April 22, 1920 – Natural Gas Well leads Arkansas Discoveries –

Although natural gas was first discovered in 1887 at Fort Smith, the first commercial production began in southern Arkansas with a well completed southeast of El Dorado. Drilled to a depth of almost 2,250 feet, the well produced up to 60 million cubic feet of natural gas a day and showed signs of oil from the Nacatoch formation sandstone. The first Arkansas oil wells arrived one year later at El Dorado and at Smackover in 1922.

April 22, 1926 – Osage Oil Lease Auctioneer Statue dedicated

A statue commemorating the friendship between oil and gas lease auctioneer Colonel E.E. Walters and Osage Indian Chief Baconrind (phonetically, Wah-she-hah) was dedicated in Walters’ hometown of Skedee, Oklahoma. Beginning in 1912, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth Walters (his real name) and the popular Chief of the Osage Nation raised millions of dollars for the tribe from mineral lease sales.

Oil and gas history includes a Skedee, Oklahoma, 1926 statue of a famed auctioneer and Osage chief

The town of Skedee, Oklahoma, has declined in population, but its 1926 statue of a famed auctioneer and Osage chief remains. Photo by Bruce Wells.

The auctions took place beneath an elm tree at the Tribal Council House in Pawhuska, where crowds gathering to witness bidding from Frank Phillips, E.W. Marland and William Skelly. The Skedee unveiling revealed “painted bronze” statues of Walters and the Chief Baconrind shaking hands on a sandstone base.

Learn more in Million Dollar Auctioneer

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April 22, 1930 – Marland unveils Pioneer Woman

One block from his mansion in Ponca City, Ernest Whitworth “E.W.” Marland unveiled The Pioneer Woman statue, his gift to the state to honor the role of women who settled there. A Pioneer Woman Museum opened nearby in 1958.

Ponca City's Pioneer Woman statue was created thanks to E.W. Marland and his oil and gas company.

More than 40,000 gathered in Ponca City for the unveiling of The Pioneer Woman, a 17-foot bronze statue. Photo courtesy Oklahoma Historical Society.

“Marland invited sculptors to submit competitive designs in the form of small models,” notes the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). “The models were exhibited across the nation and 750,000 people cast their vote.” The 17-foot bronze cast was erected at a cost of $300,000.

Marland had lost a fortune in the Pennsylvania oilfields during the panic of 1907 before founding Marland Oil in Ponca City in 1917. An early advocate of using seismography and core drilling for finding oil, by 1920 Marland’s company controlled an estimated 10 percent of the world’s oil production.

April 22, 1964 – Sinclair Dinoland returns to New York World’s Fair

Continuing its successful marketing campaign begun in the 1930s, Sinclair Oil opened a Dinoland pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. The exhibition of giant, fiberglass dinosaurs proved a hit with the 50 million people attending the fair. The first Sinclair Oil Dinoland, which attracted crowds to the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936, had been expanded for the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. Following the latest New York exhibition, the 70-foot green “Dino” and eight other dinosaurs traveled to make stops at shopping centers, delighting children in 25 states.

April 23, 1878 – Oil Exchange Building opened in Pennsylvania

The Oil Exchange of Oil City, Pennsylvania, opened a new, $100,000 brick building on Seneca Street. Independent producers began meeting there to trade oil and pipeline certificates. They had earlier gathered at local hotels or along Oil City’s Centre Street, then known as the “Curbside Exchange.”

petroleum history april

By 1877, Pennsylvania oil companies had created the third largest financial exchange of any kind in America, behind only New York and San Francisco.

Before the 1870s, most Pennsylvania oil buyers had taken on-site delivery of oil in wooden barrels they provided themselves. A rapidly growing oil pipeline infrastructure created the need for a place to trade certificates as oil commerce expanded. The Standard Oil Company of New Jersey would bring an end to Pennsylvania’s highly speculative oil-trading markets.

Learn more in End of Oil Exchanges.

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April 24, 1911 – Magnolia Petroleum founded

The Magnolia Petroleum Company was founded as an unincorporated joint-stock association — a consolidation of several companies, the first of which began in 1898 as a small refinery in Corsicana during the first Texas oil boom.

Magnolia Petroleum would merge with Socony Mobil Oil in the 1930s and replace its flower with the “Flying Pegasus” logo.

As Magnolia Petroleum established service stations in southwestern states, Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony) began acquiring the company in 1925 before merging with the Vacuum Oil Company in 1931. The new company, Socony-Vacuum Oil — the future Mobil Oil — included stations in 20 states operated by Magnolia Petroleum, headquartered in a Dallas skyscraper. Magnolia adopted the Socony-Vacuum Oil Pegasus logo, which began rotating atop the building in 1934.

