- This Week in Petroleum History, November 24 to November 30
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 forms the Continental Oil and Transportation Company. He will soon bring Ohio kerosene to Ogden, Utah, for distribution.
Continental purchases two railroad tank cars – the first to be used west of the Mississippi River – and begins shipping kerosene from a Cleveland refinery. The company quickly grows, expanding into Colorado in 1876 and California in 1877.
Standard Oil Company absorbs Continental Oil in 1885. Following the 1911 breakup of Standard, Continental Oil will reemerge and continues today as ConocoPhillips. Read more in ConocoPhillips Petroleum Museums.
November 27, 1940 – Gas by Edward Hopper exhibited in New York
Edward Hopper’s painting Gas is exhibited by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in 1940.
Hopper began the painting a month earlier. “Ed is about to start a canvas – an effect of night on a gasoline station,” noted his wife.
Critics praise Hopper’s work and suggest that Gas with its commonplace Mobilgas sign anticipates America’s Pop Art movement that comes a decade later.
The work – which includes the flying Pegasus logo of Mobilgas – is an amalgamation of gas stations around his home in Truro, Massachusetts. Fellow artist Charles Burchfield admired Hopper’s simple title for the painting, noting that a less discerning artist would have titled it “Gas Station” or “Gas Station Attendant.”
The Vacuum Oil Company trademarked the Pegasus logo in 1911 and by the 1930s was marketing Pegasus Motor Spirits an Mobiloil. Read about the Mobilgas iconic logo in Mobil’s High Flying Trademark.
November 27, 1941 – “Oil Queen of California” dies
Mrs. Emma Summers, once known as the “Oil Queen of California” dies 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 oil wells came in as producers – and launched her dominance in the Los Angeles oil field. See Oil Queen of California.
November 28, 1892 – First Kansas Oil Well taps Mid-Continent Field
The Norman No. 1 well erupts in 1892 in eastern Kansas – the first major oil well west of the Mississippi River.
Just 832 feet deep, the well reveals the vast Mid-Continent producing region, which includes five states.
Immediately following the discovery, a sample of the oil is sent to the more experienced oilmen of Pennsylvania.
“It proved that Neodesha had the riches of oil and gas in their back yard, making the area the richest bed of prehistoric decay,” explains Neodesha’s oil museum.
The museums, built in a city park at the drilling site, includes a replica wooden cable-tool derrick – “a fitting recognition of Norman No. 1’s importance as one of the most significant oil discoveries in U. S. and Kansas history,” concludes the Kansas Historical Society. Read more in Kansas Well reveals Mid-Continent.
November 28, 1895 – America’s First Automobile Race
“At 8:55 a.m. on November 28, 1895, six motor cars left Chicago’s Jackson Park for a 54 mile race to Evanston, Illinois, and back through the snow,” notes the Library of Congress.
Inventor J. Frank Duryea will receive $2,000 for winning America’s first auto race. His No. 5 takes just over 10 hours at an average speed of about 7.3 miles per hour.
The Chicago Times-Herald, sponsor of the race, awards $500 to a racing enthusiast who names the horseless vehicles “motocycles.”
The newspaper declares, “Persons who are inclined to decry the development of the horseless carriage will be forced to recognize it as an admitted mechanical achievement, highly adapted to some of the most urgent needs of our civilization.” Also see Cantankerous Combustion – 1st U.S. Auto Show.
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