Forum for sharing information about artifact research and preserving petroleum history.


Updated September 6, 2022

The American Oil & Gas Historical Society (AOGHS) established this oil history forum page to help AOGHS members share research. For oilfield-related family heirlooms, the society also maintains an Oil & Gas Families page to help locate suitable museum collections for preserving these unique histories. Information about old petroleum company stock certificates can be found at the popular forum linked to Is my Oil Oil Stock worth Anything?

Here is a simple way to help researchers share ideas and oil and gas historical information! Contact the society at if you would like your research question added to this oil history forum. Please use the comment section to answer or make suggestions. Post your answers or comments at the bottom of this page.


Oil and Gas History Research Forum


Research Request: September 3, 2022

Identifying a Circa 1915 Gas Pump

From the lead mechanic at San Diego Air & Space Museum

I’m hoping someone visiting the American Oil & Gas Historical Society’s website can help me identify the gas pump we are restoring here at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. I believe it’s a Gilbert and Barker from 1915 or so.

 Circa 1905 Gas Pump details.

The data plate is missing and I’ve been having trouble finding a similar one in my online search. Thanks!

— Gary Schulte, Lead Mechanic, SDASM

Please email Gary or post your reply in the comments section below. 

Learn more history about early kerosene and gasoline pumps in First Gas Pump and Service Station; a collector’s rare 1892 pump in Wayne’s Self-Measuring Pump; and the 24-hour Gas-O-Mat in Coin-Operated Gas Pumps.


Research Request: August 11, 2022

Gas Streetlights in the Deep South

From a professor, author and “history detective”

I am doing historical research on gas streetlights in the Deep South. Any suggestions will be much appreciated. My big problem at the moment is Henry Pardin. He bought the patent rights to a washing machine in Washington, DC, in 1856 and was in Augusta, Georgia, in 1856. Pardin set up gas streetlights in Baton Rouge, Holly Springs, Natchez, and Shreveport in 1857-1860. I have failed to find him in any of the standard research sources.

Any help on gas street lights in the south before the Civil War is appreciated. Thank you for your time.

— Prof. Robert S. “Bob” Davis, Blountsville, Alabama,

Please email Bob or post your reply in the comments section below. 


Research Request: August 5, 2022

Drop in Stop Action Film

From a stop action film researcher:

“Your website is doing good things for education. It is a gold mine for STEM high school teachers — and also for people like me, who like stop motion oil industry films, Bill Rodebaugh noted in an August 2022 email to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. 

stop action character shaped  like a drop.

Researcher seeks the origin of stop action film (oil?) drops.

Rodebaugh, who has researched many stop motion archives (including AOGHS links at Petroleum History Videos), seeks help finding the source of an unusual character — a possible oil drop with a face and arms. The purpose of the figures remains unknown.

“I am discouraged about finding that stop motion film, because I have seen or skimmed through many of those industry films, which are primarily live action,” Rodebaugh explained. He knows the puppet character is not from the Shell Oil educational films, “Birth of an Oil Field” (1949) or “Prospecting for Petroleum” (1956). He hopes a website visitor can assist in identifying the origin of the hand-manipulated drops. “I am convinced that if this stop motion film can be found, it would be very interesting.”

— Bill Rodebaugh,

Please email Bill or post your reply in the comments section below. 

Research Request: July 2022

Gas Station Marketplace History

From an automotive technology writer:

I’m looking for any information on the financial environment during the early days of the automotive and gasoline station industry. The idea is to compare and contrast the market-driven forces back then to the potential for government subsidies/investments etc. to pay for electric vehicle charging stations today.

At this point, I have not found any evidence but I wanted to be thorough and ask the petroleum history community. From what I have seen, gas stations were funded privately by petroleum companies and their investors and shareholders.

I’m not talking about gas station design or the impact on the nation/communities, but the market forces behind the growth of the industry. Please let me know of any recommended sources. I have already read The Gas Station in America by Jackie & Sculle.

