February 24, 1938 – New Petroleum Product replaces Hog Bristles
The first nylon-bristle toothbrush goes on sale. Americans soon brush their teeth with nylon – instead of hog bristles, declares the New York Times.
The Weco Products Company of Chicago, Illinois, promotes its “Dr. West’s Miracle-Tuft,” the earliest toothbrush to use synthetic DuPont nylon bristles. This is the first commercial use of the revolutionary petroleum product – nylon, which is a synthetic polymer (a plastic). Women’s stockings will soon follow.
“Until now, all good toothbrushes were made with animal bristles,” notes a 1938 advertisement in Life magazine. “Today, Dr. West’s new Miracle-Tuft is a single exception. It is made with EXTON, a unique bristle-like filament developed by the great DuPont laboratories, and produced exclusively for Dr. West’s.”
Pricing its toothbrush at 50 cents, the Weco Products Company guarantees “no bristle shedding.” Johnson & Johnson of New Brunswick, New Jersey, will introduce a competing nylon-bristle toothbrush in 1939.
February 25, 1897 – Sucker Rod Company Owner elected Mayor
Samuel “Golden Rule” Jones, the founder of an early oilfield service company, is elected Mayor of Toledo, Ohio, on a progressive Republican ticket.
Jones, a 40-year veteran of the Pennsylvania oilfields, first earns his nickname in 1894 when he posts the biblical admonition at his newly formed Acme Sucker Rod Company.
Jones will introduce better wages, paid vacations, five percent bonuses – and become an advocate for eight-hour workdays as a means to increase employment opportunities.
Jones is elected Toledo’s mayor four times and serves until dying on the job in 1904.
February 25, 1919 – Oregon enacts First Gas Tax
A state taxes gasoline for the first time. Oil is selling for about $2 per barrel when Oregon enacts the one-cent gasoline tax to be used for road construction and maintenance. Less than two months later, Colorado and New Mexico have followed Oregon’s example.
By 1929, every state has added a tax of up to three cents per gallon. Faced with $2.1 billion federal deficit and declining revenue, President Herbert Hoover will add another one-cent per gallon federal excise tax in 1932.
State taxes now vary from less than 10 cents per gallon to about 70 cents. Consumers pay an additional 18.4 cents for a federal excise tax (unchanged since October 1997), which mainly supports a highway trust fund.
February 25, 1926 – Wyatt Earp’s Petroleum Investment pays off
Wyatt Earp’s oil well investment north of Bakersfield, California, pays off with a 150-barrel-a-day producer.
In his later years, long after his famous 1881 gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona, the former lawman has invested in the Kern River and Kern Front oilfields.
At age 75 – as Earp begins focusing on his biography and movie ambitions – he turns management of his oilfield properties over to “Hattie” Lehnhardt, sister to his wife Josie.
Disappointing results will later prompt Josie to write a family friend, “I was in hopes they would bring in a two or three hundred barrel well. But I must be satisfied as it could have been a duster, too.”
February 26, 1866 – Eaton Mining & Gas joins Indiana Gas Boom
Eaton Mining & Gas Company is established in Eaton, Indiana, as rapidly growing natural gas production begins changing the state’s economy.
Recent discoveries in the giant Trenton field spread over 17 Indiana counties – about 5,120 square miles. At the time, it is the largest known natural gas field in the world.
Within three years, Eaton Mining & Gas Company is joined by more than 200 companies drilling for and producing natural gas. Natural gas is so plentiful that customers are charged by the month or year rather than using a meter.
By 1890, more than 100 new industries, including 21 new glass factories, have hired 10,000 workers in what becomes know as Indiana’s “Gas Belt.” To attract businesses, communities erect natural gas flambeaux torches – arches of perforated iron pipe – and let them burn day and night. Read more in Indiana Natural Gas Boom.
February 28, 1935 – Chemist invents Nylon – World’s First Synthetic Fiber
The world’s first synthetic fiber – nylon – is discovered by a former Harvard professor working at a DuPont Corporation research laboratory. The revolutionary polymer fiber comes from chemicals found in petroleum.
