, 2011, article in the Taft Independent newspaper. Highly regarded Agnes Hardt is leaving her position as director of volunteers. Hardt — who began working in the museum’s garden in 1983 — became director in 2005.
“I wasn’t asked, I was told, ‘you’re it,’” she said with a laugh. After Oildorado in 2005, Hardt told the board that she would stay in the director’s seat through 2010′s Oildorado celebration. “The day after Oildorado was over, I retired,” she said. Don Maxwell has filled her vacated role. “They found Don and they could not have done any better. The first thing he did was help me with the ice maker and he hasn’t stopped since!”
Hardt is excited to get back to the garden at the museum. “I’d just like to take care of the flowers again, they don’t talk back,” she said. As the new director for the oil museum, Maxwell plans to revive the Standard Oil tradition of decorating the museum’s iconic wooden derrick during the winter holidays. He will use grant money from Chevron to help bring the museum to all of the schools on the Westside. “It might be that if we’re successful at the schools the kids will tell their parents, neighbors or friends about the museum and come on their days off,” Hardt said.
It’s clear that Don Maxwell has a passion for the West Kern Oil Museum. “Sometimes, I don’t think we realize how important it is to the community,” he said. Hopefully, with his help and that of all the tremendous volunteers like Agnes, the museum will gain the recognition it rightfully deserves. Maxwell was a key member in securing the acquisition of the saber-tooth cat exhibit, now currently on display.