Petroleum History Events
Also see Museum News
Updated March 2020
The American Oil & Gas Historical maintains an updated list (and links) of U.S. petroleum museums by state. Have petroleum history news, a special event, or an exhibit opening? Contact the society at email@example.com with details you would like to submit for posting here or in Oil Museum News.
Energy Education Events
Cancelled (COVID-19) Petroleum History Institute Symposium: April 2-4, 2020
The 2020 Oil History Symposium and Field Trip of the Petroleum History Institute (PHI) will take place April 2-4, 2020, in Santa Barbara, California. A call for papers has been issued for the institute’s peer-reviewed journal, Oil-Industry History. PHI requests that abstracts be submitted soon. The annual symposium includes oral and poster presentations of about 30 minutes each.
More information and details about submitting an abstract can be found on the PHI website. PHI annually recognizes “individuals who have contributed to the development and heritage of the international oil and natural gas industry.”
A “Colonel Edwin L. Drake Legendary Oilman Award” “is directed to those persons who during there worthy careers have materially contributed to the process of finding, producing, transporting, and refining crude oil and natural gas.”
In addition, the PHI “Samuel T. Pees Keeper of the Flame Award” recognizes individuals “who have provided great service in preserving and bringing before the public the heritage and history of the oil and gas industry.”
Contact for update (COVID-19) East Texas Oil Museum to host Energy Symposium
The East Texas Oil Museum at Kilgore College on May 5, 2020, will host the eleventh annual East Texas Energy Symposium. This year’s speakers include Sendhendu Kashikar, CEO of Reveal Energy Services; Tim Greene, business development manager for Deep Imaging Technologies; and Dr. Mahdi Haddad, postdoctoral fellow for the Bureau of Economic Geology.
The symposium, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with lunch, also features keynote speaker Dr. Neil Frank, former director of the U.S. Hurricane Center and chief meteorologist for KHOU Houston – Channel 11 News, who will speak on “Climate Change: Carbon Dioxide Distortions.”
The 2020 symposium costs $50; attendees are welcome to tour the museum from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. or after the symposium. To learn more, contact East Texas Oil Museum at Kilgore College Director Olivia Moore at (903) 983-8295 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact for update (COVID-19) Global Oil Oil Heritage Conference will be May 7-9, 2020, in Ontario
A seminar on the international heritage of the oil industry is set for May 7-9, 2020, in Oil Springs, Ontario, Canada. About 30 petroleum experts, historians, preservationists, and representatives from conservation agencies will discuss a variety of issues, according to conference organizers, Fairbank Oil Fields and The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage (TICCIH).
A May 9 field trip will include trips to the Oil Museum in Oil Springs and a tour of Fairbank Oil Fields. The oil heritage conference also “will mark the presentation of the TICCIH thematic study on the oil industry (which can be downloaded at ticcih.org thematic studies), the preparation of which has been supported by Fairbank Oil Fields,” according to James Douet, who authored the study and will discuss it at 11 a.m. on May 8.
After the meeting, Douet’s “The Heritage of the Oil Industry: TICCIH Thematic Study” will be presented to the International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage (ICOMOS), which provides guidance in evaluating nominations to the UNESCO World Heritage List. For more information about the conference and tour, contact Patricia McGee (email@example.com), Chair of the Lambton TICCIH Conference Steering Committee. To learn more about the thematic study, contact Douet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EIA expands and improves International Energy Website
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on February 5, 2020, announced it had redesigned its International Energy Portal, “to streamline navigation, simplify data presentation, and implement responsive design use.”
Among the improvements, EIA site visitors now can customize data tables to sort by energy source and activity or by country and region. “Users can now see and select countries within continental regions, International Energy Agency regions, and economic groups” and “Animated maps allow users to see how trends in energy production, consumption, reserves, imports, and exports have changed over time.”
EIA charts also provide annual data on energy production, consumption, trade, and reserves. Examples of information available in the portal include: country-level refined petroleum products consumption; global carbon dioxide emissions over a 30-year period; how the United States ranks in energy consumption; and annual Eurasia regional total and country-level natural gas reserves.