Professor Wallace Carothers, after experimenting with artificial materials for more than six years, creates a unique molecule chain – that stretches.
Carothers has previously discovered neoprene rubber (commonly used in wet-suits) and made major contributions to understanding polymers – molecules composed in long chains.
Just 32 years old, Carothers creates fibers when he combines the chemicals amine, hexamethylene diamine, and adipic acid. He forms a polymer chain using a process in which individual molecules join together with water as a byproduct.
Chemists call it Nylon 6 because the adipic acid and hexamethylene diamine each contain six carbon atoms per molecule. Each molecule consists of 100 or more repeating units of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, strung in a chain.
The first commercial use of this revolutionary petroleum product is for toothbrushes (replacing animal bristles). But it’s women’s hosiery that brings fortunes to the Delaware chemical company.
Although the company patents nylon in 1935, it is not officially announced to the public until October 1938 in New York City.
A DuPont vice president unveils the world’s first synthetic fiber – not to a scientific society – but to 3,000 Women’s Club members gathered at the site of the upcoming 1939 New York World’s Fair.
The petroleum product is an instant hit, especially as a replacement for silk in hosiery. DuPont does not register “nylon” as a trademark, choosing to allow the word to enter the American vocabulary as a synonym for “stockings.”
March 1, 1921 – Halliburton patents Cementing Technology
Erle P. Halliburton patents his new oilfield technology – a “Method and Means for Cementing Oil Wells.”
After working in Burkburnett, Texas, Halliburton had moved to the Healdton oilfield near Ardmore, Oklahoma, where he established the New Method Oil Well Cementing Company in 1919.
“It is well known to those skilled in the art of oil well drilling that one of the greatest obstacles to successful development of oil bearing sands has been the encountering of liquid mud water and the like during and after the process of drilling the wells,” Halliburton notes in his patent application.
His well cementing process isolates the various down-hole zones, guards against collapse of the casing and permits control of the well throughout its producing life. It also helps protect the environment.
The revolutionary patent explains that oil well production, hampered by water intrusion that requires time and expense for pumping out, “has caused the abandonment of many wells which would have developed a profitable output.”
March 2, 1922 – Osage Indian Leases top $1 Million for First Time
Under the shade of the “Million Dollar Elm” in front of the Osage Council House in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, Skelly Oil and Phillips Petroleum Company jointly bid more than one-million dollars for a 160-acre tract of land.
Already legendary oilmen Frank Phillips, Harry Sinclair, Bill Skelly, Jean Paul Getty and E.W. Marland are frequent bidders to lease this promising territory on the Osage Indian Reservation. This sale is Oklahoma’s first million dollar oil lease.
Learn more about the major discoveries of northeastern Oklahoma at museums in Ponca City, including the Marland Estate and the Conoco Museum. Also visit and the Phillips Petroleum Company Museum in Bartlesville.
March 2, 1944 – WWII Pipeline begins East Coast Petroleum Deliveries
The first gasoline transported by the “Little Big Inch” pipeline arrives at Linden Station, New Jersey, from refineries near Houston and Beaumont, Texas.
This vital World War II effort culminates the “War Emergency Pipelines” project to carry both oil and refined petroleum products from the Gulf Coast region to East Coast refining and distribution centers.
German submarine attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast have made the unprecedented pipeline project essential.
The Big Inch line carries crude oil in a 24-inch-diameter pipe, while the Little Big Inch line can carry four products: gasoline, heating oil, diesel oil, and kerosene – each separated by solid rubber balls that are slightly smaller than the inside diameter of the 20-inch pipe. In its first year of operation, the Little Big Inch products pipeline pumps a daily average of 199,085 barrels.
After the War, both Inch Lines are converted to carry natural gas and in 1957 the Little Big Inch Line is converted back to a common-carrier products pipeline.
Read more in World War II Big Inch and Little Big Inch Pipelines.
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