In 1917, the American Industrial Oil Company of Oklahoma City reportedly drilled several shallow “test wells” east of the Healdton oilfield, which had been discovered in August 1913 about 20 miles northwest of Ardmore.

The Healdton oilfield, which helped launch the career of service company giant Erle P. Halliburton, produced oil from shallow formations. It became known as the “poor man’s field” because of the low cost of drilling, and hundreds of small, independent oil companies would compete for leases and equipment.

Similar to an oil boom that made national headlines in 1911 in Electra, Texas, many new, inexperienced oil exploration companies rushed to region. Desperate for capital, a lot of them made extravagant claims to lure investors. Most would fail.

The 1917 well drilled by American Industrial Oil Company reportedly found small quantities of oil  at a depth of 685 feet about five miles west of Lone Grove, west of Ardmore, Oklahoma.

A year earlier (October 23, 1916), the Daily Ardmoreite newspaper, noting company officers as “J. B. French pres; J. C. Tinkle, vice-president; Reid Wallace; secretary and treasurer,” had reported other leasing activity in Harmon County.

On July 16, 1917, the trade publication Oil Paint and Drug Reporter also reported the company active “east of Enid, in Garfield County, (where) some important tests are under way. The American Industrial Oil Company has a rig up for a test if the Boyle farm in section 26-22-3 west.”

More reports followed, including a January 15, 1918, Texas Trade Review and Industrial Journal statement that “American Industrial Oil Co. purchased Kenthoma property and is completing plans for erection of oil refinery in Ardmore. Total cost including pipeline will be about $700,000.”

In February 1918, American Industrial Oil was reported to be committed to building a new refinery north of Ardmore on the Santa Fe railroad tracks. Work was predicted to start January 1919 with the objective to produce “lubricating oil, lampblack, axle grease and a number of other byproducts of petroleum.”

On May 15, 1918, the Industrial Record reported that American Industrial Oil Company was bidding for oil leases. But despite these and other reports of the company’s activity, little evidence can be found of American Industrial Oil building a pipeline, refinery or drilling a commercial successful oil well.

After several attempted mergers, American Industrial Oil went into receivership and disappeared by 1927.

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The stories of exploration and production companies joining petroleum booms (and avoiding busts) can be found updated in Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything? The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Please support this AOGHS.ORG energy education website. For membership information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2018 Bruce A. Wells.

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