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December 17, 1884 –  Article features Oilfield Thunder and Lightning, Fires and Cannons

Especially in the Great Plains, frequent lightening strikes caused oil tank fires. This rare photograph is from the collection of the Kansas Oil Museum in El Dorado.

“Oil fires, like battles, are fought by artillery” is the reporter’s catchy phrase in a New England magazine article.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology publishes “A Thunder-Storm in the Oil Country” – its firsthand account of the problem of lightning strikes in America’s oilfields.

MIT not only reports on the fiery results of an lightning strike, but also the practice of using artillery to fight such conflagrations. Read the rest of this entry »


Charles Duryea claimed the first American patent for a gasoline automobile in 1895. One year later, Henry Ford sold his first “quadri-cycle,” creating the auto industry. Meanwhile, New York City public workers removed 450,000 tons of horse manure every year. 

A growing number of unreliable machines soon shared unpaved U.S. roads with horses.

In 1906, a “Stanley Steamer” (above) set the world land speed record at 127.7 m.p.h. – still officially recognized as the land speed record for a steam car.

Of the 4,200 new automobiles sold in the United States at the turn of the century, gasoline powered less than 1,000. On November 3, 1900, America’s first national automobile show opened in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Read the rest of this entry »


Texas Oil Products Company incorporated in 1918 with $850,000 capitalization specifically to build a $750,000 refinery near the Houston & Texas Central Railroad south of Dallas, just outside of Waxahachie’s western city limits.

Texas-oil-products-refinery-AOGHSFounded in 1850, Waxahachie has been an agricultural, commercial, and transportation center in North Texas. Ellis County was one of the nation’s largest cotton-producing counties during the early 1900s.

With U.S. demand for gasoline soaring, the Texas Oil Products sought new technologies for its new refinery, planning for a capacity to process 3,000 barrels of oil a day.

The company turned to the Bostaph Engineering Corporation, which had recently patented a “ramage vapor-phase cracking process” (patent no. 1,224,787) to increase the amount of gasoline that could be extracted from each barrel of oil.

Construction began in 1920 and the Waxahachie refinery was up to 1,000 barrel a day capacity by 1922. The company marketed its high-grade gasoline as “Topoline.”

Although incorporated in Arizona, the Texas Oil Products executive offices were in Detroit. The president was G. Carl Fisher and vice president was Robert J. Fisher.

In December 1922, United States Investor reported the company, now capitalized at $3 million, had run afoul of the Michigan Securities Commission and was suspended from selling its stock.

“Many reputable brokers of Detroit are not handling the stock,” the publication noted. Some reports said the company floundered due to legal difficulties and pollution.

By court order, Texas Oil Products Company’s idled refinery was sold in 1930 to Star Oil & Refining Company of Fort Worth.

Today the Waxahachie Country Club sits on the old refinery property.

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