This Week in Petroleum History, May 9 – 15
May 9, 1863 – Confederate Cavalry raids Oilfield
A brigade of Confederate cavalry attacks an oil town near the Ohio River in what will soon become West Virginia, destroying equipment and thousands of barrels of oil.
The Burning Springs oilfield is attacked by Confederate cavalry led by Gen. William “Grumble” Jones. The attack along the Kanawha River marks the first time an oilfield is targeted in war, according to West Virginia historian David McKain.
About 1,300 Confederate troopers attack Burning Springs, destroying cable-tool drilling rigs and 150,000 barrels of oil. In his report to Gen. Robert E. Lee, Gen. Jones notes, “all the oil, the tanks, barrels, engines for pumping, engine-houses, and wagons – in a word, everything used for raising, holding, or sending it off was burned.”
According to McKain, who founded an Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg, the wealth created by the region’s petroleum industry will help bring statehood for West Virginia in June 1863. Almost a century earlier, George Washington had acquired 250 acres in the region because it contained oil and natural gas seeps. Read more in Confederates attack Oilfield.
May 12, 2007 – ConocoPhillips opens Two Oklahoma Oil Museums
Two petroleum museums funded by ConocoPhillips open in Oklahoma as part of the state’s 2007 statehood centennial celebrations.
In Ponca City, the Conoco Museum educates visitors about the exploration and production history of the company, which was founded in 1875 in Utah as the Continental Oil and Transportation Company. Exhibits tell the story of the company’s development from a small distributor of coal, grease and kerosene serving 19th century pioneers into a global energy company.
Conoco merged with Oklahoma’s Marland Oil Company in 1929. Phillips Petroleum incorporated in 1917 and merged with Conoco in August 2002.
The museum also 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. Read more in Oklahoma’s Conoco & Phillips Petroleum Museums.
May 14, 1953 – Golder Driller welcomes Visitors to Petroleum Expo
The “Golden Driller” first appears at the International Petroleum Exposition in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 14, 1953.
Sponsored by the Mid-Continent Supply Company of Fort Worth, Texas, the giant is temporarily erected again for the 1959 petroleum expo.
The big roughneck attracts so much attention that the company refurbishes and donates it to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds Trust Authority. The giant is rebuilt in 1966.
Today, fully refurbished in the late 1970s, the Golden Driller – by now a 76-foot tall, 43,500 pound leading tourist attraction – is the largest freestanding statue in the world, according to city officials. Read 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 opens May 14, 2004, 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.
Read 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 issues the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority opinion that mandates dissolution of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey.
The historic ruling, which will break Standard Oil into 34 separate companies, upholds an earlier Circuit Court decision that the John D. Rockefeller company’s practices violated the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Standard Oil is given six months to spin off its subsidiaries. Five years earlier, President Theodore Roosevelt’s Justice Department launched 44 new anti-trust suits, prosecuting railroad, beef, tobacco, and other trusts.
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