April 15, 1897 – Birth of the Oklahoma Petroleum Industry
A re-enactment of the moment that changed Oklahoma history highlighted the 2008 dedication of the Nellie Johnstone No. 1 replica derrick in Bartlesville’s Discovery 1 Park.
A large crowd gathers at the Cudahy Oil Company’s Nellie Johnstone No. 1 well near Bartlesville, in the Indian Territory that will become Oklahoma.
George Keeler’s stepdaughter, Miss Jenni Cass, drops a “go devil” down the well bore to set off a waiting canister of nitroglycerin – producing a gusher that heralds the beginning of Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry.
As the discovery well for the giant Bartlesville-Dewey Field, the Nellie Johnstone No.1 ushers in the oil era for Oklahoma Territory. By the time of statehood in 1907, Oklahoma will lead the world in oil production.
In the ten years following the Nellie Johnstone discovery, Bartlesville’s population grew from 200 to over 4,000 while Oklahoma’s oil production grew from 1,000 barrels to over 43 million barrels annually.
Today, a 184-foot derrick and education center, renovated in 2008, tells the story in Bartlesville’s Discovery 1 Park.
Read more about the Sooner State’s first commercial oil well in “Discovering Oklahoma Oil.”
April 16, 1855 – Pennsylvania Rock Oil promises “Very Valuable Products”
A report about oil’s potential as an illuminant will lead to the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company discovering America’s first commercial well.
A report from Yale chemist Benjamin Silliman Jr. says Pennsylvania “rock oil” can be distilled into a high-quality illuminating oil.
The New Haven, Connecticut, professor’s “Report on Rock Oil or Petroleum” is an analysis of samples from Cherrytree Township, Venango County.
“Gentlemen,” Silliman writes to his clients – soon to be oilmen – “it appears to me that there is much ground for encouragement in the belief that your company have in their possession a raw material from which, by simple and not expensive processes, they may manufacture very valuable products.” Read the rest of this entry »