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January 20, 2021  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 2, No. 1


Oil & Gas History News


Welcome to our first newsletter of 2021 — and thank you for being a part of our growing community of oil patch historians, energy professionals, educators, and students. This month features many milestones, but few more important than the 100th anniversary of a gusher three miles south of Beaumont, Texas. The discovery at Spindletop Hill increased U.S. oil production just as gasoline demand began for automobiles.


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. 


January 18, 1919 – Congregation rejects drilling in Cemetery


Although World War I was over, oil production continued to soar in North Texas. Reporting on “Roaring Ranger” oilfields, the New York Times noted that speculators offered $1 million for rights to drill in the Merriman Baptist Church cemetery, but the congregation could not be persuaded to disturb the interred…MORE


January 11, 1926 – “Ace” Borger discovers Oil in North Texas


Thousands rushed to the Texas Panhandle seeking “black gold” after the Dixon Creek Oil and Refining Company completed its Smith No. 1 well, which flowed at 10,000 barrels a day in southern Hutchinson County. “Ace” Borger of Tulsa, Oklahoma, had leased a 240-acre tract and by September his Borger oilfield had more than 800 producing wells…MORE


January 4, 1948 – Benedum Field discovery Deep in Permian Basin


After years of frustration, exploration of the Permian Basin suddenly intensified again when a wildcat well found oil and natural gas in a deep geologic formation. The Slick-Urschel Oil Company drilled the well in partnership with geologist and independent producer Michael Late Benedum, who had discovered oilfields in Pennsylvania and West Virginia since the 1890s…MORE

December 28, 1898 – Mary Alford inherits Pennsylvania Nitro Factory


Byron S. Alford died, leaving his nitroglycerin factory to his wife Mary, who would make the business thrive, becoming “the only known woman to own a dynamite and nitroglycerin factory,” explained a 2017 Smithsonian article that credited an American Oil & Gas Historical Society story…MORE


December 21, 1842 – Birth of an Oil Town “Bird’s-Eye View” Artist


Panoramic map artist Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1842. Following the fortunes of America’s early petroleum industry, he would produce hundreds of unique maps of the earliest oilfield towns of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas…MORE


Featured Image

Spindletop gusher 1901 AOGHS

Captain Anthony F. Lucas stands beside his well (at right) after it struck oil at a depth of 1,139 feet and began flowing at an astounding 100,000 barrels per day. This iconic image at Spindletop was taken the afternoon of the discovery by photographer Francis (Frank) J. Trost (1868-1944).

On January 10, 1901, the “Lucas Gusher” at Spindletop Hill in southeastern Texas revealed an oilfield that would produce more oil in one day than the rest of the world’s oilfields combined. It was the most significant oil discovery from a salt dome structure along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Although the great Galveston hurricane of 1899 (still the deadliest in U.S. history) had brought much misery, this oil discovery launched the modern oil and gas industry as the 20th century dawned.


Energy Education Articles


Updated editorial content on the American Oil & Gas Historical Society website includes these articles:


Seeking to end dangerous and wasteful oil gushers, on January 12, 1926, James Abercrombie and Harry Cameron patented the hydraulic ram-type blowout preventer. Their concept used hydrostatic pistons to close on the drill stem and form a seal against the well pressure. Abercrombie had taken his idea to Cameron’s machine shop in Humble, Texas, where the two men sketched out details on the sawdust floor. Learn more in Ending Oil Gushers – BOP.

In early January 1957, an exploratory well drilled on and off for almost two years revealed a giant oilfield in southern Michigan. The discovery at “Rattlesnake Gulch” on Ferne Houseknecht’s dairy farm discovered a prolific petroleum basin that extended 29 miles. Learn more in Michigan’s Golden Gulch of Oil.



Please share this newsletter’s articles — and consider adding a link from your website to ours. It makes a real difference promoting AOGHS articles. Your supporting membership also helps expand the society’s energy education outreach. Even the smallest donation can keep our unique oil history website up and running in 2021.


— Bruce Wells


“Any survey of the natural resources used as sources of energy must include a discussion about the importance of oil, the lifeblood of all industrialized nations.” — Daniel Yergin, bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize

© American Oil & Gas Historical Society, 3204 18th Street NW, No. 3, Washington, District of Columbia 20010, United States, (202) 387-6996

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