April 21, 2021 – Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 2, No. 4
Oil & Gas History News
Welcome to our April newsletter featuring inventors and exploration pioneers, including a prospector who discovered the Los Angeles oilfield in 1892 near present-day Dodgers Stadium. Pennsylvania’s extensive petroleum heritage also is noted, along with how Texaco got its start, and news from community oil and gas museums — frontline energy educators.
This Week in Petroleum History Monthly Update
Links to summaries from five weeks of U.S. oil and natural gas history, including new technologies, oilfield discoveries, petroleum products, and pioneers.
April 19, 1892 – First U.S. Gasoline Powered Auto
Brothers Charles and Frank Duryea test drove the gasoline powered automobile they had built in their Springfield, Massachusetts, workshop. Considered the first car model to be regularly manufactured for sale in the United States, 12 were produced by the Duryea Motor Wagon Company…MORE
April 13, 1974 – Depth Record set in Oklahoma
After drilling for 504 days and costing $7 million, the Bertha Rogers No. 1 well reached a total depth of about 5.95 miles before being stopped by liquid sulfur. Drilled in the heart of Oklahoma’s Anadarko Basin, it was the world’s deepest well…MORE
April 5, 1860 – Early Success for New Oil Industry
After drilling more than twice as deep as the first commercial U.S. oil well, the Phillips, Frew & Company found another Pennsylvania oil-producing sand formation at a depth of 197 feet. The new exploration company discovered the oilfield along the Allegheny River at Oil City…MORE
March 29, 1819 – Birthday of Father of American Petroleum Industry
Edwin Laurentine Drake was born in Greenville, New York. Forty years later, he would use a steam-powered cable-tool rig to drill America’s first oil well at Titusville, Pennsylvania. The former railroad conductor overcame many technical challenges of “Drake’s Folly” and was the first to use iron pipe casing…MORE
March 23, 1858 – Seneca Oil replaces Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company
Investors organized the Seneca Oil Company of New Haven, Connecticut, after purchasing the Titusville leases of the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, the first U.S. oil company founded four years earlier by George Bissell. Seeking oil for refining into kerosene lamp fuel, Seneca Oil Company hired Edwin L. Drake to drill a well along Oil Creek, where Bissell had found oil seeps…MORE
“View of oil derricks surrounding houses, two men walking down the street,” Los Angeles City oilfield,1890 photo detail courtesy California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento.
Prospector discovers Los Angeles City Oilfield
When struggling prospector Edward Doheny and his mining partner Charles Canfield decided to search for oil, they chose a site in Los Angeles already known for its “tar” pools that bubbled to the surface. Doheny had noticed a cart with bitumen on its wheels. On April 20, 1892, their well revealed the Los Angeles City field. Learn more in Discovering Los Angeles Oilfields.
The Texas Company founded during Spindletop Boom
Joseph “Buckskin Joe” Cullinan and Arnold Schlaet on April 7, 1902, established The Texas Company in Beaumont to transport and refine oil. The next year, company driller Walter Sharp discovered an oilfield at the spa town of Sour Lake Springs. Learn more in Sour Lake produces Texaco.
Oil & Gas Museums
Many community museums are beginning to reopen, including the Drake Well Museum in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and the Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas. If you have vaccinated travel plans, support energy education by visiting them and the many other oil and gas museums.
The Luling Oil Museum in Texas has reopened in its recently restored downtown 1885 mercantile building. Exhibits include drilling and production equipment from the 1920s Luling oilfield. The museum also educates visitors about the modern industry. It gives no credence to the once widely told tale of the Luling field being discovered thanks to a “reading” by a famous psychic. Learn more in Luling Oil Museum and Crudoleum.
School groups will be returning to the Olinda Oil Museum & Trail outside Brea, California, according to volunteer docent Chris Farren, who adds that the museum now has a 1910 oil worker’s cottage. He is a sixth generation member of an oil worker family originally from Oil City, Pennsylvania. Farren joined the American Oil & Gas Historical Society, “because I have the same mission and interests.”
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— Bruce Wells