Earth Science Week 2019 promoted Geosciences in Education
The American Geosciences Institute, as part of its annual Earth Science Week, presented popular educational tool kits to teachers according to AGI. Each kit included: school-year activity calendar; NASA, LandSat, and National Park Service posters; geologic maps for mineral education; global change and materials on Geodesy; a fact sheet from Critical Zones Observatories; Switch Energy Project information on energy science; Bureau of Land Management dinosaur coloring page; material on constructing the “Rock Cycle” from the Geological Society America; and more on what it means to be an Earth scientist.
“The photography contest is open to all ages. In addition, the Earth Expressions contest calls for brief videos exploring Earth science,” adds AGI, which was founded in 1948 under a directive of the National Academy of Sciences.“Each year, many science teachers encourage students to participate in the traditional Earth Science Week visual arts contest, open to students in grades K-5, or the essay contest, which is open to those in grades 6-9,” AGI explains. Based in Alexandria, Virginia, AGI reports that Earth Science Week 2018 toolkits will ship starting in August. For ordering, special shipping, and bulk orders, visit the AGI Online Store or phone AGI Publications at (703) 379-2480.
Oil History in Connecticut
A failed 2018 effort to preserve oil history by residents of New Canaan, Connecticut, at least educated many people about Standard Oil history.
At issue was “The Barn,” a Standard Oil Company of New York storage and distribution facility built around 1910. The brick carriage house is located in a city park that once sheltered horse-drawn kerosene tank wagons for distributing lamp fuel to local hardware stores.
“There is no other structure like The Barn in New Canaan,” noted one local historian. It was the last remaining structure of its type and style in the state. In the course of researching Standard Oil history, many residents discovered little-known details about facility (learn more in Preserving a Standard Oil Barn in Connecticut).
The historic community, located a short distance from New York City, has been home to some leading industry executives (see Oil Executives in Connecticut).
1929 Ice Truck joins East Texas Oil Museum Exhibits
In a victory for preserving history in East Texas, community activists and volunteers have dedicated a new building at the East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore. Inside is a truck that delivered ice during a giant oil boom during the Great Depression.
The Longview News-Journal reported on February 2, 2018, that Mike and Amy Clements donated “a beautifully restored 1929 Mack truck” to the museum’s collection.
A special structure was built to house the exhibit. “The truck, outfitted to deliver ice used to keep provisions cool in iceboxes like those seen during the early days of the East Texas oil boom, will help the museum more fully tell the story of life in those times,” the newspaper reported. Located at Kilgore College, the East Texas Oil Museum is “a tribute to the men and women who dared to dream as they pursued the fruits of free enterprise.” The museum opened in 1980 on the 50th anniversary of the giant oilfield discovery.
Oil Industry’s Chief Roughnecks Award began in 1955
One of the petroleum industry’s top awards since 1955 recognizes “one individual whose accomplishments and character represent the highest ideals of the oil and natural gas industry.” The annual award includes a bronze bust of Joe Roughneck presented by a U.S. Steel executive during the annual meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.
AOGHS participates in Oklahoma Meeting of Mid-Continent Geologists
Bruce Wells, founder and executive director of the American Oil & Gas Historical Society (AOGHS), attended the Mid-Continent Section Meeting of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), September 30 to October 4, 2017, in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Geological Foundation sponsored his attendance.
Wells described the AOGHS energy education mission while leading a September 30 field trip to the Phillips Petroleum Company Museum in Bartlesville. Wells later spoke on the history of hydraulic fracturing during a technical session on October 3.
Among AAPG members attending the meeting was current national President Charles Sternbach, an expert on a pioneering New York State geologist who created geological maps based on excavation of the Erie Canal in the 1820s. Learn more about the 2017 AAPG Oklahoma City meeting in Meeting Mid-Continent Geologists and the related article, Library of Mid-Continent Well Data.
Celebrating a Texas Oil Boom Centennial in Ranger
For a week in mid-October, the town of Ranger and all of Eastland County, Texas, celebrated a discovery well drilled 100 years ago. Their historic J.H. McClesky No. 1 well is better known as “Roaring Ranger.”