Learn more in Mobil’s High-Flying Trademark.

April 24, 1917 – Petroleum Product for Eyelashes trademarked

Tom Lyle Williams, doing business in Chicago as Maybell Laboratories, trademarked the name Lash-Brow-Ine as a mascara and “preparation for stimulating the growth of eyebrows and eyelashes.” Two years earlier, Williams had watched his sister Mabel perform what she called “a secret of the harem,” mixing petroleum jelly with coal dust and applying it to her eyelashes.

A circa 1930 Maybelline mascara kit and small eyelash brush.

Women once used toothpicks to mix lamp black with Vaseline. By the 1930s, Maybelline mascara was available at local five-and-dime stores. Photo courtesy Sharrie Williams.

The mascara’s key ingredient, Vaseline, had been patented in 1872 by Robert Chesebrough, a young chemist in Brooklyn, New York. Williams began selling tins of Mabel’s mixture by mail-order catalog, calling it “lash-brow-ine.” With sales exceeding $100,000 by 1920, Williams renamed the mascara Maybelline in honor of his sister, who worked with him in his Chicago office.

Learn more in The Crude Story of Mabel’s Eyelashes.

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April 25, 1865 – Civil War Veteran patents Well Torpedo

Civil War veteran Col. Edward A.L. Roberts of New York City received the first of his many patents for an “Improvement in Exploding Torpedoes in Artesian Wells.” The invention used controlled downhole explosions “to fracture oil-bearing formations and increase oil production.”

A oil and gas history marker notes the 1865 first demonstration of the invention of Union Col. E.A.L. Roberts.

A Pennsylvania historical marker notes the 1865 first demonstration of the invention of Union Col. E.A.L. Roberts.

Roberts torpedoes were filled with gunpowder, lowered into wells, and ignited by a weight dropped along a suspension wire to percussion caps. In later models, nitroglycerin replaced gunpowder. Before the well torpedo’s invention, many early wells in the new oil regions of Pennsylvania, New York, and West Virginia often produced limited amounts of oil.

With its exclusive patent licenses, the Roberts Petroleum Torpedo Company charged up to $200 per torpedo “shoot” and a one-fifteenth royalty. Seeking to avoid the expense, unlicensed practitioners operated at night with their own explosive devices, reportedly leading to the term “moonlighter.”

Learn more in Shooters – A “Fracking” History.

April 26, 1947 – Oil Industry promoted on Radio

For the first time since its establishment in 1919, the American Petroleum Institute launched a national advertising campaign. “The theme of the drive is that the petroleum industry is a modern and progressive one, and is now turning out the best products in its history,” noted The Billboard

The Billboard magazine 1919 story about oil and gas industry radio advertising of API.

Founded in 1919 in New York City, API moved its headquarters to the nation’s capital in 1929.

“Radio this week struck real pay dirt as a ‘Gusher’ will come mainly from expansion of current air time on spot local or regional levels by the thousands of petroleum and related corporations,” proclaimed the weekly publication. API today is a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying organization representing major U.S. petroleum companies. It issues industrywide recommended practices, “to promote the use of safe equipment and proven engineering.”

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April 27, 1966 – Ariel Corporation founded

After receiving a degree in mechanical engineering in 1954, former eighth-grade teacher Jim Buchwald founded Ariel Corporation in Mount Vernon, Ohio. “With little money to pay for a facility to house the tools, a room in the basement of the Buchwald family home is cleaned up,” according to the Ariel website.

Buchwald bought a lathe, a small hand-cranked rotary table and a vertical drill for manufacturing valves. “This room becomes the first Ariel machine shop, with an adjoining room functioning as Ariel’s first official engineering department.”

Jim Buchwald with his Ariel Company prototype compressor.

Jim Buchwald with Ariel’s prototype compressor after it has completed a 10-hour run test. Photo courtesy Ariel.

By 1968, Buchwald had built a prototype gas compressor that ran at the unprecedented speed of 1,800 RPM. His Ohio machine shop soon transitioned into a manufacturing facility, and Buchwald named the company after his favorite 1948 Ariel motorcycle. His company has become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of reciprocating gas compressors.


Recommended Reading: The Osage Oil Boom (1989); The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power (1991); Historic Photos of Texas Oil (2012); The Maybelline Story: And the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It (2010); The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World (2015); Michigan Yesterday & Today (2009); The Seven Sisters: The great oil companies & the world (1975). Your Amazon purchase benefits the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. As an Amazon Associate, AOGHS earns a commission from qualifying purchases.


The American Oil & Gas Historical Society (AOGHS) preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS annual supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. Copyright © 2024 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

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