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Brothers Amos and James Densmore designed and fabricated the first successful railroad tank cars used in the Pennsylvania oilfields in 1865. Patented a year later and built by the thousands, their invention improved bulk transportation of oil. Photo courtesy the Drake Well Museum.

The Densmore Railroad Tank Car will briefly revolutionize the bulk transportation of crude oil to market.

Railroad oil tank cars became the latest of a growing number of oilfield innovations when two brothers received a U.S. patent on April 10, 1866.

James and Amos Densmore of Meadville, Pennsylvania, were granted the patent for their “Improved Car for Transporting Petroleum,” which they developed one year earlier in the booming oil region of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Using an Atlantic & Great Western Railroad flatcar, the brothers secured two tanks in order to ship oil in bulk. Patent no. 53,794 describes and illustrates the railroad car’s design.

The nature of our invention consists in combining two large, light tanks of iron or wood or other material with the platform of a common railway flat freight-car, making them practically part of the car, so as they carry the desired substance in bulk instead of in barrels, casks, or other vessels or packages, as is now universally done on railway cars.

The brothers described the use of special bolts at the top and bottom of the tanks to act as a braces and “to prevent any shock or jar to the tank from the swaying of the car while in motion.” 

An historical marker on U.S. 8 south of Titusville memorializes the Densmore brothers’ contribution to petroleum transportation technology.

The first functional railway oil tank car was invented and constructed in 1865 by James and Amos Densmore at nearby Miller Farm along Oil Creek. It consisted of two wooden tanks placed on a flat railway car; each tank held 40-45 barrels of crude oil.

 A successful test shipment was sent in September 1865 to New York City. By 1866, hundreds of tank cars were in use. The Densmore Tank Car revolutionized the bulk transportation of crude oil to market.

Safer and stronger, riveted-iron horizontal tanks will soon replace Densmore tanks.

According to an article, the benefit of such cars to the oil industry was immense – it cost $170 less to ship eighty barrels of oil from Titusville to New York in a tank car than in individual barrels. But the Densmore cars had flaws.

They were unstable, top-heavy, prone to leaks, and limited in capacity by the eight-foot width of the flatcar.

Within a year, oil haulers shifted from the Densmore vertical vats to larger, horizontal riveted iron cylindrical tanks, which also demonstrated greater structural integrity during derailments or collisions.

The same basic design for transporting petroleum is still used today as railroads have put  dozens of other products – from corn syrup to chemicals – in the versatile tank car.

Although the Densmore brothers left the oil region by 1867 – their inventiveness was far from over.

The Densmore brothers invent one of the first typewriters.

In 1875, Amos assisted Christopher L. Sholes to rearrange the “type writing machine” keyboard – so that commonly used letters no longer collided and got stuck. The “QWERTY” arrangement vastly improved Shole’s original 1868 invention.

Following his brother’s work with Sholes, inventor of the first practical typewriter, James Densmore’s oilfield financial success helped the brothers establish the Densmore Typewriter Company, which produced its first model in 1891.

The article concludes: Biographies of the Densmores – and even their personal papers now residing at the Milwaukee Public Museum – all refer to their work on typewriters, but make no mention of their pioneering work in railroad tank car design.

Please support the American Oil & Gas Historical Society with a donation.


A neon reminder of its petroleum heritage shines high above Dallas.

Perched atop a former oil company headquarters building, now a luxury hotel, a winged oil patch icon welcomes visitors. The Mobil Oil Company’s Pegasus trademark has been a feature of the Dallas skyline since welcoming a national oil and gas convention in 1934.

The red Pegasus remains among the most recognized corporate symbols in American petroleum history. Although the Dallas skyscraper’s twin flying red horses – one on each side - no longer rotate, the neon glow is once again bright. Read the rest of this entry »


A marker on Route 22 at Murrysville, Pennsylvania, commemorates the Haymaker brother’s historic natural gas well of 1878.

In 1878, two brothers will discover a massive natural gas field, help bring a new energy resource to Pittsburgh – and lay the foundation for several modern petroleum companies.

Like many young men of their time, Michael Haymaker and his younger brother Obediah left their Westmoreland County farm to seek their fortunes in Pennsylvania’s booming petroleum industry.

The Haymaker brothers first found work as drillers for oilman Israel Painter, who had brought in wells a few miles north of Oil City in Venango County – not far from Edwin L. Drake’s famous 1859 discovery less than 20 years earlier. Read the rest of this entry »


“Michigan Oil & Gas History,” a 2005 Clarke Historical Library exhibit at Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant.

In 1860, Michigan State Geologist Alexander Winchell reported that oil and natural gas deposits lay under Michigan’s surface.

First commercial production was at Port Huron, where twenty-two wells were drilled, beginning in 1886.
Total output was small. Michigan’s first oil boom was at Saginaw, where production began about 1925.

About three hundred wells were drilled here by 1927, when Muskegon’s “Discovery Well” drew oil men from all over the country to that field.

The Mt. Pleasant field, opened in 1928, helped make Michigan one of the leading oil producers of the eastern United States. Mount Pleasant became known as the “Oil Capital of Michigan.”

Efforts of the industry itself resulted in excellent state laws regulating petroleum output. Well depths ranged from one thousand to six thousand feet.

New wells are constantly opened as exploration continues. – 1961 Michigan historical marker.

Frank Boles, director of the Clarke Historical Library, designed the petroleum history exhibit that creatively used documents and photographs to capture the attention of students.

Central Michigan University Oil Exhibit

In the summer of 2005, a special petroleum exhibit opened at Central Michigan University’s (CMU) Clarke Historical Library, Mount Pleasant.

“They work hard, take risks, prosper, and by and large benefit everybody,” noted Frank Boles, director of the Clarke Historical Library, about oil and natural gas producers. “What I didn’t understand about the industry is that these people all know each other.”

The library told their story with an “Oil and Natural Gas in Michigan” exhibit.

The state’s abundant oil production comes as a surprise to many, said Boles, who put the exhibit together with the cooperation of the Michigan Oil & Gas Association and the Michigan Oil & Gas Producers Educational Foundation.

Jack Westbrook, retired managing editor of Michigan Oil & Gas News magazine, marshaled the resources and worked tirelessly to ensure success, Boles said. “In a very real sense, there would be no exhibit if it were not for Jack.”