Word spread far and wide soon after that fall day in 1917 when the McCleskey No. 1 well of Ranger, Texas, hit pay dirt, explains local historian Jeane B. Pruett. The October 17 gusher that proclaimed the beginning of the Great Boom.
An article in the New York Times proclaimed it, “probably the most spectacular boom ever to have occurred within the United States.”
Spectacular indeed, says Pruett. The United States, Great Britain, Italy, France and Russia were in the midst of WWI with Germany and the Central Powers. Russia had supplied the Allies with oil since 1914 and its withdrawal from the conflict in 1917 caused the Allies to have a “critical” petroleum shortage, she explains. Thus, Roaring Ranger’s oil boom was noted “The Boom that Won the War.”
“The week of October 14- 21, 2017, we’re celebrating,” Pruett said in a recent new release for events promoted as “The Centennial Year of The Boom that Won the War, and made our Eastland County.”
All are invited to join the celebration, which begins with the Big Parade at 2 p.m. on Loop 254, Saturday, October 14. It kicks off the week’s events.
After the parade, a 4 p.m. presentation with the Railroad at the Roaring Ranger Museum will take place on South Commerce Street, then proceed to the end of S. Commerce to name and dedicate the park, and a couple markers.
By 5:30 p.m. the Fort Hood 1st Cavalry Horse Detachment will be at the Ranger Rodeo Grounds and perform.
Pruett says events continue at 6:30 p.m. when the Leon River Cowboy Church hosts its Youth Rough Stock Rodeo. She also promises fun for all on Sunday the 15th, beginning at 2 p.m. The Ranger Ministerial Alliance will be serving hot dogs and hamburgers for a donation to a community meals program, and have singing with each church until 5 p.m. A 5K Run is planned to start at 3 p.m.
Pruett reports that Wednesday, October 18, is the celebration’s Education Day. “The schools are working with us and the students will be bused to and from the park and Roaring Ranger Museum.”
Saturday, October 21, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., will feature entertainment and special vendors and music by Texas Musicians, to get ready for a popular entertainer from Nashville, voice impressionist-comedian “Johnny Counterfit” and his show at 6 p.m., says Pruett. He recreates the singing voices of country music superstars, Hollywood legends, and comedians from the last 50 years.
“And when Johnny needs to take a break for a few, we’ll announce contest winners, for example the Beard Growing Contest winners,” she adds. For further information, contact by email: email@example.com; phone: (254) 647-3340; or mail: RHPS, P. O. Box 320, Ranger, Texas 76470.
49th Annual West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival
In West Virginia, where oil production began at about the same time as the 1859 first American oil well (some say earlier), the Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported events at a festival that has taken place nearby for almost half a century.
SISTERSVILLE (September 22, 2017) — Charlie Burd of Vienna said it was humbling to receive the honor of 2017 West Virginia Oil and Gas Man of the Year.
With this honor, Burd was parade marshal at last Saturday’s 49th annual Oil and Gas Festival parade in Sistersville. In the parade, Burd, executive director of the West Virginia Independent Oil & Gas Association, rode in a 1960 Chevrolet Corvette driven by its owner, Mike McCown of Mineral Wells, who was named W.Va. Oil and Gas Man of the Year in 2014.
Riding in the front seat of McCown’s Corvette was Burd’s son, Nathan, 19, a student at West Virginia University. The Burds handed out candy from the Corvette as it proceeded along the parade route crowded with spectators.
Charlie Burd said he had ridden in the Oil and Gas Festival parade before but never as parade marshal. “It was a fun time; it is such an honor,” he said. Burd was presented his award at a luncheon before the parade on Saturday. The Parkersburg South and Williamstown high school bands were among the bands participating in the Oil and Gas Festival parade.
Burd was selected by the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival. Burd worked for Hope Gas for almost 29 years. Burd became executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia (IOGAWV) in 2002.
IOGAWV was founded in 1959. Article courtesy Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
Summer brings Community Oil History Celebrations
Many petroleum museums participate in popular festivals, parades and oil shows hosted annually in the 33 producing states. Among the biggest oil-patch festivals is “Crude Fest,” a popular gathering of musicians outside of Midland, Texas.
