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May 19, 2021  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 2, No. 5

Oil & Gas History News

Welcome to our May summary of U.S. energy milestones that have led to today’s energy industry. This month includes more oil and gas museum news, the story of an 1882 “mystery well” in Pennsylvania, and two noteworthy patents for oilfield-related technologies. As always, your comments are welcomed — and a special thank you to our new subscribers and the many readers who share this newsletter.

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. 

May 17, 1882 – Mystery Well shocks Pennsylvania Oil Prices

With the U.S. petroleum industry less than 25 years old, a “Mystery Well” at Cherry Creek, Pennsylvania, flowed at 1,000 barrels of oil a day. Once a closely guarded secret, news of the prolific discovery sent shock waves through early oil trading markets. Certificates for more than 4.5 million barrels of oil were sold in one day at oil exchanges in Titusville, Oil City and Bradford…MORE

May 12, 2007 – Oil and Gas Museums open in Oklahoma

As part of the Oklahoma statehood centennial celebration, ConocoPhillips Corp. opened the Conoco Museum in Ponca City and the Phillips Petroleum Company Museum in Bartlesville. Conoco began in 1875 as the Continental Oil and Transportation Company, using horse-drawn wagons to deliver kerosene in Ogden, Utah. Brothers Frank and L.E. Phillips in 1917 consolidated their successful exploration companies to form Phillips Petroleum Company, which merged with Conoco in 2002…MORE

May 3, 1870 – Lantern with Two Spouts patented

Jonathan Dillen of Petroleum Centre, Pennsylvania, received a U.S. patent for his “safety derrick lamp,” a two-wicked lantern popularly known as the “Yellow Dog” in early oilfields. Dillen created his lamp, “for illuminating places out of doors, especially in and about derricks, and machinery in the oil regions, whereby explosions are more dangerous and destructive to life and property than in most other places…MORE

April 26, 1947 – Oil Industry promoted on Radio

For the first time since its establishment in 1919, the American Petroleum Institute (API) launched a national advertising campaign. “The theme of the drive is that the petroleum industry is a modern and progressive one, and is now turning out the best products in its history,” noted Billboard. “Radio this week struck real pay dirt as a ‘Gusher’ will come mainly from expansion of current air time…MORE

Energy Education

George Failing Drilling Truck AOGHS

On May 19, 1942, George E. Failing received a U.S. patent for a portable drilling rig he had invented a decade earlier using his Ford farm truck and an assembly to transfer power from the engine to the drill. Failing would receive more than 300 patents for oilfield tools. Photo courtesy GEFCO.

Technology Pioneers save Conroe Oilfield

When a catastrophic fire threatened the entire production of a Texas oilfield in early 1933, George E. Failing of Enid, Oklahoma, and H. John Eastman of Long Beach, California, applied new technologies to end the crisis. A well in the Conroe field had roared into flames, cratered, and swallowed two nearby rigs before Failing arrived with his portable rig to drill relief wells. H. John Eastman, known today as the father of directional drilling, later would apply recently perfected surveying instruments that allowed “the bit burrowing into the ground at strange angles,” according to Popular Science. Learn more in Technology and the “Conroe Crater.”

Oil & Gas Museums

In southwestern Kansas, the Stevens County Gas & Historical Museum in Hugoton  began welcoming visitors on May 16, 1961. Volunteer docents explained the history of what was then the largest natural gas field in the world. Covering more than 14 counties in Kansas, the Hugoton field extends 8,500 square miles into the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. It remains the world’s greatest source of helium. Learn more in Hugoton Natural Gas Museum.

All oil patch historians are encouraged to visit community oil and gas museums this summer. Many have begun reopening in PennsylvaniaOklahomaTexasCalifornia, and other states.

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

As the historical society adds more teacher and student subscribers, an encouraging number of supporting members are active or retired petroleum engineers, geologists, and other industry professionals. Their financial support, comments, and suggestions are appreciated. Thanks again to all AOGHS members for helping to preserve petroleum history.

— Bruce Wells

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