The exhibit was designed to designed to pique a visitor’s curiosity – and be transportable. The region’s students learned that Mount Pleasant, home to CMU, had its own oil boom in 1928 and today is known as the historical center of Michigan’s oil industry.

They were surprised to learn that more than 57,000 oil and gas wells had been drilled in their state since 1925 – and that Michigan ranks 17th in nationwide oil production and 11th in natural gas.

More surprises awaited those students who looked more closely, Boles said.

“We’re about usage,” he explained. “Our profit is people coming in, using our resources, and hopefully learning something. We want our exhibits to prompt them to dig deeper.”

For example, students learn that after decades of dry holes or small oil discoveries, the Houseknecht No. 1 discovery well on January 7, 1957, revealed Michigan’s largest oil field, 29-miles-long.

Ferne Houseknecht had convinced her uncle, Clifford Perry, to take time between his other farm projects to drill the historic well. Read more in “Michigan’s ‘Golden Gulch’ of Oil.”

For the exhibit, Boles used just six walls and eleven cabinets to tell this and other stories, so careful planning was essential. He said that from the project’s outset, pursuit of community support, resources, and partners was essential.

Proudly showing off his homemade miniature cable tool rig in 1932, Earl “Red” Perry Jr., age 12, is the nephew of Cliff Perry – who will discover Michigan’s largest oil field on January 7, 1957.

The exhibit began with storyboarding and the interactive process of writing and rewriting proposed text. Large photo formats with understandable text dominated the walls, while display cases featured unique artifacts and documents.

Visitors discovered a rich oil history and learned of the complex environmental issues Michigan has successfully addressed.

The 1970s “Pigeon River State Forest” ecological controversy was presented – along with its innovative solution. 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 or public recreation lands.

According to Jack Westbrook, all 83 Michigan counties have benefited from the fund’s $635 million collected from oil and gas revenues – and other states followed Michigan’s example.

His book, Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund 1976-2011: A 35 year Michigan investment heritage in Michigan’s public recreation future, is available at Amazon. See “Books & Artists.”

Visit the Clarke Historical Library.

Please support the American Oil & Gas Historical Society with a donation.


Students visit the Norman No. 1 Well Museum in Neodesha, Kansas, to learn about the November 28, 1892, gusher — and about their state’s modern petroleum industry. Oil or natural gas is produced in 89 of 105 counties.

After 22 days of drilling near Neodesha, Kansas, the Norman No. 1 well comes in.

This November 28, 1892, oil discovery is considered by many to be America’s first significant oil well west of the Mississippi River.

Beginning as just a four-barrel-a day producer from 832 feet deep, this Kansas discovery is the first to uncover production from the Mid-Continent region, which includes oil and natural gas fields extending into Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

“Norman No. 1 was the first oil well west of the Mississippi River to produce a commercial quantity of oil,” explains one historian. The first Kansas oil well was drilled in Miami County in 1860. Read the rest of this entry »


“Burkburnett was a sleepy farm town that transformed into a ‘Boom Town’ as a result of the North Texas oil boom in 1918,” explains the Burkburnett Historical Society. A 1940 MGM movie about it was a hit.

A wildcat well comes in on S. L. Fowler’s farm near a small North Texas community on July 29, 1918. The subsequent drilling boom along the Red River will make Burkburnett famous – two decades before “Boom Town,” the 1940 motion picture it inspires.

At the time of the Fowler No. 1 well’s discovery, future moviestar Clark Gable is a teenage roustabout in an Oklahoma oilfield. The well is completed at the northeastern edge of Burkburnett, founded in 1907 – and named by President Theodore Roosevelt, who two years earlier hunted wolf along the Red River with rancher Burk Burnett.

Although Wichita County had been producing oil since 1912 (thanks to a shallow water well west of town) Fowler’s decision to drill a well on his farm – an attempt called “Fowler’s Folly” by some – will bring an oil boom to Wichita County.

A collection of 1930s oilfield photography by Farm Security Administration photographers can be found at Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Fifty-six drilling rigs are at work just three weeks after his oil strike at 1,734 feet deep. Six months later, Burkburnett’s population has grown from 1,000 to 8,000. A line of derricks two-miles long greets visitors.

By June 1919, there are more than 850 producing wells in “the world’s wonder oilfield.”

The Burkburnett oilfield joins earlier discoveries in nearby Electra (1911) and Ranger (1917) that will make North Texas a worldwide leader in petroleum production. See Pump Jack Capital of Texas.

By the end of 1918, Burkburnett oil wells are producing 7,500 barrels per day. By June 1919, there are more than 850 producing wells in “the world’s wonder oilfield.”

Nineteen local refineries are soon processing the crude oil. The town’s unpaved streets are lined with newly formed stock offices, brokerage houses, and autos stuck in the mud.

Twenty trains are running daily between Burkburnett and nearby Wichita Falls. Yet another highly productive Wichita County oilfield is then discovered, bringing more prosperity for North Texas.

But eventually, the oil boom dies out. Affected by the Great Depression, Burkburnett’s population declines during the 1930s.

At the time of the 1918 Burkburnett discovery well, Clark Gable was a 17-year-old roustabout in an oilfield outside Bigheart, Oklahoma.

By 1939, the town has a population of less than 3,500. At the same time, the movie “Boom Town” is adapted from a Cosmopolitan magazine article, “A Lady Comes to Burkburnett.”

The 1940 MGM feature stars Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable, Hedy Lamarr and Claudette Colbert. It is nominated for two Academy Awards.

At the time of the 1918 Burkburnett discovery well, Clark Gable was a 17-year-old roustabout working with his father William Gable, a service contractor, in an oilfield outside Bigheart, Oklahoma.

In 1922, Gable would collect an inheritance from his grandfather and leave working in the Oklahoma oil patch for good.

Clark Gable’s father is reported to have said, “I told the stubborn mule if he left me this time, he need never come back.”

Today, Burkburnett’s population exceeds 10,000, thanks to agriculture, continued production from its historic oilfield – and the 1941 establishment of nearby Sheppard Air Force Base.

Among Burkburnett’s tourist attractions are the Bluebonnet Festival in April – and the Felty Outdoor Oil Museum.

With exhibits collected over five decades by Francis “F.T.” Sr., the Felty Outdoor Oil Museum of Burkburnett, Texas, displays machinery from the height of a 1918 North Texas oil boom.

