This Week in Petroleum History, May 8 – May14
May 8, 1918 – Shreveport Gassers go Extra Innings
As baseball became America’s favorite pastime, the Texas League’s Shreveport Gassers played 20 innings against the Fort Worth Panthers before the game was declared a tie. The Gassers were one of several oilfield-related teams in the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (today known as Minor League Baseball). At the time, the leagues’ 96 teams included the Okmulgee Drillers, the Tulsa Oilers, the Independence Producers, the Beaumont Exporters, the Corsicana Oil Citys, the Wichita Falls Spudders, and the Iola Gasbags. Learn more in Oilfields of Dreams.
May 8, 1920 – Burbank Oilfield discovered in Oklahoma
Drilling for natural gas on an lease 20 miles from Ponca City, Oklahoma, the Kay County Gas Company found oil instead. Partner Marland Refining Company assumed control of the Bertha Hickman No. 1 well, which opened the 20,000-acre Burbank oilfield. With the region already booming since the Red Fork Gusher of 1901, producers agree to drill using 10-acre spacing for oil conservation purposes. The Burbank field produced up to 31 million barrels of oil annually for the next four years.
May 9, 1863 – Confederate Cavalry raids Oilfield
A brigade of Confederate cavalry attacked a thriving oil town near the Ohio River in what would soon become West Virginia. The raid destroyed equipment and thousands of barrels of oil.
The Burning Springs oilfield was attacked by Confederate cavalry led by Gen. William “Grumble” Jones. His attack along the Kanawha River marked the first time an oilfield was targeted in war, according to one West Virginia historian. About 1,300 Confederate troopers raided Burning Springs, destroying cable-tool drilling rigs and 150,000 barrels of oil.
The wealth created by the region’s petroleum industry helped bring statehood for West Virginia in June 1863. Almost a century earlier, George Washington had acquired 250 acres in the region because it contained natural oil seeps. Learn more in Confederates attack Oilfield.
May 12, 2007 – ConocoPhillips opens Two Oklahoma Oil Museums
The Oklahoma’s Conoco and Phillips Petroleum Museums opened in Oklahoma as part of the state’s 2007 statehood centennial celebrations.
The Conoco Museum In Ponca City today educates visitors about the exploration and production history of the company, which began in Utah as a small distributor of coal, grease, and kerosene. Conoco merged with Oklahoma’s Marland Oil Company in 1929. Phillips Petroleum incorporated in 1917 and merged with Conoco in 2002.
The Phillips Petroleum Company Museum in Bartlesville includes exhibits describing the development of high-octane gasoline and revolutionary plastic products like Marlex (learn more in Petroleum Product Hoopla). The museum tells the stories of brothers Frank and L.E. Phillips. Beginning in 1905, they drilled 81 wells without a single “dry hole.” Frank Phillips served as president of the company until 1938.
May 14, 1953 – Golden Driller welcomes Visitors to Petroleum Expo
The “Golden Driller” first appeared at the International Petroleum Exposition in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Sponsored by the Mid-Continent Supply Company of Fort Worth, Texas, the giant was temporarily erected again for the 1959 petroleum expo.
The big roughneck attracted so much attention that the company refurbished and donated it to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds Trust Authority. The giant was rebuilt in 1966.
Today, fully refurbished in the late 1970s, the Golden Driller – now a 76-foot tall, 43,500 pound leading tourist attraction – is the largest freestanding statue in the world, according to city officials. Learn more in Golden Driller of Tulsa.
May 14, 2004 – Petroleum Museum Opens in Oil City, Louisiana
The first public museum in Louisiana dedicated to the oil and gas industry opened in Oil City, 30 miles northwest of Shreveport.
The Louisiana State Oil and Gas Museum, originally the Caddo-Pine Island Oil and Historical Museum, includes the historic depot of the Kansas City Southern Railroad.
The museum preserves the many Caddo Parish discoveries, which began in 1905, and the economic prosperity brought by the North Louisiana petroleum boom.
The museum documents the technology behind a 1911 well – the Ferry No. 1 – one of the nation’s earliest “offshore” oil wells It was completed on Caddo Lake, where production continues today. Learn more about the Louisiana Oil City Museum.
May 15, 1911 – Supreme Court orders Standard Oil Breakup
After reviewing 12,000 pages of court documents, Chief Justice Edward White issued the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority opinion that mandated dissolution of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey.
The historic ruling, which broke Standard Oil into 34 separate companies, upheld an earlier Circuit Court decision that the John D. Rockefeller company’s practices violated the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Standard Oil was given six months to spin off its subsidiaries. Five years earlier, President Theodore Roosevelt’s Justice Department had launched 44 anti-trust suits against railroad, beef, tobacco, and other trusts.
Listen online to Remember When Wednesdays on the weekday morning radio show Exploring Energy from 9:05 a.m to 10 a.m. (Eastern Time). Executive Director Bruce Wells calls in on the last Wednesday of each month. AOGHS welcomes sponsors to help maintain this website and preserve U.S. petroleum heritage. Please support our energy education mission with a tax-deductible donation today. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on levels and types of available sponsorships. © 2017 Bruce A. Wells.