October 18, 2023  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 4, No. 10

Oil & Gas History News

Welcome to our October newsletter. This month features many historic discoveries, including the “Roaring Ranger” of 1917 that helped fuel victory in World War I. Our weekly summaries include a 1931 multi-state pipeline; a converted offshore platform that began launching rockets in 1999; the founding of Skelly Oil in 1919; and wells drilled in New Mexico in the 1920s. October’s featured articles explore the record-setting King Ranch lease signed in 1933; the significance of geology in a 1915 Kansas oilfield discovery; newsworthy mid-19th century California oil wells; and the many stories behind the “Black Giant” discovered in East Texas on October 3,1930. Thanks for subscribing!

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.

October 16, 1931 – Natural Gas Pipeline sets Record

America’s first long-distance, high-pressure natural gas pipeline went into service during the Great Depression; it linked the prolific Texas Panhandle gas fields to consumers in Chicago. The 980-mile bolted flange pipeline required 2,600 separate right-of-way leases…MORE

October 9, 1999 – Converted Offshore Platform launches Rocket

Sea Launch, a Boeing-led consortium of companies from the United States, Russia, Ukraine and Norway, launched its first commercial rocket using the Ocean Odyssey, a modified semi-submersible drilling platform. After a demonstration flight in March, a Russian Zenit-3SL rocket carried a DirecTV satellite to geostationary orbit…MORE

October 2, 1919 – Future “Mr. Tulsa” incorporates Skelly Oil

Skelly Oil Company incorporated in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with founder William Grove Skelly as president. He had been born in 1878 in Erie, Pennsylvania, where his father hauled oilfield equipment. Skelly’s success in the El Dorado oilfield east of Wichita, Kansas, helped him launch Skelly Oil and other ventures, including Midland Refining Company, which he founded in 1917…MORE

September 25, 1922 – First New Mexico Oil Well

Midwest Refining Company launched the New Mexico petroleum industry by completing the state’s first commercial oil well. Drilled near Shiprock on the Navajo Indian Reservation, the Hogback No. 1 well produced 375 barrels of oil per day. Midwest completed 11 more wells to establish the Hogback field as a major producer of the San Juan Basin…MORE

Energy Education

The 1917 oilfield discovery at Ranger, Texas, created a drilling boom as petroleum demand soared in Europe during World War I. Following the 1918 armistice, a member of the British War Cabinet would declare, “The Allied cause floated to victory upon a wave of oil.” Photo courtesy family of W.K. Gordon Jr. and Ranger Historical Preservation Society.

“Roaring Ranger” helps fuel WW I Victory

A wildcat well drilled halfway between Abilene and Dallas, erupted oil on October 17, 1917, launching a Texas drilling boom that helped fuel the Allied victory in World War I. The J. H. McCleskey No. 1 well revealed a giant oilfield two miles south of the small town of Ranger, which had been founded in the 1870s near a Texas Ranger camp in Eastland County. After the Great War, among the veterans attracted to North Texas was a young Conrad Hilton, who visited Cisco intending to buy a bank. When he witnessed the long line of roughnecks waiting for a room at the Mobley Hotel, he decided to buy the hotel instead. Ranger residents annually celebrate their 1917 oilfield discovery with a festival and parade down Main Street.

Learn more in Roaring Ranger wins WWI and Oil Boom Brings First Hilton Hotel.

Featured Articles

King Ranch signs Largest Private Oil Lease

The largest U.S. private oil lease ever negotiated was signed in Texas during the Great Depression. The 825,000 acre King Ranch oil deal with Humble Oil and Refining, signed in 1933, would help the company become ExxonMobil, which has extended the agreement ever since. Despite unsuccessful wells drilled on the south Texas ranch for more than a decade, a Humble Oil geologist had been convinced an oilfield could be found.

Learn more in Oil Reigns at King Ranch.

Petroleum Geology reveals Mid-Continent Oilfield

In October 1915, the science of petroleum geology played a key role in discovering the El Dorado oilfield in Kansas — and the many other Mid-Continent fields that followed. Community leaders in El Dorado had been desperate for their town to live up to its name, especially after natural gas discoveries at nearby Augusta.  Drilled by a subsidiary of Cities Service Company, the discovery well revealed the 34-square-mile El Dorado oilfield.

Learn more in Kansas Oil Boom.

First California Oil Wells

About 35 miles north of Los Angeles, Pico Canyon produced limited amounts of crude oil as early as 1855, but there was no market for the oil. A small boom came a decade later in the northern part of the state when a well near natural oil seeps in Humboldt County, attracting more exploration companies. California’s first truly commercial oil well of September 26, 1876, led to construction of a pipeline and a kerosene refinery.

Learn more in First California Oil Wells.

“Black Giant” discovered in East Texas

With a crowd of more than 4,000 landowners, leaseholders and others watching, the Daisy Bradford No. 3 well was “shot” with nitroglycerin near Kilgore, Texas, on October 3, 1930. Geologists would be surprised when it became apparent the well on the widow Bradford’s farm — along with two other wells far to the north — proved to be part of the same oil-producing formation (the Woodbine) encompassing more than 140,000 acres.

Learn more in East Texas Oilfield Discovery.

Thank you for reading our October summary of petroleum history — the milestones that have shaped the modern energy industry. Your interest in this history is important, and if there are articles you especially liked, please share them with your friends. Also tell others about the AOGHS website, which continues to grow and attract a wider audience, including educators and students. Thanks too for any financial support of our work to preserve an important — but often neglected — part of American history.

— Bruce Wells

Help preserve history. Donate today.

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