“World’s Littlest Skyscraper.”

A footnote of the North Texas oil boom is the “World’s Littlest Skyscraper” in Wichita Falls. Just 40 feet tall with 118 square feet per floor, it has survived since 1919.

The building is a monument of the boom town era – and a Philadelphia con man who convinced oilmen (who were desperate for office space) to approve fraudulent blueprints.

J. D. McMahon disappeared after collecting $200,000 and completing his promised “skyscraper.” The fine print his investors overlooked noted a scale in inches - not feet.

“Apparently too busy to keep an eye on construction, investors ultimately found themselves owners of a building that looked more like an elevator shaft than high-rise office space,” notes Carlton Stowers, author of “Legend of the World’s Littlest Skyscraper.”

“The completed building’s outside dimensions were a closet-sized 11 feet by 19 feet. Stairwells that led to the upstairs floors occupied 25 percent of the interior,” Stower says. “Dallas and Houston may have sparkling skyscrapers so tall that they require oxygen in the penthouses, but has Ripley’s Believe It or Not ever paid them attention?”

The brick building has become a Wichita Falls landmark. Today it attracts oil-patch knowledgeable tourists. The city also is headquarters for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.

Please support the American Oil & Gas Historical Society with a donation.


Among its records for dry holes, Florida’s first – but certainly not last – unsuccessful attempt to find commercially viable oil reserves began in 1901, not far from the Gulf Coast panhandle town of Pensacola.

Florida’s first oil well’s site is by present day Big Cypress Preserve in southwest Florida, about a 30 minute drive from the resort city of Naples — where a museum exhibit describes the discovery.

Two test wells were drilled, the first to 1,620 feet and the second a hundred feet deeper. Both were abandoned. Whether that wildcatter was following science or intuition, contemporary accounts of his efforts reveal only a small historical footnote: “Florida’s first dry holes.”

Twenty years later, as America’s oil demand continued to soar, oil still had not been found in Florida. The state’s panhandle still looked promising – despite a growing list of failed drilling ventures.

Indian legends and a wildcat stock promoter’s claim of oil inspired yet another attempt near today’s Falling Waters Park, about 100 miles east of Pensacola. A tall, wooden derrick and steam-driven rig were used to drill.

At a depth 3,900 feet, a brief showing of natural gas excited area residents with a false report of a possible gusher. Undeterred, the oilmen continued to drill to a depth of 4,912 feet before finally giving up.

No oil of commercial quantity was found and the well was capped in 1921. Another dry hole. Read the rest of this entry »


September 18, 1948 – Oil discovered in Utah’s Uinta Basin

Begun in 1948 in the giant Uinta Basin, Utah's petroleum boom continues today thanks to giant reserves of coalbed methane gas.

Begun in 1948 in the giant Uinta Basin, Utah’s petroleum boom continues today thanks to giant reserves of coalbed methane gas.

J. L. “Mike” Dougan, president of the small independent Equity Oil Company, completes the state’s first commercial well in the Uinta Basin.

Dougan beats out larger and better financed competitors, including  Standard Oil of California, Pure Oil, Continental, and Union Oil.

Dougan’s discovery launches a deep-drilling boom in Utah.

Unlike the earlier attempts, Dougan has drilled beyond the typical depth of 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet. His Ashley Valley No. 1 well, ten miles southeast of Vernal, produces 300 barrels a day from 4,152 feet.

By the end of 1948, eight more wells are drilled and development of the field follows. Production averages just less than a million barrels a year from the approximately 30 wells in the field. Exploration companies begin drilling 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet and even deeper into the Uinta Basin.

Today, the Uinta Basin’s coalbed methane in Utah and Colorado is considered one of the major producing areas in the nation. The basin is estimated to have up to 10 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves over a 14,450-square-mile region. Read more in “Utah Uinta Basin Oil Discovery.”

September 21, 1901 – First Commercial Oil Discovery in Louisiana

Thomas Watson says oil was first discovered in Sulphur, Louisiana, in 1886. Above, the entrance to the Sulphur Mines “in its glory days,” according to the professor.

Just eight months after the giant discovery at Spindletop Hill, Texas, oil is discovered 90 miles to the east in Louisiana.

W. Scott Heywood – already successful thanks to making strikes at Spindletop – brings in a 7,000-barrel-a-day well.

The  Louisiana discovery well is on the Jules Clements farm six miles northeast of Jennings.

Although the Jules Clements No. 1 is on only a 1/32 of an acre lease, it marks the state’s first commercial oil production and opens the prolific Jennings Field, which Heywood develops by securing leases, building pipelines and storage tanks, and contracting buyers.

Heywood’s discovery finds oil at 1,700 feet – after some discouraged investors have sold their stock when drilling reached 1,000 feet.

By 1,500 feet, stock in the Jennings Oil Company sells for as little as 25 cents per share. Patient investors are rewarded at 1,700 feet. The oilfield reaches peak production of more than nine million barrels in 1906.

Editor’s Note – A retired professor recently challenged the date of Louisiana’s first commercial oil well during a presentation at Carnegie Library in Sulphur on September 6, 2011.

Thomas Watson, PhD., “has uncovered evidence that the first producing oil well in Louisiana was at the Sulphur Mines in 1886,” notes an article in the Sulphur Daily News“This information could alter the history of oil production in Louisiana.”

Please support the American Oil & Gas Historical Society with a donation.


 The Uinta Basin witnessed its first drilling boom following a 1948 oil discovery oil at 4,152 feet deep. The boom continue today - thanks to giant reserves of coalbed methane gas. Photo courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

The Uinta Basin witnessed Utah’s first drilling boom following a 1948 oil discovery oil at 4,152 feet. The boom continues today – thanks to giant reserves of coalbed methane gas. Photo courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

After drilling for oil in Utah for more than 25 years, in 1948 oilman J. L. “Mike” Dougan makes history.

His oil well, competed September 18 in the Uinta Basin, is Utah’s first true commercial well.

President of the small independent Equity Oil Company, Dougan beats out larger and better financed competitors, including  Standard Oil of California, Pure Oil, Continental, and Union Oil. The Utah discovery launches a deep-drilling boom.

Unlike the earlier attempts, Dougan has drilled beyond the typical depth of 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet. His Ashley Valley No. 1 well, ten miles southeast of Vernal, produces 300 barrels a day from 4,152 feet. Read the rest of this entry »


As the Indiana natural gas boom continued, communities took great pride in what they thought to be an unlimited supply of natural gas. They erected arches of perforated iron pipe and let them burn day and night for months. Indiana lawmakers banned these wasteful “flambeaux” lights in 1891 – becoming one of the earliest states to legislate conservation.

The late 1880s discoveries of natural gas in Eaton and Portland ignited Indiana’s historic gas boom, which would dramatically change the state’s economy.

The “Trenton Field” as it would become known, spread over 17 Indiana counties and 5,120 square miles. It was the largest natural gas field known in the world. Within three years, more than 200 companies were drilling, distributing, and selling natural gas.

In 1859, the same year that “Colonel” Edwin L. Drake drilled the country’s first commercial oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania, there were already 297 “manufactured gas” (known as coal gas) companies in the 33 United States. Read the rest of this entry »


Sound-Cities-Gas-and Oil Co-stock-aoghs

Washington is not a petroleum-producing state. Extended, significant commercial oil production has never occurred.

But in the mid-1930s, drilling about 40 miles south of Seattle, Sound Cities Gas & Oil Company, Inc., became one of the few companies to make a strike that excited interest.

The company, which had offices in Seattle and Tacoma (Puget Sound cities), wisely decided to drill where flaming gas seeped from the ground.

Using a cable-tool drilling rig near the town of Enumclaw, the company drilled the Bobb No. 1 well seeking a hillside anticline. Geologists had long recognized anticlines – created by the up-folding of rocks, similar to an arch – as potential oil and natural gas traps. Read the rest of this entry »


As is often the case, several petroleum companies have shared popular names, and this is the case with Evangeline Oil Company.

A circa 1920 certificate is for one Evangeline company that drilled in Texas’ world famous Burkburnett oilfield. It was a dry hole.

That North Texas field would lead to a 1940 Academy Award-winning movie with Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable. Read more in “Boom Town” of Burkburnett.”

This company also explored in Louisiana’s Clairborne Parish, drilling a well that produced a disappointing  30 barrels a day. The company established offices in Brockton, New York, and sold stock to fund drilling operations.

However, by July 1922, Evangeline Oil stock had “little or no value, unlisted brokers offering but a few cents a share and the price today being considerably under what it was six months or a year ago,” reported the United States Investor.

Today the certificate has collectible value and can be found on eBay.

In 1905, Detroit millionaire Leonard Frederick Benckenstein and others incorporated another Evangeline Oil Company in New Jersey, capitalized at $125,000 and operating out of Jennings, Louisiana – probably inspired by discovery of the state’s first commercial oil well near the Acadia Parish towns of Evangeline and Jennings in 1901.

As the newly discovered oilfield profited, investors and venture capitalists scrambled to get in on the “play.”

This Evangeline Oil Company was reported to be a “highly speculative promotion in oil.” It entered into receivership by 1912. Calcasieu Trust & Savings Bank was appointed receiver and recovered some damages from Gulf Oil and the Texas Oil Company (later Texaco).

Another Evangeline Oil Company was named in Standard Oil antitrust litigation, but this nominal Standard refinery competitor was also known as Central Asphalt Works located in Port Neches, Texas.

Note that this certificate includes a vignette of derricks commonly seen on those of other companies formed (and failed) in booming oil regions: Centralized Oil & Gas Company, the Double Standard Oil & Gas Company, the Evangeline Oil Company, the Texas Production Company and the Tulsa Producing and Refining Company! See Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything?”

First Commercial Well in Louisiana

Just eight months after the giant 1901 discovery at Spindletop Hill, Texas, oil was discovered on September 21 just 90 miles to the east in Louisiana.

Already successful thanks to making strikes at Spindletop, independent oilman W. Scott Heywood brought in a 7,000-barrel-a-day producer six miles northeast of the town of Jennings.

Heywood’s Jules Clements No. 1 well marked the state’s first commercial oil production and opened the prolific Jennings Field. He followed up his success by securing leases, building pipelines and storage tanks, and contracting buyers.

Heywood’s discovery found oil at 1,700 feet. Some discouraged investors had sold their Jennings Oil Company stock when drilling reached 1,000 feet. By 1,500 feet, stock in the Jennings Oil Company sold for as little as 25 cents per share.

Patient investors were rewarded at 1,700 feet. The oilfield reaches peak production of more than nine million barrels in 1906.

Please support the American Oil & Gas Historical Society with a donation.


The modern American petroleum industry was born in Titusville, Pennsylvania, on August 27, 1859. The Seneca Oil Company’s highly speculative pursuit of oil was rewarded when Edwin L. Drake brought in the first commercial oil well at 69.5 feet near Oil Creek in Venango County. Read the rest of this entry »


Midfields-Oil-Stock-Colorado-AOGHSIn 1918, a number prominent citizens of Yuma and Wray counties in Colorado got together to form the Midfields Oil Company, capitalized at $100,000 with H. F. Strangways as president.

The local newspaper, the Wray Rattler, followed the company’s progress and published advertisements. Stock was offered at $10 per share.

“The control of the company is in the hands of honest, capable, well known business men of Yuma County, and is in every way a home institution,” proclaimed one ad.

Although oil was the objective (natural gas pipeline infrastructure being nonexistent), Midfields Oil’s first drilling attempt 16 miles south of Wray produced “a showing” of gas in the “Black-Wolf Basin” and was abandoned.

A second well in 1919 proved to be the discovery well for the Beecher Island natural gas field in the Niobrara shale formation, which remains active today. Read the rest of this entry »


Spectacular production from the New Mexico oilfield encouraged further exploration. The 1928 discovery well brought prosperity to Lea County and the town of Hobbs, named for James Hobbs, who had homesteaded there in 1907. Photo courtesy

The Midwest State No. 1 – discovery well for the Hobbs field – is commemorated with a cable-tool rig placed there in 1952 by Southeast New Mexico Chapter of the American Petroleum Institute.

“It was desolate country – sand, mesquite, bear grass and jack rabbits. Hobbs was a store, a small school, a windmill, and a couple of trees.” - New Mexico roughneck.