Another summer oil-related event, this one just south of Dallas, is the Corsicana “annual ode to Texas’ first oil boom” with street dances, parades – and a charity fundraising event, the “Derrick Days Chili Cook-Off.”
It’s a good time to start planning to include an oil and gas festival as part of your vacation this summer. Join the fun in Midland and Corsicana – and the many other Community Oil & Gas Festivals.
Also mark you calendar for a Fall oil centennial – One hundred years ago this October, a Texas oilfield was discovered halfway between Abilene and Dallas. The October 17 “Roaring Ranger” well revealed a giant oilfield that helped win World War I. The town of Ranger is planning centennial events, according to Jeane Pruett: “Attention folks!! Make plans now, to join us in Ranger, Eastland County, Texas, as we celebrate not only our county, local and state history, but also national and international history! Beginning 2 p.m., Saturday, October 14, 2017, the big parade on Ranger’s loop 254 west will kick off an entireweek of centennial celebration ending on Saturday, October 21, 2017.”
Petroleum History Institute Symposiums: Salt Lake City, May 19-18, 2018;
Findlay, Ohio, July 13-15, 2017.
The Oil History Symposiums of the Petroleum History Institute include field trips and presentations for the institute’s annual journal, Oil-Field History.
The annual publication is “the only peer-reviewed professional journal devoted exclusively to the history of the international oil and natural gas industry – upstream, midstream and downstream topics are included,” according to PHI President Jeff Spencer.
Journal articles often come from PHI symposiums, which include oral and poster presentations of about 30 minutes each. “Although we try to focus on the area where the meeting is being held, we do welcome papers on any related topic regardless of its geography,” Spencer explained. More information and details about submitting an abstract can be found on the PHI website.
PHI each year presents the Colonel Edwin L. Drake Legendary Oilman Award and the Samuel T. Pees Keeper of the Flame Award, which “honors and recognizes individuals who have provided great service in preserving and bringing before the public the heritage and history of the oil and gas industry.”
North Texas Museum’s New Oil Patch Exhibit includes Rare Spudders
The Hutchinson County Historical Museum in Borger, Texas, is building a new outdoor petroleum exhibit that includes rare cable-tool “spudder” rigs from as early as the 1890s.
“The Oil Patch Place is coming together,” the museum website notes, adding that construction has been funded by Phillips 66 Company, Chevron Phillips Chemical (a producer of ethylene and polyethylene) and Rice Construction. The museum, which opened in 1977 about 40 miles northeast of Amarillo, preserves the heritage of Hutchinson County, with emphasis on the oilfield and boom town stories of the 1920-1930 era. Every March it hosts an “Oil Boom Heritage” festival.
Thousands rushed to the Texas Panhandle after a January 1926 oil discovery. A.P. “Ace” Borger of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who had purchased about 220 acres, and the Dixon Creek Oil and Refining Company’s Smith No. 1 well flowed at 10,000 barrels of oil a day. By September the Borger oilfield had more than 800 producing wells, yielding 165,000 barrels of oil a day.
Borger himself would lay out streets for the town, which grew to a city of 15,000 in just 90 days. The museum adds: “Think about how remote this place was when Thomas Bugbee established the first ranch in the county north of the Canadian River in 1873. How did John and Maggie Weatherly feel when they realized that Ace Borger had made himself a millionaire from his purchase of 220 acres of their ranch?”
Shale Gas Resources will soon make United States an Energy Exporter
Once heavily dependent on oil imports, the United States will become a net energy exporter in most cases projected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2017. The report, released January 5, 2017, in Washington, D.C., updates projections for energy markets. It predicts U.S. petroleum liquid imports will fall and natural gas exports rise.
Growing U.S. shale gas resources produced with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies have dramatically changed America’s energy future, explained EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski, who revealed the report at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He noted that the petroleum industry’s technological developments have resulted in the production of oil and natural gas at lower costs.
Sieminski presented projections of U.S. energy supply, demand and prices. He also considered cases that addressed alternative assumptions regarding U.S. economic growth rates, domestic resources and technology, and world oil prices. He has led EIA since June 2012 after a 40-year career in the private sector, including serving as the chief energy economist for Deutsche Bank. He also was a past president of the U.S. Association for Energy Economics.
