This Week in Petroleum History, November 21 to November 27
November 21, 1925 – Magnolia Petroleum incorporates
Formerly an unincorporated joint-stock association with roots dating to a 1889 refinery in Corsicana, Texas – Magnolia Petroleum Company incorporated in 1925.
The original association had sold multiple grades of refined petroleum products through more than 500 service stations in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Within a month of the new company’s founding, Standard Oil Company of New York purchased most of Magnolia Petroleum’s assets (December 1925) and operated it as a subsidiary.
Magnolia Oil Company merged with Socony Mobile Oil Company in 1959. The companies adopted a red Pegasus logo, which replaced the magnolia logo at gas stations (see Mobil’s High-Flying Trademark). Magnolia Petroleum ultimately became part of ExxonMobil.
November 22, 1905 – Discovery brings Oil Boom to Tulsa
Two years before Oklahoma became a state, a major oilfield was revealed just south of Tulsa. The 1905 Glen Pool (or Glenn Pool) discovery, the greatest oilfield in America at the time, would help contribute to Tulsa becoming known as the “Oil Capital of the World.”
With daily production soon exceeding 120,000 barrels, Glen Pool exceeded Tulsa County’s earlier Red Fork Gusher. The find even exceeded the giant Spindletop Hill discovery near Beaumont, Texas, four years earlier.
The Ida Glenn No. 1 well was named for the Creek Indian woman from whom oilmen had leased 160 acres. The well, almost 1,500 feet deep, led to many more prolific wells in the 12-square-mile Glen Pool.
By the time of statehood in 1907, Tulsa area oilfields made Oklahoma America’s biggest petroleum producing state. The field today uses enhanced recovery technologies to continue production. In April 2008, a special derrick monument was unveiled in Black Gold Park.
The community of Glenn Pool annually celebrates its petroleum heritage by hosting a Black Gold Days festival. Learn more in Making Tulsa the Oil Capital.
November 22, 2003 – Smithsonian Museum opens Transportation Hall
The “America On The Move” permanent exhibition opened at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
“Get your kicks on 40 feet of Route 66,” the Smithsonian exhibit noted on opening day of the $22 million renovation of the museum’s Hall of Transportation. A 199-ton locomotive also welcomes visitors to the hall.
The “America on the Move” hall was designed to let visitors “travel back in time and experience transportation as it changed America,” explains the Smithsonian. “It encompasses nearly 26,000 square feet on the first floor of the museum, and includes 340 objects and 19 historic settings in chronological order.”
At the same museum in 1967, the Smithsonian’s “Hall of Petroleum” devoted an entire wing to drilling rigs, pipelines and pump jacks.
November 23, 1951 – First Superman Movie features “World’s Deepest Oil Well”
Public fear of the risk of drilling too deep highlighted the theatrical release of “Superman and the Mole Men.”
The 1951 movie, which earned good reviews, featured newspaper reporters Clark Kent (George Reeves) and Lois Lane (Phyllis Coates) traveling on assignment to the fictional town of Silsby…“Home of the World’s Deepest Oil Well.”
At the National Oil Company’s “Havenhurst Experimental Number One” well, the drill bit “has broken into clear air” 32,742 feet deep. “Good heavens, that’s practically to the center of the earth!” Lois exclaims. In fact, the deepest U.S. well in 1951 reached 20,521 feet.
When small, humanoid creatures emerged from the well, the townspeople feared an invasion. It took the compassion of Superman to calm the mob and return the mole men to the safety of the deep well. At the end of the movie, the mole men ignited the well, forever closing the connection between the two worlds. Learn about a real 31,441-foot-deep well in Anadarko Basin in Depth.
November 23, 1953 – World’s First LPG Ship
The first seagoing Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) ship went into service in 1953.
Warren Petroleum Corporation of Tulsa, Oklahoma, sent the one-of-a-kind Natalie O. Warren from the Houston Ship Channel terminal to Newark, New Jersey.
The vessel had an LPG capacity of 38,053 barrels in 68 vertical pressure tanks. The ship was the former Cape Diamond dry-cargo freighter, converted by the Bethlehem Steelyard in Beaumont, Texas. The experimental design would lead to new maritime construction standards for such vessels. Today’s LPG tankers carry more than 18 times the capacity of the historic first vessel.
November 25, 1875 – Continental Oil brings Kerosene to the West
Convinced that he can profit by purchasing bulk kerosene in cheaper eastern markets, Isaac Blake formed the Continental Oil and Transportation Company. He soon transported Ohio kerosene to Ogden, Utah, for distribution.
Continental purchased two railroad tank cars – the first to be used west of the Mississippi River – and began shipping kerosene from a Cleveland refinery. The company grew, expanding into Colorado in 1876 and California in 1877.
Standard Oil Company absorbed Continental Oil in 1885. Following the 1911 breakup of Standard, Continental Oil reemerged as Conoco; it became ConocoPhillips in 2002. Learn more by visiting ConocoPhillips Petroleum Museums.
November 27, 1941 – “Oil Queen of California” dies
Mrs. Emma Summers, once known as the “Oil Queen of California” died at the age of 83 in Los Angeles.
Forty years earlier, the San Francisco Call newspaper described Mrs. Summers as “A woman with a genius for affairs – it may sound paradoxical, but the fact exists. If Mrs. Emma A. Summers were less than a genius she could not, as she does today, control the Los Angeles oil markets.”
Summers graduated from Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music and moved to Los Angeles in 1893 to teach piano – but soon caught oil fever.
With her home not far from where Edward Doheny had discovered the Los Angeles City field just a year before, Summers invested $700 for half interest in a well just a few blocks from Doheny’s. Summers’ first 14 wells produced oil – helping launch her dominance in the Los Angeles oilfield.
Read more about Emma Summers in Oil Queen of California.
Listen online to “Remember When Wednesdays” on the weekday morning radio program Exploring Energy, 9 a.m to 10 a.m. (Eastern Time). Bruce Wells calls in on the last Wednesday of every month. Please support the American Oil & Gas Historical Society today with a tax-deductible donation. © This Week in Petroleum History, AOGHS 2016.