Many have called it the most important single oil discovery in New Mexico history. The Midwest State No. 1 well – spudded in late 1927 using a standard cable-tool rig – saw its first signs of oil from the Hobbs oilfield at 4,065 feet on June 13, 1928. It was a long  journey.

“Finding commercial amounts of oil in southeastern New Mexico presented geologists with a perplexing problem in 1928 because the land was too flat,” noted an article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram. Read the rest of this entry »


Texas Production Company was incorporated on June 18, 1917, with capitalization of $1 million.

By 1919, this company brought in the Renner No. 1 well at 475 barrels a day from the Waggoner oilfield, near Electra and the recent extension of the Burkburnett field.

According to the Texas Historical Commission, oil exploration and production in this area was minimal until April 17, 1919, when the Bob Waggoner Well No. 1 blew in at 4,800 barrels per day. It was the first well in what became known as the Northwest Extension Oilfield, comprised of approximately 27 square miles.

Oil had been found in 1912 west of Burkburnett in Wichita County, followed by another oilfield in the town itself in 1918. The Wichita Falls region’s drilling booms inspired a 1940 Academy award-winning movie. See “Boom Town of Burkburnett.”

The company also appears to have drilled productive oil wells in the in the Humble oilfield of Harris County, bringing in the Bissonnet Np. 1 well to a depth of over 4,000 feet, one of the deepest in the field at the time.

That well produced up to 2,000 barrels of oil a day in 1921. In the same year however, a Texas Production Company investor sought advice from a leading financial publication. The answer was not promising.

“So far as we can make out you bought into an oil production of little or no merit, which has simply gone the way of any number of such enterprises,” United States Investor noted.

“Shares of the Texas Production Company are now being offered at a few cents a share by unlisted brokers which would indicate that a sale of your stock would net you little,” the magazine added. “There is no way for you to get your money back.”

United States Investor encouraged its readers to avoid investing in any questionable petroleum-related bonds.

“This may be a time for strong companies to invest in oil at a low figure,” Investor  proclaims, “but a company which must bond itself to pull itself out of a hole can’t do much in the way of speculation on the future price of oil to get back for its stockholders what has been already taken by unscrupulous promoters.”

Note that the company’s certificate includes a vignette of derricks commonly seen on those of other companies formed (and failed) in oil regions: Centralized Oil & Gas Company, the Double Standard Oil & Gas Company, the Evangeline Oil Company, the Texas Production Company and the Tulsa Producing and Refining Company! See “Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything?”

Please support the American Oil & Gas Historical Society with a donation.


In October 1917, Wyoming Peerless Oil Company stock promotions first appeared in the pages of the Cheyenne State Leader, Laramie Republican and Wyoming Tribune newspapers.

Within a year the new exploration company’s advertisements appeared in newspapers as far away as Milwaukee, Wisconsin: “Action Not Promises Our Motto,” noted one placed in the June 2, 1918, Milwaukee Journal (above).

Many U.S. newspapers at the time included similar promotions as oilfield discoveries proliferated from California to Kansas.

Oeerless-oil-stock-ad-AOGHSDemand for gasoline was skyrocketing, both for Model T Fords and World War I, which the United States would soon join. Oil companies proliferated.

Some used questionable claims to keep investors unaware of how risky and expensive the business finding and producing oil truly was.

Nine out of 10 exploratory well attempts proved to be dry holes – and drilling was expensive in such remote areas.

The Wyoming Peerless Oil Company set its sights on drilling a well six miles from the nearest producer in the Big Muddy oilfield east of Casper. Stock was initially offered at three cents per share. “Don’t wait for our first well to come in. You might not be able to get this stock then for less than 25-cents or 50-cents per share.”

Wyoming-big-muddy-oilfield-marker-AOGHSThe Big Muddy oilfield, located about four miles west of Glenrock in Converse County, was discovered in 1916, a discovery that touched off widespread drilling and brought about one of Wyoming’s famous oil booms. Today, a marker on the south side of Hwy. 230 at the junction with County Road 33 describes the historic field:

Big Muddy oil field is a typical Wyoming oil producing structure. The field, discovered in 1916, has produced over 30 million barrels of high quality oil.

Strata here were arched upward at the time the Rocky Mountains originated over 60 million years ago, to form anticline, or dome. Because oil is lighter than water, it rose to the crest of the dome where it was trapped in pore spaces between sand grains. The Wall Creek sand lies at a depth of near 3,000 feet and the Dakota sand at about 4,000 feet. The first oil well in Wyoming was drilled in 1884. There are now about 100 oil fields in the state.

Seeking more investors, advertisements reported Wyoming Peerless Oil ‘s drilling progress on its Big Muddy exploratory well: Down 1,475 feet by June of 1918; down 1,675 feet by July and down to 3,315 feet by August of 1919.

Although rumors of a dry hole began to circulate, the company continued to solicit more investors to fund deeper drilling. But after reaching 4,050 feet without finding oil, company officer Charles Straub announced the well would be abandoned.

If more funds could be secured, Wyoming Peerless Oil would drill a second well, Straub added.

“Efforts have been made to extend the limits of the (Big Muddy) field in every direction, but these efforts have all been failures and the area of the field is plainly marked,” reported the Oil and Gas News reported (this would change in 1950 with a discovery to the east of the field).

By February 1920, stockholders from Denver had petitioned a court to put the Wyoming Peerless Oil Company into receivership, alleging mismanagement by Straub and other company officers. Straub responded with a $50,000 libel suit, reported by the Casper Daily Tribune on March 5, 1920.

The results are obscured, but Wyoming Peerless Oil never drilled a second well and the company disappeared from newspaper accounts.

The Big Muddy oilfield now has produced more than 300 million barrels of oil and wells are still pumping.

The first record of oil in Wyoming came in 1832. An expedition led by Captain B.L.E. Bonneville took the first wagons through South Pass. Fifty years later, prospector Mike Murphy, bought an oil lease on the site of Capt. Bonneville’s “great tar spring” southeast of Lander.

Read more in Petroleum Pioneers of Wyoming.

Please support the American Oil & Gas Historical Society with a donation.


Outside the Page Museum of Los Angeles, life-size replicas of several extinct mammals are featured at the Rancho La Brea in Hancock Park. Although commonly called the “tar pits,” the pools are actually comprised of asphalt.

