Arkansas oil discoveries as early as the 1920s created boom towns and launched the state’s petroleum industry. In the 1950s, Arkansas Oil Ventures would try but fail to be part of a drilling resurgence.
Arkansas’ first commercial oil well was drilled in 1921 at El Dorado in Union County, 15 miles north of the Louisiana border. The 68-square-mile field will lead U.S. oil output by 1925 – with production reaching 70 million barrels.
When another well revealed the Smackover field, Arkansas oil fever began. It would last for decades. The Fayetteville Shale, a 50-mile-wide formation across central Arkansas, promised large quantities of natural gas. Petroleum technologies of the time could not economically produced it. Read more in Arkansas Oil and Gas Boom Towns.
Although glory days of Arkansas oil production dropped from about 58 million barrels of oil in 1926 to 12 million barrels by 1932, a dozen more major fields were discovered between 1936 and 1947.
Today, more than 1.8 billion barrels of oil have been produced in Arkansas. The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources just outside Smackover commemorates the oil booms.
Arkansas Oil Ventures
“From the late 1930s into the late 1960s, the oil industry enjoyed a resurgence in south Arkansas, though paling in comparison to the boom years of the early 1920s,” notes Kenneth Bridges, South Arkansas Community College, in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.
Among those attempting to take part in the state’s later exploration and production growth was Arkansas Oil Ventures.
Although few financial records can be found today, the new oil company incorporated in Delaware in 1952 and issued almost two million shares of stock. It drilled the Doggett No. 1 well in Jackson County, Arkansas. The well was a dry hole.
Arkansas Oil Ventures was out of the oil business by 1961 – but recapitalized as Trojan Industries in 1969.
The recapitalization included exchanging each share of Arkansas Oil Ventures common stock (one cent par value) for one share of Trojan Industries common stock (one-half cent par value).
Leaving the petroleum business far behind, Trojan Industries changed its name to Leisure Trends Inc. in May of 1970. The company’s charter was cancelled March 1, 1978.
The stories of other attempts to join petroleum exploration booms (and avoid busts) can be found in an updated series of research at Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything?