May 20, 2020  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 1, No. 5

Oil & Gas History News


Welcome to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society summary of U.S. petroleum milestones, including links to some events that have shaped the energy industry. Understanding history remains as important as ever, and This Week in Petroleum History may help with distant learning during the health and economic crisis. Please share this newsletter and support energy education!


Monthly Highlights from “This Week in Petroleum History”

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

May 19, 1885 – Lima Oilfield discovery in Northwestern Ohio

The “Great Oil Boom” of northwestern Ohio began when local businessman Benjamin Faurot – drilling for natural gas – found oil instead in the Trenton Limestone formation. “The oil find has caused much excitement and those who are working at the well have been compelled to build a high fence around it to keep curiosity seekers from bothering them.”…

May 14, 1953 – Golden Driller debuts at Petroleum Expo

As the mid-continent oil industry grew, the “Golden Driller” statue first appeared climbing a derrick at the International Petroleum Exposition in Tulsa. Temporarily erected again by Mid-Continent Supply Company for the 1959 petroleum expo, the giant roughneck attracted so much attention the company donated it to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds. Today’s 76-foot, mustard-shade statue was rebuilt in 1966…

May 9, 1863 – Confederate Cavalry raids Oilfield

Confederate cavalry attacked a thriving oil town in what would soon become West Virginia. Gen. William “Grumble” Jones led the attack on Burning Springs along the Kanawha River, destroying equipment and thousands of barrels of oil. This marked the first time an oilfield was targeted in war, according to a West Virginia historian…

April 30, 1929 – Marland Oil and Continental Oil become Conoco

After discovering several Oklahoma oilfields, Marland Oil Company acquired Continental Oil to create a network of Conoco service stations in 30 states. Future Oklahoma Governor Ernest W. Marland had founded Marland Oil in 1921. Headquartered in Ponca City, the new company adopted the name of Continental Oil, but kept the Marland Oil red triangle. Continental Oil Company had begun in 1875 by delivering kerosene to retail stores in Ogden, Utah…

April 20, 1892 – Prospector finds Los Angeles Oilfield

The Los Angeles oilfield was discovered when a struggling prospector, Edward Doheny, and his mining partner Charles Canfield drilled into natural oil seeps between today’s Beverly Boulevard and Colton Avenue. Their well produced about 45 barrels of oil a day. Often camouflaged, oil production continues in downtown L.A…


Energy Education Articles

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

The first pitcher inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (1936) worked in California oilfields as a teenager and began his career playing on an oil town baseball team. As baseball became America’s favorite pastime in the early 20th century, new petroleum boom towns fielded teams – with names that reflected their communities’ enthusiasm and livelihood. See Oilfields of Dreams – Gassers, Oilers, and Drillers Baseball.

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Civil War veteran Col. Edward A.L. Roberts of New York City received the first of his many patents for an “Improvement in Exploding Torpedoes in Artesian Wells.” The invention used controlled down-hole explosions “to fracture oil-bearing formations and increase oil production.” The Roberts Torpedo would lead the evolution of technologies for fracturing geologic formations to increase oil and natural gas production. See Shooters – A “Fracking” History.


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The first U.S. patent for an offshore oil drilling rig was issued to Thomas Rowland of Greenpoint, New York, for his “submarine drilling apparatus.” Rowland designed a fixed, working platform with four telescoping legs that many experts believe inspired offshore technologies used today. Rowland’s Continental Iron Works, which had built the Union iron clad Monitor in 1861, later became an industry leader in oil storage tank design and construction. Learn more in Offshore Rig Patent of 1869.

As many new and returning visitors explore the AOGHS website, the historical society is especially grateful to our supporting members. Please help add new content and preserve petroleum history. Your contribution keeps the historical society operating.

— Bruce Wells, Executive Director, American Oil & Gas Historical Society

“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


The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.


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