“Tar pits” form when crude oil seeps to the surface through fissures in the earth’s crust and part of the oil evaporates.

The La Brea “tar pits,” discovered on August 3, 1769, by Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola, exemplify the many natural petroleum seeps of southern California.

“We proceeded for three hours on a good road; to the right were extensive swamps of bitumen which is called chapapote,” Franciscan friar Juan Crespi noted in a diary of the expedition.

“We debated whether this substance, which flows melted from underneath the earth, could occasion so many earthquakes,” he added.

Crespi – the first person to use the term bitumen – described the sticky pools in southern California where crude oil had been seeping from the ground through fissures in the coastal plain sediments for more than 40,000 years. Read the rest of this entry »

Although the American Oil & Gas Historical Society (AOGHS) provides many free energy education research and resources, it remains a small, nonprofit program that needs your financial support. Please help with AOGHS outreach, including this website, by making a donation today.

An updated state-by-state list of resources and contacts for teachers, students and researchers. Also see our list of National Energy Education Contacts.

This collection of state contacts offers education programs (designed for grades kindergarten through 12th grade) with emphasis on oil and natural gas exploration and production. It is an ongoing research product – please contact AOGHS with your comments, suggestions or additions.

Contact the society and support its energy education mission.

When petroleum leaves the wellhead and reaches a refinery, it has moved into what is considered the “downstream” segment of the industry. Information about the “upstream” segment (exploration and production) is available from sources — in the oil and natural gas producing states.

Since 1930, the Independent Petroleum Association of American has published an annual magazine containing detailed statistics — including drilling, production, prices and financial information, operating rotary rigs, and much more.

For a collection of individual state geological surveys in all 50 states, visit theAssociation of American State Geologists. Many of the following resources are documented from updated information of the U.S. Department of Energy’s booklet Energy Education Resources: Kindergarten through 12th Gradeedited to narrow scope to oil and natural gas. Read the rest of this entry »


Since 1896, when the first commercial oil well was drilled in Bartlesville, many historic Oklahoma oilfields have been discovered: Glennpool, Cushing, Three Sands, Healdton, Oklahoma City and others – including 20 “giants.” Few have had the tremendous economic impact as the late 1920s oilfields of the greater Seminole area.  Read the rest of this entry »


July 1, 1859 – First Issue of a Gas Industry Journal

The first issue of the American Gas Light Journal is published. It is the first to report on the manufactured gas industry and subsequently the natural gas industry. Publication continues after 1917 as the American Gas Journal, which later combines with Pipeline Engineer International and continues today as the Pipeline & Gas Journal.

July 1, 1914 – Petroleum Technology Office established

The Office of Fossil Energy continues to support research.

Four years after the United States Bureau of Mines is organized under the Department of Interior, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Division is established. W. A. Williams is named Chief Petroleum Technologist.

The division’s Petroleum Experiment Station is in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. In 1977, under the newly created U.S. Department of Energy, the site becomes the Bartlesville Energy Technology Center (joining the Morgantown Energy Technology Center in West Virginia and the Pittsburgh Energy Technology Center in Pennsylvania).

In 1998, DOE opens the National Petroleum Technology Office in Tulsa and closes the Bartlesville Project Office. In 2000, the technology office joins DOE’s 15th national laboratory, the National Energy Technology Laboratory. Today, the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy continues to support research for “secure, reasonably priced, and environmentally sound fossil energy.” Read the rest of this entry »


June 18, 1889 – Standard Oil Company of Indiana Incorporated

“Opened in 1889, the Standard Oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana, was one of the company’s largest and most productive,” notes the Encyclopedia of Chicago.

John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company establishes an Indiana-based subsidiary when Standard Oil Company of Indiana is incorporated.

The company will begin processing oil the next year at a new refinery at Whiting, Indiana, southeast of Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »


William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s legacy extends beyond his popular wild west show. A Wyoming town and museum named for him preserve his Big Horn Basin heritage. Lesser known is his brief exploration into the oil business.

“Bill, the Oil King” stands by one of his cable-tool wells drilled near Cody, Wyoming, at the beginning of the 20th century. Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

In his day, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show made William F. Cody the world’s most famous man. His fantastic travelling presentations of wild Indian attacks on wagon trains, amazing marksmanship by Annie Oakley, and a host of other attractions thrilled audiences across America and Europe.

Buffalo Bill Cody was a tireless promoter of the frontier town he helped found in 1896 that bears his name. A Cody, Wyoming, newspaper he and a partner started in 1899 is still publishing today. The Cody Enterprise acknowledges W.F. Buffalo Bill Cody on its masthead.

As a partner in the Shoshone Land and Irrigation Company, he enticed the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad to build an extension from Toluca, Montana, to Cody to ensure future growth and prosperity in the Big Horn Basin of north-central Wyoming.

Always a businessman, Buffalo Bill had earlier formed the W.F. Cody Hotel Company when the railroad reached Sheridan, about 150 miles east of Cody, in 1892. He will open the Irma Hotel (named after his daughter) in Cody in 1902. Historian Robert Bonner notes that the veteran showman promoted his enterprises endlessly with anyone who would listen.

“He saw great possibilities in every direction, and he had an unquestioned faith in his personal ability to achieve whatever he set out to do,” writes Bonner in William F. Cody’s Wyoming Empire: The Buffalo Bill Nobody Knows. “He was always willing to back up his words with his money.”

The Irma Hotel in Cody, shown here circa 1920, opened in 1902 and remains open today. It was named for the daughter of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Photo courtesy of Lynn Johnson Houze,

The Irma Hotel in Cody, shown here circa 1920, opened in 1902 and remains open today. It was named for the daughter of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Photo courtesy of Lynn Johnson Houze,

The Burlington and Quincy line opened in Cody, population about 300, on November 11, 1901. The train depot was on the north side of the Shoshone River, across from the town.

Meanwhile, an oil discovery ten months earlier in a small Texas town had launched America’s greatest drilling frenzy, one that would create the modern petroleum industry.

Perhaps inspired by the oil gusher on Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, which would lead to hundreds of new Texas oil companies, Buffalo Bill and associate George Beck began searching for oil near Cody.

The Search for Black Gold

The fledgling oilmen began by using the same “placer claim” Wyoming applied to gold and silver. State law required that at least $100 had to be spent annually on development of each 160-acre claim.

