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June 16, 2021  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 2, No. 6

Oil & Gas History News

As a long-awaited summer arrives, community museums can look forward to to welcoming tourists and other visitors. Thanks to our subscribers and supporting members, the American Oil & Gas Historical Society has built a network of these dedicated energy educators. There is museum news among our June newsletter’s stories. These stories include early oilfield publications, technology milestones, and an 1894 unexpected oil discovery in Corsicana, Texas.

This Week in Petroleum History Monthly Update

Links to summaries from four weeks of U.S. oil and natural gas history, including new technologies, oilfield discoveries, petroleum products, and pioneers.

June 14, 1865 – First Edition of Pennsylvania Oil Region Newspaper

The hometown of the first American oil well got its first newspaper when brothers William and Henry Bloss published a four-page broadsheet, the Titusville Morning Herald. Initial circulation was 300 for the new daily, which is still published today. The first edition’s articles included a brief reference to the oil interests of John Wilkes Booth, who visited the region in 1864…MORE

June 9, 1894 – Water Well finds Oil in Corsicana 

A contractor hired by the town of Corsicana to drill a water well found oil instead, launching the Texas petroleum industry seven years before the more famous discovery at Spindletop Hill. Despite the discovery bringing petroleum riches to Corsicana, the city paid the contractor only half of his $1,000 fee; the agreement had been for completing a water well…MORE

June 1, 1860 – First Book about Oil published

Less than 10 months after Edwin L. Drake completed the first commercial oil well at Titusville, Pennsylvania, Thomas A. Gale published an 80-page pamphlet many regard as the first book about America’s petroleum resources. The Wonder of the Nineteenth Century: Rock Oil in Pennsylvania and Elsewhere described the advantages of the new fuel source for kerosene lamps…MORE

May 24, 1902 – Earliest Oil & Gas Journal published

Holland Reavis founded the Oil Investors’ Journal in Beaumont, Texas, with articles focusing on financial issues in the giant oilfield discovered a year before at Spindletop Hill. In 1910, Patrick Boyle acquired the publication, changed it to a weekly, and expanded coverage to become the Oil & Gas Journal…MORE

Energy Education


In 1954, a revolutionary offshore oil drilling platform went to work for Shell Oil Company in the East Bay oilfield, near the mouth of the Mississippi River. When Mr. Charlie left its New Orleans shipyard on June 15, it became the world’s first mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU). Photo courtesy Murphy Oil Corporation.

First Mobile Offshore Drilling Rig

Capable of drilling wells in water up to 40 feet deep, Mr. Charlie’s mobile design originated with Alden “Doc” LaBorde, a World War II Navy veteran and Kerr-McGee Company marine superintendent. In 1954, Murphy Oil adopted his design as an alternative to permanent, pile-supported drilling platforms tendered by utility boats. Recognized as a historical mechanical engineering landmark in 2012, Mr. Charlie today operates as the International Petroleum Museum and Exposition in Morgan City. Learn more in Mr. Charlie, First Mobile Offshore Drilling Rig.

Oil & Gas Museums

In addition to the International Petroleum Museum and Exposition — and the popular Galveston, Texas-based Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum — oil and gas museums are reopening across the country.

If you are looking for a unique venue to host upcoming  events or meetings, check with your local museum! Beyond its outstanding Permian Basin exhibits, the Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas, offers unique indoor and outdoor spaces for any kind of gathering.

The Penn Brad Oil Museum in northwestern Pennsylvania’s scenic McKean County, “preserves the philosophy and spirit of a historic oil community” and the world’s first billion dollar oilfield. By 1881, oil from the region’s Devonian Bradford Sands accounted for 83 percent of all U.S. production.

Oilfield exhibits can be seen at a museum in Columbia, Texas, the capital of the Republic of Texas from 1836 to 1837. Now known as West Columbia, this community southwest of Houston is home to the Columbia Historical Museum, which opened in 1990. Brazoria County’s many historic oilfield discoveries include the West Columbia field, revealed in 1917 by former Texas Gov. James Hogg.

Finally, after a summer of educational visits to museums, consider joining the American Oil & Gas Historical Society in attending the fall 2021 Annual Symposium and Field Trip of the Petroleum History Institute, September 28 to October 1, in Pittsburgh.

Help AOGHS continue its preservation advocacy work on behalf of community oil and gas museums. Share this monthly newsletter and our latest outreach efforts. Among many projects, the historical society is supporting a 2021 effort  by the International Petroleum Museum and Exposition in receiving National Historic Landmark designation for Mr. Charlie.

— Bruce Wells

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

“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

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