Penn-Brad Oil Museum hosts Fall 2016 Open House
The Penn-Brad Oil Museum (and Historical Oil Well Park) hosted its annual fall open house on October 23, 2016, in the historic oil regions of northwestern Pennsylvania in the Allegheny Forest. Long-time petroleum museum Director Sherri Schulze described for visiting Girl Scouts the nation’s “first billion dollar oilfield,” discovered near Bradford in 1871. Her open house featured hand-pressed cider and movies in the “Dog House Theater,” noted the Bradford Era.
In November 1899, the New York World featured the famous Bradford oilfield – and the nitroglycerine company run by a woman more than two decades before women won the right to vote. Mrs. Byron Alford, the “Only Woman in the World who Owns and Operates a Dynamite Factory,” was an astute businesswoman, as revealed in Mrs. Alford’s Nitro Factory.
Bradford also is home to the oldest operating refinery in the United States. Founded in 1881, the American Refining Group (ARC) facility originally refined just 10 barrels of oil a day. In 2013, its capacity was 11,000 barrels of oil a day. ARC reports that it introduced the first quart can nationally for motor oils in 1933; in 1960, its refinery was the first to introduce motorcycle racing oil. Bradford also home to the Zippo Manufacturing Company, established there in 1932.
In addition to Bradford’s oil museum (actually located in nearby Custer City), more petroleum history exhibits are on display at the Drake Well Museum in Titusville, about 70 miles west. The two museums are separated by the spectacular Allegheny National Forest. Near the state border, the Pioneer Oil Museum of New York at Bolivar is equally helpful for learning about America’s earliest oilfield exploration heritage.
Video tells Oil Story of Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s petroleum industry began in Bartlesville in 1892 with the Nellie Johnstone No. 1 gusher, explains “This is the City that Oil Built,” a June 2016 video at the Bartlesville Area History Museum.
Based on the heritage of Bartlesville and Washington County, the short video looks at the legacies of local industry giants, including Henry V. Foster, Frank and L.E. Phillips, Armais Arutunoff and Harry Sinclair. It features Harold C. Price, who developed an electric welding technique for pipelines.
The Bartlesville legacy of these petroleum titans also includes the Phillips Petrolem Company Museum, which opened in 2007, and Price Tower, the only skyscraper designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. South of Bartlesville is the 3,700-acre Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve, established in 1925 as the ranch retreat of Frank Phillips.
“We’ve reaped the benefits of what these guys left,” concludes Woolaroc CEO Bob Fraser in the 12-minute video, which was produced by local production company PioneerDream Inc. and can be viewed on YouTube. Among the exhibits at the Bartlesville Area History Museum is the original casing head of the historic Nellie Johnstone No. 1 discovery well.
Humble Museum Anniversary
The Humble Museum in Humble, Texas, celebrated it’s 40th anniversary with an open house on July 30, 2016. The museum on Main Street preserves the history of the area, including the key roles of oil in the everyday life in small town. It was organized as a Bicentennial Project in 1976.
In the museum’s early days, local residents donated so many artifacts that the museum outgrew the original building. In 1985 community support made it possible move the museum to downtown Humble at 1219 Main Street. Remodeling, restoring and furnishing the building was completed and the new home of the Humble Museum was dedicated September 25, 1988.
“There is no charge to enter the museum and enjoy learning about our city’s history. Funds for operation of the museum are provided by the City of Humble, members of the Humble Museum Society, donations from visitors, and the sale of museum gift shop items,” notes the website.
A Treasure of Oklahoma Oil History in Bartlesville
Summer visitors may underestimate Shirley Patterson’s petroleum history knowledge when she welcomes them to the Phillips Petroleum Company Museum in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. This quickly changes when the diminutive museum associate offers her first-person accounts of the people and events she witnessed after joining the company in 1952. Patterson, who began at Phillips as a secretary and later worked in accounting, knew every company president except the first, Frank Phillips.
The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Support this energy education website by joining AOGHS today as a supporting member. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.