Your source for energy education. Petroleum history offers a context

for teaching the modern business of meeting America's energy needs.

Oil and Natural Gas History, Education Resources, Museum News, Exhibits and Events

 

An April 1, 1911, oil discovery brought prosperity to Electra, Texas.

An April 1, 1911, oil discovery brought prosperity to Electra, Texas, helping to build the community’s theater in 1920 and high school in 1923. A commemorative afghan is proudly held in 2005 by chamber of commerce members Shirley Craighead, Georgia Eakin and Jeanette Miller.

Many activities are planned for the April 1, 2011, Clayco No. 1 centennial celebration in Electra, Texas -- including a parade and rededication ceremony of the well’s historic marker.

April 1, 2011, marked the centennial of the Clayco No. 1 discovery well. Electra celebrated with a parade and rededication ceremony of the well’s historic marker.

The excitement began with an oil discovery on April Fool’s day in 1911 near Electra, Texas. It became oil fever when “Roaring Ranger” came in a few years later. When a third drilling boom began at Burkburnett, even Hollywood noticed.

Among other things, these oilfield discoveries brought prosperity to North Texas, launched hundreds of petroleum companies, fueled America’s Model T Fords (and victory in World War I), convinced Conrad Hilton to buy his first hotel, and inspired the movie “Boomtown,” which would win an Academy Award.

As early as 1913, newly discovered Mid-Continent oilfields like Electra were producing almost half of all the oil in Texas. Refineries began to appear in Wichita Falls in 1915 when Wichita County alone reported 1,025 producing wells.

Nearby, the McClesky No. 1 well in Eastland County struck oil in October 1917. The “Roaring Ranger” in Ranger reached a daily production of 1,700 barrels. Within two years eight refineries were open or under construction and Ranger banks had $5 million in deposits.

“Roaring Ranger” gained international fame for Ranger as the town whose oil wiped out critical oil shortages during World War I, allowing the Allies to “float to victory on a wave of oil.” Read the rest of this entry »

 

His 1939 “Oil Fields of Graham” today remains on display in its original Texas oil patch community’s historic U.S. Postal Service building – now a museum.

Born in Memphis, Missouri, on February 22, 1898, Alexandre Hogue will become known for his paintings of southwestern scenes during the Great Depression – including murals of the 1930s petroleum industry. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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 »

 

More than 400 Thaddeus Fowler panoramas have been identified. There are 324 in the Library of Congress, including Oil City, Pennsylvania. Source: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Washington, D.C.

Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler has the greatest number of panoramic or “Birds-Eye View” maps in the collection of the Library of Congress. Lithographs of his cartography (done without a balloon) fascinated the public of America’s Victorian Age. Read the rest of this entry »

 

December 9, 1921 – Ethyl “Anti-Knock” Gasoline invented

Public health concerns will result in the phase-out of tetraethyl lead in gasoline beginning in 1976.

General Motors chemists Thomas Midgely Jr. and Charles F. Kettering.

General Motors scientists discover the antiknock properties of tetraethyl lead – and American motorists are soon saying “fill ‘er up with Ethyl.”

In early internal combustion engines, “knocking” resulted from the out-of-sequence detonation of the gasoline-air mixture in a cylinder. This shock frequently damaged the engine.

After five years of lab work to find an additive to eliminate pre-ignition “knock” problems of gasoline, G.M. researchers Thomas Midgely Jr. and Charles F. Kettering discover the antiknock properties of tetraethyl lead. Their experiments examine the properties of knock suppressors such as bromine, iodine and tin – and compare these to new additives such as arsenic, sulfur, silicon and lead. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Architectural drawing of the Boston Building in Denver.

Architectural drawing of the Boston Building in Denver.

In 1917 and 1918, with the United States fighting in World War I, the Double Standard Oil & Gas Company sought investors for the booming oilfields.

“Double Standard Oil & Gas Company is the owner of valuable oil leases in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming,” the company told potential investors.

Advertisements added that a valuable lease had been acquired in the new Electra-Burkburnett oilfields of North Texas. The lease reportedly included “eight producing wells, together with pumping plant, tanks and full equipment, connected with the pipeline, and selling oil.”

Noting that oil was then selling at $2 per barrel, Double Standard’s owners “expect soon to be getting $3 per barrel for this high-grade oil.”

The exploration company, based in the  prestigious Boston Building in Denver (built in 1890 and today a  National Historic Landmark), announced it was launching new drilling operations in the Electra-Burkburnett oilfield – and offering investors stock at 10 cents a share.

