This Week Oct. 1 to Oct. 7
October 1, 1908 – Ford produces First Model T
The first production Model T Ford rolls off the assembly line at the company’s plant in Detroit.
Between 1908 and 1927, Ford will build about 15 million Model T cars – fueled by inexpensive gasoline. It is great timing for the petroleum industry, which has seen demand for kerosene for lamps drop because of electric lighting.
New oil field discoveries, including a 1901 massive find near Beaumont, Texas, will meet new demand for what had been a refining byproduct: gasoline. Visit the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum and the Texas Energy Museum in Beaumont.
October 1, 1942 – Conservation Project begins in East Texas
The East Texas Salt Water Disposal Company drills its first salt water injection well in the East Texas oil field near the communities of Tyler, Longview and Kilgore.
As early as 1929 the Federal Bureau of Mines had determined that injecting recovered saltwater into formations could increase reservoir pressures and oil production.
The Texas Railroad Commission creates the East Texas Salt Water Disposal Company as a public utility – and encourages participation by selling shares to petroleum companies operating in the historic oil field.
In its first 13 years, the company gathers, treats, and re-injects about 1.5 billion barrels of saltwater, prompting the commission to proclaim saltwater injection as the greatest oil conservation project in history. Increased production from the East Texas field is estimated at 600 million barrels of oil.
October 2, 1919 – Future “Mr. Tulsa” incorporates Skelly Oil Company
Skelly Oil Company incorporates in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with founder William Grove Skelly as president.
The company is built upon Skelly’s success in the El Dorado oil field east of Wichita, Kansas, and earlier ventures, including the Skelly-Sankey Oil Corporation (1916) and Midland Refining Company (1917). Skelly was born in 1878 in Erie, Pennsylvania – where his father hauled oil field supplies in a horse-drawn wagon.
Skelly Oil becomes one of the Mid-Continent’s most successful independents – producing almost nine million barrels of oil in 1929. As Tulsa becomes known as the “Oil Capital of the World,” Skelly is known as “Mr. Tulsa.” He becomes a leading philanthropic sponsor of civic, educational, and charitable causes – and serves as president of Tulsa’s famous International Petroleum Exposition for 32 years until his death on April 11, 1957.
October 3, 1930 – Discovery of the Giant East Texas Oil Field
With a crowd of more than 4,000 landowners, leaseholders, stockholders, creditors and spectators watching, Daisy Bradford No. 3 comes in as a gusher near Kilgore, Texas.
Two months later, another wildcat well will strike oil about 10 miles to the north. A third well even farther north brings another large oil discovery. At first, the great distance between the three wells suggests they are separate fields.
Petroleum geologists are stunned when it becomes apparent these East Texas discoveries are from the same oil-producing formation (the Woodbine) that encompasses 140,000 acres – even today the largest in the lower 48 states.
“All of East Texas waited expectantly while Columbus ‘Dad’ Joiner inched his way toward oil,” notes Jack Elder in his book, The Glory Days. “Thousands crowded their way to the site of Daisy Bradford No. 3, hoping to be there when and if oil gushed from the well to wash away the misery of the Great Depression.”
When Daisy Bradford No. 3 came in, the thousands of spectators who cheered madly celebrated their newfound fortunes, and congratulated Joiner, the independent oilman who overcame many obstacles – and dry holes – to finally succeed.
Recognizing the significance of the first discovery before the rest of the industry, another oilman, H. L. Hunt, purchases the Daisy Bradford No. 3 well and nearby leases from Joiner. By the summer of 1931 about 900,000 barrels of oil per day are being produced from 1,200 wells. The oilfield provides the financial base for the founding of Hunt Oil Company in 1934.
The East Texas field remains the most prolific oil reservoir ever discovered in the contiguous United States. The “Black Giant” has yielded more than five billion barrels – and is still producing.
October 3, 1980 – Oil Museum opens in Kilgore, Texas
Fifty years after the discovery of the East Texas oil field, the East Texas Oil Museum opens in Kilgore – “a tribute to the independent oil producers and wildcatters, the men and women who dared to dream as they pursued the fruits of free enterprise, notes Joe White, founding director.
Established with funding from the Hunt Oil Company, the museum at Kilgore College houses recreations of the boomtown atmosphere of the early 1930s in the largest oil field inside the United States.
“Here are the people, their towns, their personal habits, their tools and their pastimes, all colorfully depicted in dioramas, movies, sound presentations and actual antiques donated by East Texas citizens,” says White. The early discoveries created new towns, new ways of living, and a livelihood for thousands of East Texas citizens.
One downtown block in Kilgore, the “World’s Richest Acre Park,” once contained the greatest concentration of oil wells in the world – producing more than 2.5 million barrels of oil.
The oil museum in Kilgore, as well as ones in Beaumont and Galveston (and the region’s modern petroleum story) are featured in an educational booklet, American Oil & Gas Families, East Texas Independents, published by the American Oil & Gas Historical Society in 2004.
October 4, 1917 – Early California Oil Field
The Montebello field in the Baldwin Hills of Southern California is discovered when Standard Oil of California’s Baldwin No. 3 oil well comes in with a flow of 7,500 barrels per day from an oil-rich sand at 3,755 feet. It will become one of the Los Angeles County’s top 10 and longest producing fields with 106 wells still producing 648,000 barrels of oil in 2008.
October 6, 1915 – Kansas Oil Field brings in Mid-Continent Production
Cities Service Company drilling contractors Golden and Obins bring in the Stapleton No. 1 – discovery well for the 34-square-mile El Dorado oil field east of Wichita, Kansas.
Using scientific geological survey methodology for the first time, Cities Service had identified a promising anticline and leased 30,000 acres near the town of El Dorado in Butler County.
The Stapleton well’s first show of oil was at about 600 foot depth, but drilling continued to 2,500 feet into a pay zone yielding 175 barrels a day, prompting Gulf Oil, Standard Oil, and other companies to secure leases.
When the United States enters World War I, development of the field escalates and in 1918, the El Dorado oil field produces almost 29 million barrels of oil.
The Stapleton No. 1 well, which produces until 1967, today is visited by tourists – as is the Kansas Oil Museum. The Butler County History Center’s oil museum in El Dorado includes 20 acres of oil industry equipment exhibits, models of the region’s refinery history, and a recreated 1920s oil boom town’s main street.
October 7, 1929 – Teapot Dome Bribe brings Jail Time
Secretary of Interior Albert B. Fall, begins serving a one-year sentence in New Mexico’s Santa Fe Penitentiary for taking a $100,000 bribe in the Teapot Dome scandal.
Almost 30,000 acres of public lands in Natrona County, Wyoming, had been established as a Naval Petroleum Reserve by President William Taft in 1910; in May 1921, President Warren G. Harding’s executive order gave Fall complete control of all Naval Reserves.
In 1922, without competitive bidding, Fall leased Teapot Dome fields to Harry Sinclair of Sinclair Oil Company and Elk Hills, California, fields to Edward Doheny. In subsequent Senate hearings, it emerged that cash was delivered to Fall in his apartment at the Wardman Park Hotel in Washington. Fall was convicted for taking a bribe; Sinclair and Doheny were acquitted.
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