Buffalo Bill’s prior disappointments in mining did not hamper his energetic promotion of the venture and search for investors – including Wyoming congressman Rep. Frank Mondell, among others. He and his partners formed the Cody Oil Company in October 1902.

The founder of Cody, Wyoming - and Shoshone Oil Company - "Buffalo Bill" Cody, pictured in 1916.

“It would be hard to imagine the history of Wyoming around the turn of the twentieth century without Buffalo Bill,” notes one historian. Photo from 1916.

Cody Oil drilled its first well at an oil springs just two miles from the town Buffalo Bill founded.

By August 1903, the well had reached 500 feet and was progressing well enough to prompt spudding another. But water encroachment ruined both well boreholes – and dampened Buffalo Bill’s enthusiasm for the petroleum exploration.

Six years later, Buffalo Bill and his associates once again ventured into the oil business by forming the Shoshone Oil Company. Rep. Mondell, undeterred by the failure of the Cody Oil Company, invested in the new exploration venture.

At $1 per share, Cody bought 2,500 shares and his partner Beck bought 46,666 shares. In 1909 they filed 115 oil placer claims south of Cody. Buffalo Bill energetically promoted his “Bonanza Oil District” to potential investors.

Although Shoshone Oil Company failed to find oil, Buffalo Bill continued to promote new oil ventures. “Don’t you and some of your friends want to come in on the ground floor - and make a real clean up?” he asked one  acquaintance. Shoshone Oil Company today survives only as a collectible stock certificate.

Although Shoshone Oil Company failed to find oil, Buffalo Bill continued to promote new oil ventures. “Don’t you and some of your friends want to come in on the ground floor – and make a real clean up?” he asked one acquaintance. Shoshone Oil Company today survives only as a collectible stock certificate.

According to Bonner’s book, during a visit to New York City in the spring, the determined Cody oilman carried pocket flasks of oil to show his friends in the East and to interest investors. “With what degree of seriousness we cannot know,” writes the author, some of his eastern friends called him, “Bill, the Oil King.”

Unfortunately for the Shoshone Oil Company, all the major oil strikes were found north and east of town; nothing of significance on the company’s placer claims.

If Shoshone Oil Company had drilled farther south and a little east of Cody, it may have found the northernmost extension of the prolific Oregon Basin. This field, discovered in 1912, has produced more than 482 million barrels of oil and 300 million cubic feet of natural gas, reports the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Today, Shoshone Oil Company survives only as collectible stock certificates. In 1915, two years before his death, Buffalo Bill promoted a new oil venture, writing to an acquaintance, “Don’t you and some of your friends want to come in on the ground floor – and make a real clean up?”

A plan to form the Buffalo Bill Oil & Gas Company seems to have come to naught. Success in the Wyoming petroleum business once again eluded William F. Cody, who died on January 10, 1917, in Denver.

“It would be hard to imagine the history of Wyoming around the turn of the twentieth century without Buffalo Bill,” concludes Bonner in his 2007 book. “He brought enormous, electric energy into the Big Horn Basin and the state as a whole.”

Founded in Cody the same year Buffalo Bill died, the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association opened the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in 1927, renamed in 2013 the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The Wyoming State Historical Society, founded in 1953, further supports historical research and preservation.

Also see “Petroleum Pioneers of Wyoming.”

Please support the American Oil & Gas Historical Society with a donation.


A June 9, 1894, oil discovery (while drilling for water) will transform Corsicana, Texas, from a regional agricultural shipping town to a petroleum and industrial center, creating a number of allied businesses, including service companies manufacturing the newly invented rotary drilling bits.

The first major oilfield in Texas was discovered in Corsicana – by a water-well contractor hired by the city. Some consider this well on South 12th Street America’s  first commercial oil discovery west of the Mississippi. Read the rest of this entry »


Although natural gas had been discovered as early as 1922, the vast potential of the Hugoton-Panhandle field was not known until a 1927 well about 2,600 feet below the surface southwest of Hugoton.

Although natural gas had been discovered as early as 1922, the vast potential of the Hugoton-Panhandle field was not known until a 1927 well about 2,600 feet below the surface southwest of Hugoton.

In southwestern Kansas, the Stevens County Gas & Historical Museum in Hugoton is above a giant natural gas producing area (in red) that extends 8,500 square miles into the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles.

A small museum sits above a giant natural gas field.

In far southwestern Kansas, the Stevens County Gas & Historical Museum in Hugoton opened on May 16, 1961. It educates visitors about one of the largest natural gas fields in North America. Read the rest of this entry »


On May 12, 2007 - as part of statehood centennial celebrations – state-of-the-art petroleum museums opened in Ponca City and Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

A circa 1880s Continental Oil Company horse-drawn tank wagon welcomes visitors to the Conoco Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma, which opened in 2007. Phillips Petroleum Company, once headquartered 70 miles east in Bartlesville, merged with Conoco in 2002.

The Conoco Museum tells the story of a petroleum company that began as a small kerosene distributor serving 19th century pioneer America.

The Conoco Museum tells the story of a petroleum company that began as a small kerosene distributor serving 19th century pioneer America.

“These museums reaffirm our Oklahoma roots,” proclaimed Jim Mulva, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, which built the Conoco Museum in Ponca City and the Phillips Museum in Bartlesville as “gifts to the people of Oklahoma, visitors to the state, and our employee and retiree populations around the world.” Read the rest of this entry »


By 1920, Tulsa is home to 400 petroleum companies, two daily newspapers, seven banks, four telegraph companies – and more than 10,000 telephones.

On a chilly fall morning in 1905 – two years before Oklahoma becomes a state – oil is discovered on the Glenn farm south of Tulsa.

Soon, there are hundreds of wells producing so much oil that the land is called the “‘Glenn Pool,” now the Tulsa suburb Glenpool.

This November 22 discovery well will help make Tulsa the “Oil Capital of the World.”

With daily production soon exceeding 120,000 barrels, Glenn Pool exceeds Tulsa County’s earlier “Red Fork Gusher” – and the giant Spindletop discovery near Beaumont, Texas, four years earlier. Read the rest of this entry »


Building a community oil museum is not for the faint of heart.

“Money and volunteers, volunteers and money,” are the biggest challenges, according to John Larrabee, board president for the Illinois Oil Field Museum and Resource Center on the outskirts of his hometown of Oblong, Illinois.