“You can join us in an exceedingly profitable business enterprise, and in doing so, help increase the oil output, which means, help win the war,” one Double Standard Oil & Gas advertisements concluded. “Write us for free map and further particulars. Special inducements to live active salesmen.”

There is no record of Double Standard drilling a successful oil well in a region famous worldwide for its discoveries, which began in 1911 in what today is part of the Mid-Continent field, extending from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas into parts of Louisiana and Missouri.

In North Texas, it was an April 1, 1911, oil gusher that brought prosperity – and hundreds of companies – to Electra, Texas. A well in nearby Eastland County struck oil in October 1917 brought even more.

The “Roaring Ranger” in Ranger reached a daily production of 1,700 barrels. Then, on July 28, 1918, a well in Burkburnett triggered another yet another drilling boom that brought still more companies.

Double Standard apparently arrived late to the scene of these giant discoveries. Historians note that because much of the surrounding land had been leased, many who rushed to Electra and Burkburnett seeking quick profits, just as quickly departed…or failed.

The company lost its right to do business in Texas in 1920 and left few records behind.

Electra will be named “Pump Jack Capital of Texas” by the Texas legislature in 2011, the centennial of the community’s  historic oil discover.

A 1940 Academy Award-winning movie starring Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable was based on the story of Burkburnett’s oilfield. Read “Boom Town” of Burkburnett.

The Double Standard Oil & Gas Company’s stock 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.

 

 Published in June 2013, Texas Oil and Gas, is part of Arcadia Publishing’s series of books featuring historic postcards. Using often rare postcards from the state's historic oilfields, author Jeff Spencer, a Houston geologist, conveys a lot of fascinating details through his carefully researched captions.

Published in 2013, Texas Oil and Gas, is part of Arcadia Publishing’s series of books featuring historic postcards. Using often rare postcards from the state’s historic oilfields, author Jeff Spencer, a Houston geologist, conveys a lot of fascinating details through his carefully researched captions.

For anyone interested in exploring petroleum history – or vintage postcards from Texas – one book combines both in an educational 128 pages.

The history of America’s oil and natural gas industry provides an important context for teaching young people the modern energy business. Arcadia Publishing’s Texas Oil and Gas by Jeff A. Spencer is a teaching resource that should be in many Texas high-school classrooms.

A geologist with Amromco Energy, Houston, Spencer has authored or co-authored more than 20 oilfield history papers. He has documented petroleum-related postcards from West Virginia, California, Ontario, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Texas.

A tenacious researcher and collector – the majority of the book’s more than 200 images are from the author’s private collection – Spencer acknowledges help received from Texas oil museums. 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.

 

During much of the 1920s, a Texas Ranger became well known for strictly enforcing the law in booming oilfield communities and on the border. By 1930, the discovery year of the great East Texas field, he was known as “El Lobo Solo” – the lone wolf – who would bring order to a boomtown famous worldwide.

Manuel Trazazas Gonzaullas was born in 1891 in Cádiz, Spain, to a Spanish father and Canadian mother who were naturalized U.S. citizens. At age 15 he witnessed the murder of his only two brothers and the wounding of his parents when bandits raided their home. Fourteen years later, he joined the Texas Rangers.

“Give Texas more Rangers of the caliber of ‘Lone Wolf’ Gonzaullas and the crime wave we are going through will not be of long duration,” reported the Dallas Morning News in 1934.

“He was a soft-spoken man and his trigger finger was slightly bent,” independent oilman Watson W. Wise characterized him during a 1985 interview in his office in Tyler, Texas. “He always told me it was geared to that .45 of his.”

When Kilgore became “the most lawless town in Texas” after the October 1930 oil boom started, Manuel “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas was the Texas Ranger sent out to tame it, according to Wise, himself a distinguished oilman and philanthropist who moved to Texas in 1925.

Gonzaullas – five feet, nine inches tall, with a scarred face, and no sense of humor – was “a very serious type fella,” Wise noted.

“He was sent out to Pecos one time to stop a riot out there, added Wise. “When he got off the train there was a great posse waiting to greet him, and when they saw he was alone, they said, ‘Where’s all your help Mr. Gonzaullas?’ and he said, ‘There’s only one riot isn’t there?’”

He rode a black stallion named Tony and often sported two pearl-handled, silver-mounted .45 pistols. On his chest was a shining Texas Ranger star. Everybody in Kilgore soon knew he was around. Read the rest of this entry »