— Gary Wollenhaupt,

Please email Gary or post your reply in the comments section below. 
Research Request: April 2022

Seeking Information about Doodlebugs

From a Colorado author, consulting geologist and engineer:

I am trying to gather information on doodlebugs, by which I mean pseudo-geophysical oil-finding devices. These could be anything from modified dowsing rods or pendulums to the mysterious black boxes. Although literally hundreds of these were used to search for oil in the 20th century, they seem to have almost all disappeared, presumably thrown out with the trash. If anyone has access to one of these devices, I would like to know.

— Dan Plazak

Please post reply in comments section below or email Dan Plazak is a longtime AOGHS supporting member and a contributor to the historical society’s article Luling Oil Museum and Crudoleum.


Research Request: February 2022

Know anything about W.L. Nelson of University of Tulsa?

From an associate professor of history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts:

I am doing research on the role of the University of Tulsa in the education of petroleum refining engineers and in particular am seeking information about a professor who taught there named W.L. Nelson, author of the textbook Petroleum Refinery Engineering, first published in 1936. He taught at Tulsa until at least the early 1960s. He was also one of the founders of the Oil and Gas Journal and author of the magazine’s “Q&A on Technology” column. If anyone has any leads for original archival sources by or about Nelson and UT, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you and best wishes, M.G. 
Please post reply in comments section below or email

Oil History Forum

Research requests from 2021:

Star Oil Company Sign

Looking for information about an old porcelain sign from the Star Oil Company of Chicago.

Learn more in Seeking Star Oil Company.

AOGHS membership ad for 2020

Bowser Gas Pump Research

I have a BOWSER, pump #T25988; cut #103. This is a vintage hand crank unit. I can’t seem to find any info on it! Any help would be appreciated, Thank You. (Post comments below) — Larry

A early Bowser Gasoline Pump illustration in AOGHS oil history forum.

Hand-cranked Bowser Cut 103 Pump.

Originally designed to safely dispense kerosene as well as “burning fluid, and the light combustible products of petroleum,” early S.F. Bowser pumps added a hose attachment for dispensing gasoline directly into automobile fuel tanks by 1905. See First Gas Pump and Service Station for more about these pumps and details about Bowser’s innovations.

Bowser company once proclaimed its “Cut 103” as “the fastest indoor gasoline gallon pump ever made” with an optional “hose and portable muzzle for filling automobiles.”

Collectors’ sites like offer research tips for those who share an interest in gas station technological innovations.

Circa 1900 California Oilfield Photo

My grandfather worked the oilfields in California in the early 1900’s.

Detail of circa 1900 CA oilfield posted in AOGHS oil history forum.

Unidentified California oilfield, circa 1900, posted in AOGHS oil history forum.

He worked quite a bit in Coalinga and also Huntington Beach. He had this in his old pictures. I would like to identify it if possible. The only clue that I see is the word Westlake at the bottom of the picture. What little research I could do led me to believe it might be the Los Angeles area?

I would appreciate any help you can provide. (Post comments below.) — B.

Cities Service Bowling Teams

I was wondering if there are any records or pictures of bowling leagues and teams for Cities Service in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Houston, Texas, or Lafayette, Louisiana. I would appreciate any information. My dad was on the team. (Post comments below.)  — Lisa

Oilfield Storage Tanks

My family has a farm in western PA and once had a small oil pump on the land. I’m trying to learn how the oil was transported from the pump. I know a man came in a truck more than once each week to turn on the pump and collect oil, but I don’t know if there was a holding tank, how he filled his truck, etc. (My mother was a child there in the ’40s and simply can’t recall how it all worked.) Can anyone point me at a resource that would explain such things? I’m working on a children’s book and need to get it right. Thank you. — (Post comments below.)  Lauren

Author seeking Historical Oil Prices

Can anyone at AOGHS tell me what the ballpark figures are in the amount of petroleum products so far extracted, versus how much oil-gas is left in the world? Also: the price per barrel of oil every decade from the 1920s to the present. And the resulting price per gallon during the decades from 1920 to the present year? I have almost completed my book about an independent oilman. Please post reply in comments section below or email

— John

Painting related to Standard Oil (ESSO)

I am researching an old oil painting on canvas that appears to be a gift to Esso Standard Corp. Subject: Iris flowers. There is some damage due to age but it is quite interesting. The painting appears to be signed in upper right corner: Hirase?