The Illinois Oil Field Museum is located in Oblong, Illinois, on Highway 33, southeast of Effingham. First opened in 1961, the community museum moved into a new building in 2001 and today continues to add new exhibits.

“The first thing you have to have is a goal and the determination to keep at it, no matter what. Don’t give up, whatever happens,” Larrabee explained in a 2004 interview with historical society Contributing Editor Kris Wells.

It helps to know something about the oil business, said the third generation Illinois Basin oilman. “The museum began way back in 1961 with a fellow named Enos Bloom, Larrabee noted. “In those days, the city of Oblong provided and maintained a building that housed donated artifacts.” Read the rest of this entry »


Requests for photography resources are among the most frequent calls and e-mails to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. Please let me know if you know of other useful links.

While the society provides free energy education research and resources, it remains a small, nonprofit program in desperate need of funding.

Support AOGHS outreach, including this website, by making a donation today.

Whether a teacher, student, researcher or journalist, a good place to start is your local historical society – or especially the nearest community oil and gas museum.

AOGHS encourages follow-up calls and emails that help expand its links for future “oil patch” image researchers.

Below are some of the best resources we found useful for vintage oilfield photography. Many historic photographs can be found with basic keyword searches at these sites. Hard copies often can be purchased from these sites.

For some library sites, downloading materials for personal use with proper attribution is permitted; however, this sometimes does not grant permission to publish. Be sure to examine each site’s copyright requirements.


Kansas Memory, created by the Kansas State Historical Society, shares a growing historical collection for the use of anyone interested in any aspect of Kansas History.  As with many history related sites (including, “the value of this site is in its rich content, including letters, diaries, photographs, government records from the state archives, maps, museum artifacts, and historic structures in Kansas. “We will be adding additional content continually,” the site notes.

The Earth Science World Image Bank is a service provided by the American Geological Institute — designed to provide quality geoscience images to the public, educators, and the geoscience community. With more than 6,000 images available to search, it is among the largest sources of earth science imagery available. Some restrictions apply for commercial use.

Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in our profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education.

Available from the Library of Congress, America at Work, America at Leisure – Motion Pictures from 1894 to 1915 is a collection of digitized early motion pictures featuring work, school, and leisure activities in the United States.

This excellent site includes 150 motion pictures from which single frames may be captured, as in this 1903 Pawtucket Fire Department image filmed by American Mutoscope & Biograph Company.

The Detroit Publishing Company Collection includes more than 25,000 glass negatives and transparencies as well as about 300 color photolithograph prints, mostly of the eastern United States.

The collection includes images from along railroad lines in the United States and Mexico in the 1880s and 1890s as well as views of California, Wyoming and the Canadian Rockies. The Library of Congress notes that it is not aware of any U.S. copyright or any other restrictions on the photographs in this outstanding collection.

The Library of Congress American Memory collection provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience.

This is a digital record of our history and creativity. These materials, from the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America — serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning.

Editor’s Note – The LOC’s American Memory collection includes spectacular stereoscopic views of the oil region of Pennsylvania and New York.

The California Online Archives documents early California history with the Bancroft Library, including over 200 digital images from “Oil Industry in California 1911-1914.”

Thumbnails and screen-sized images are included with caption information and date when available.

This University of Northern Iowa library provides an extraordinary summary page of web links (Digitized Primary American History Sources) that include photographs and other historical documentation.

A section entitled Cartoons – Images – Posters – Advertisements offers a further breakdown of topics and sources with links to the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Archives and Records Administration.

This interesting site is part of the Oklahoma GenWeb project and features Snapshots of the Past, which includes photographs submitted by visitors responding to the site’s request:

“Do you have an Oklahoma photo online or a photo you’d like to scan or have scanned to put online? Know of an Oklahoma event or historical site online? Send the link and we’ll add it to our ever growing list or contact us about including your photo online.”

TheNational Archives Library Information Center provides NARA staff and researchers nationwide with convenient access to content beyond the physical holdings of their two facilities in Washington, DC, and in College Park, Maryland. This site provides numerous links to information and images covering American history and government.

The David Rumsey Historical Map Collectionhas more than 17,400 maps online. The collection includes rare 18th century and 19th century maps and other cartographic materials in resolutions which permit detailed searches.

Maps are accessible through a keyword searchable database. Early Pennsylvania oil region maps and contemporary advertisements are well represented.

The Nineteenth Century in Print: Periodicals — collected by the Library of Congress — now includes 955 volumes and more than 750,000 pages from almost two dozen 19th century periodicals including magazines like: Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Manufacturer and Builder, Scientific American, the United States Democratic Review, and the American Missionary.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office offers full-text and full-page image databases. However, patents issued from 1790 through 1975 are searchable only by patent number, issue date, and current U.S. classifications. Attempts to search those patents by any other fields will result in an error message.

Editor’s Note – The search engine Google Patent Search is not as limited — and frequently finds surprising results — but does not include trademark information. The society frequently uses theses site for researching articles on petroleum technology. Read about Howard Hughes and his drill bit patent in“Making Hole — a history of drilling technology.”

The New York Public Library Digital Gallery provides access to 600,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of the library, including historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more. This massive collection includes excellent Pennsylvania oil region images from the Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views.

Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act on July 1, 1862, hoping to bind the Union’s East and West. The Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum website documents the mammoth construction efforts and features an extraordinary collection of stereoscopic views of railroad expansion across America. The website — launched in 1999 — has become a leading internet resource, welcoming its one-millionth online visitor in 2005.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1841-1902) is archived on this site with 147,000 pages in online digital format. Newspapers can be full-text searched for keywords or accessed by date of issue — which include good quality images of text and vintage advertising.

The Wikipedia public domain image resource listprovides comprehensive links to online sources of imagery with subheadings for history and specific periods of history. Importantly, the presence of a resource on this list does not guarantee that all or any of the images in it are in the public domain and users should verify copyright status of individual images selected.

In Kansas, the Wichita Photo Archives website is maintained by the Wichita Public Library Local History Section, Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, and Wichita State University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections.

These partners provide access to materials for educational and research purposes. Downloading from this website for personal use with proper attribution of the source is permitted; however, this does not grant permission to publish. That permission must be sought separately.

Please support the American Oil & Gas Historical Society with a donation.