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May 18, 2022  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 3, No. 5

Oil & Gas History News

Welcome to our latest summary of events that shaped the energy industry. Thank you for subscribing and for your helpful comments and suggestions. This month’s issue looks at earth science and technology pioneers, historic oilfield discoveries in Ohio and Texas, and petroleum’s interesting connection with the Civil War. Also featured is a 70-foot marketing icon introduced in 1933 by one of the oldest U.S. oil companies. If you enjoyed these (and any other) articles, please share them!

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 16, 1817 – U.S. Geology Described and Mapped

Geologist and cartographer William Maclure presented the first detailed study of U.S. geology after he and three other earth scientists completed an extensive geological field trip in 1817. That same year Maclure was named president of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, a post he would hold for more than two decades. The Scottish American’s work earned him the title of “Father of American Geology”…MORE

May 9, 1863 – Confederate Cavalry raids Oilfield

A brigade of Confederate cavalry attacked a thriving oil town near the Ohio River in what would soon become West Virginia. Confederate Gen. William “Grumble” Jones led the cavalry attack on Burning Springs oilfield storage facilities containing thousands of barrels of oil. According to one West Virginia historian, the Confederate raid marked the first time an oilfield was targeted in war…MORE

May 2, 1921 – Oil discovered in Texas Panhandle

Following a series of discoveries revealing the giant Hugoton natural gas field in the Texas Panhandle, a well drilled near present-day Borger found an oilfield instead. Gulf Oil Company completed its Carson County wildcat well on the 6666 (the “Four Sixes”) Ranch of S.B. Burnett several miles east of the natural gas wells. The oilfield discovery soon attracted major oil companies to Amarillo and other North Texas towns…MORE

April 25, 1865 – Civil War Veteran patents Well Torpedo

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.” Fracturing geologic formations using the Roberts Torpedo proved to be a key technological achievement for the petroleum industry…MORE

Energy Education

Sinclair Oil Dinosaur Pavilion at Chicago Century of Progress International Expo.

Sinclair Oil’s “Brontosaurus” first appeared at the 1933-1934 Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago. An updated version of the 70-foot marketing icon (and his Jurassic friends) would be viewed by millions and travel more 10,000 miles in 25 states following the New York World’s Fair in 1964-1965.

Sinclair Oil & Refining founded in 1916

After bringing together a collection of depressed oil properties, five small refineries, and untested leases, Harry Ford Sinclair founded Sinclair Oil & Refining Corporation on May 1, 1916. Destined to become one of the oldest continuous names in the U.S. petroleum industry, his company introduced its famous Brontosaurus and other dinosaurs during the Great Depression. In 1935, Sinclair Oil began publishing dinosaur stamps and an album that could be filled with colorful dinosaurs issued one at a time weekly at Sinclair service stations. Four million stamps would be issued, astounding marketing professionals

Learn more in Dinosaur Fever – Sinclair’s Icon.

Featured Articles

Lima Oilfield discovered in Ohio

The “Great Oil Boom” of northwestern Ohio began in May 1885, when Benjamin Faurot, drilling for natural gas, found oil instead. His discovery  revealed the petroleum-rich Trenton Rock Limestone at a depth of 1,252 feet. “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,” reported the Lima Daily Republican.

Learn more in Great Oil Boom of Lima, Ohio.

Coin-Operated “Slot Machine” Gas Pumps

Almost as soon as the first gas stations appeared, inventors began experimenting with ways to make user-friendly pumps for consumers. The revenue possibilities of self-service gasoline pumps prompted a number of innovators to develop coin-operated systems in the early 20th Century: “Drop the coin in the slot…Mr. Robot delivers the correct amount of gasoline.”

Learn more in Coin-Operated Gas Pumps

Thanks again for subscribing — and supporting — the American Oil & Gas Historical Society and our ongoing effort to incorporate history into classrooms. Please also support your local oil and gas museum. Many of these community energy educators have programs extending far beyond oilfield exhibits and archives. For just one example, see the oral history project conducted by students at an event tomorrow at the East Texas Oil Museum at Kilgore College!

— Bruce Wells

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© 2021 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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