ESSO flower print for customers in AOGHS oil history forum.

On the back, along each side, is Japanese writing that I think translates to “Congratulations Esso Standard” and “the Tucker Corporation” or “the Naniwa Tanker Corporation.” Date unknown, possibly 1920s.

I am not an expert in art nor Japanese culture, so some of my translation could be incorrect. I was hoping you or your colleagues might shed some light on this painting.

— Nancy

Please post oil history forum replies in the comments section below or email

Early Gasoline Pumps

For the smaller, early stations from around 1930, was the gas stored in a tank in the ground below the dispenser/pump? — Chris  Please ad comment below.

Oilfield Jet Engines

I was wondering about a neat aspect of oil and natural gas production; namely, the use of old, retired aircraft jet engines to produce power at remote oil company locations, and to pump gas/liquid over long distances in pipelines. Does anyone happen to recall what year a jet engine was first employed by the industry for this purpose? Nowadays, there is an interesting company called S&S Turbine Services Ltd. (based at Fort St. John, British Columbia) that handles all aspects of maintenance, overhaul and rebuilding for these industrial jets.

— Lindsey 

Please post reply in comments section below or email

AOGHS membership ad for 2020

Natalie O. Warren Propane Tanker Memorabilia

My father spent his working life with Lone Star Gas, he is gone many years now I am getting on. Going through a few of his things. A little book made up that he received when he and my mother attended the commissioning of the Natalie O. Warren Propane Tanker. I am wondering if it is of any value to anyone. Or any museum.

— Bill  

Please post reply in comments section below or email

Elephant Advertising of Skelly Oil

My grandfather owned a Skelly service station in Sidney, Iowa in the 1930s and 1940s. I have a photo of him with an elephant in front of the station. I recall reading somewhere that Skelly had this elephant touring from station to station as an advertising stunt. Does anyone have any more history on the live elephant tour for Skelly Oil? I’d love to find out more. —  Jeff  Please ad comment below.

Tree Stumps as Oilfield Tools

I am a graduate student at the Architectural Association in London working on a project that looks at the potential use of tree stumps as structural foundations. While researching I found the following extract from an article on The Petroleum Industry of the Gulf Coast Salt Dome Area in the early 20th century: “In the dense tangle of the cypress swamp, the crew have to carry their equipment and cut a trail as they go. Often they use a tree stump as solid support on which they set up their instruments.” I have been struggling to find any photos or drawings of how this system would have worked (i.e. how the instruments were supported by the stump) I was wondering if you might know where I could find any more information?

— Andrew  

Post oil history forum replies in the comments section below or email

Texas Road Oil Patch Trip

“Hi, next year we are planning a road trip in the United States that starts in Dallas, Texas, heading to Amarillo and then on to New Mexico and beyond. We will be following the U.S. 287 most of the way to Amarillo and would like to know of any oil fields we could visit or simply photograph on the way. From Amarillo we plan to take the U.S. 87. We realise this is quite a trivial request but you help would be much appreciated.”

— Kristin 

Please post oil history forum replies in the comments section below or email

Antique Calculator: The Slide Rule

Here’s a question about those analog calculating devices that became obsolete when electronic pocket calculators arrived in the early 1970s…Learn more in Refinery Supply Company Slide Rule.

Please post oil history forum replies in the comments section below or email


The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS annual supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. Contact the society at if you would like a research question added. © 2022 Bruce A. Wells.


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