This Week August 13 to August 19
August 13, 1962 – Norman Rockwell illustrates Petroleum Industry
The Oil and Gas Journal advertises with an illustration from artist Norman Rockwell captioned, “Where Oil Men Invest Their Valuable Reading Time.”
Beginning in 1916, Rockwell’s renditions of American life and family brought him widespread popularity through magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Boy’s Life, and Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly.
In addition to the Oil and Gas Journal illustration, Rockwell also provides the American Petroleum Institute with first day of issue artwork to commemorate the 1959 centennial of the birth of the nation’s oil industry: “Oil’s First Century 1859-1959.” The Rockwell illustration depicts “the men of science, the rugged extraction of the crude oil, and ending with your friendly service station attendant,” notes one collector.
August 15, 1945 – WW II Gasoline Rationing ends
World War II gasoline rationing ends in the United States one day after President Harry Truman announces the surrender of Japan. Since the beginning of rationing in December 1942, priority stickers and coupon books had been issued by the Office of Price Administration to conserve petroleum for the war effort.
Most civilian automobiles carried “A” stickers – limiting them to four gallons a week. Higher priority stickers were issued to emergency vehicles. A national speed limit of 35 mph was also imposed to further constrain consumption. In addition to gasoline and fuel oil, wartime rationing included tires, food, clothing, shoes, and coffee.
August 16, 1918 - American Oil fuels Victory
Despite heavy losses, American petroleum fuels the Allied war effort during World War I. On this day the British tanker Mirlo is sunk by German submarine U-117 off North Carolina – one of more than 1,000 Allied and neutral ships sunk in the final year of World War I alone.
“They have lately sunk so many fuel oil ships that this country may very soon be in a perilous condition,” warns Walter Page, U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau appeals to President Wilson: “Gasoline is as vital as blood in the coming battles.” When the armistice is signed in November 1918, Lord Curzon, a member of the British War Cabinet, declares, “the Allied cause floated to victory upon a wave of oil.”
August 16, 1927 – Aviation Gasoline powers Air Race across Pacific Ocean
It’s a foggy morning as eight airplanes prepare for takeoff before a crowd of 50,000 at the Oakland Airport in California. Aviation history is about to be made with a race across the Pacific, thanks to a revolutionary petroleum product – Phillips Nu-Aviation Gasoline.
Advanced engine and aircraft technologies are transforming the future of flying. Just three months after Charles Lindbergh’s famous transatlantic flight, the Dole Pineapple Company offers a $25,000 first prize for an air race of its own – from Oakland to Honolulu, Hawaii
Barnstormer and Hollywood stunt pilot Arthur Goebel Jr. finds a sponsor and friend in Frank Phillips, president of Phillips Petroleum Company of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
Now ConocoPhillips, the exploration, production and refining company is a pioneer in early in aviation fuel research. It already has developed high-gravity gasoline for some of the first U.S. mail-carrying airplanes after World War I. In fact, Phillips Petroleum produced aviation fuels before it produced automotive fuels.
But in 1927, aviation fuel technology is still in its infancy. A new Phillips Petroleum aviation fuel – Nu-Aviation Gasoline – is used for the planned 2,439-mile flight over the Pacific. The single-engine monoplane is christened Woolaroc, the name of Frank Phillips’ Bartlesville ranch – today a popular museum and wildlife preserve, where the plane is on display.
With the enthusiastic crowd of cheering them on, the eight competing aircraft take off from the muddy Oakland Airport field just after noon. Two of the fuel-heavy planes crash during takeoff and others soon return for repairs. Five aircraft eventually head out over the Pacific. Just two will make it to Hawaii. Read more in “Flight of the Woolaroc.”
August 17, 1785 – Reports confirm Oil on Pennsylvania Creek
“Oil Creek has taken its name from an oil or bituminous matter being found floating on its surface,” notes a report on Pennsylvania by Gen. William Irvine. “Many cures are attributed to this oil by the natives, and lately by some of the whites, particularly rheumatic pains and old ulcers.”
The 1785 report — 74 years before America’s first commercial oil well beside the same creek — follows one two years earlier by Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, who reported that Oil Creek, “empties itself into the Allegheny river, issuing from a spring, on the top of which floats an oil, similar to what is called Barbados tar, and from which may be collected by one man several gallons in a day.”
Once lined with wooden cable-tool derricks and crowded with barges, Oil Creek today attracts canoeists and trout fishermen –and a state park offers 7,000 acres for hiking, biking, cross-country and backpacking. The historic creek in “the valley that changed the world” also has a replica wooden derrick of the first U.S. commercial oil well at the Drake Well Museum in Titusville.
August 19, 1909 – Chemists produce Butter from Oil, Milk from Kerosene
As public sentiment turns against monopolies – and following journalist Ida Tarbell’s 1904 book, The History of the Standard Oil Company - the company becomes a target for humorists. “The Standard Oil Company has decided to drive the cow and the dairyman out of business,” declares a fanciful story from Jersey City, New Jersey.
“Its skilled chemists have discovered a process whereby they can make gilt-edge butter as a byproduct of crude petroleum,” notes a facetious story in the Stanstead Journal of Quebec, which also declares that “the chemists, in the steps leading up to the petroleum butter discovery, also have perfected a cheap process by which they can convert the kerosene into sweet milk.”
August 19, 1957 - First and Only Oil found in Washington State
The first and only commercial oil well in the state of Washington is discovered by the Sunshine Mining Company. The Medina No. 1 well flows 223 barrels a day from a depth of 4,135 feet near Ocean City in Gray Harbor County.
Although a well drilled six years earlier produced 35 barrels a day, the Tom Hawksworth-State well was deemed noncommercial and abandoned. The West Coast’s Medina No. 1 well will produce 12,500 barrels before being capped in 1961..
“About 600 gas and oil wells have been drilled in Washington, but large-scale commercial production has never occurred,” explains a 2010 report from the Washington Commissioner of Public Lands.
“The most recent production, which was from the Ocean City Gas and Oil Field west of Hoquiam, ceased in 1962, and no oil or gas have been produced since that time,” the commissioner adds, noting that some companies are exploring for coalbed methane in western Washington.
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