April 9, 1914 – Ohio Cities Gas Company founded – 

Beman Dawes and Fletcher Heath organized the Ohio Cities Gas Company in Columbus, Ohio, before building an oil refinery in West Virginia. Ohio Cities Gas acquired Pennsylvania-based Pure Oil Company in 1917 and adopted that name three years later. Pure Oil had been founded in Pittsburgh in 1895 by independent oil producers, refiners, and pipeline operators to counter the market dominance of Standard Oil Company.

Pure Oil company logo. Company began in 1917.

Ohio Cities Gas Company became Pure Oil in 1917.

By producing, refining and selling its products, Pure Oil became the second vertically integrated petroleum company after Standard Oil. Headquartered in a now iconic Chicago skyscraper it built in 1926, the company joined the 100 largest U.S. industrial corporations. It was acquired in 1965 by Union Oil Company of California, now a division of Chevron.

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April 9, 1966 – Birthday of Tula’s Golden Driller

A 76-foot statue of an oilfield worker today known as “The Golden Driller” made its debut at the International Petroleum Exposition in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After several refurbishments, the 22-ton statue would contain 2.5 miles of rods and mesh with tons of plaster and concrete — withstanding winds up to 200 mph. A smaller version of Tulsa’s iconic roughneck originally appeared at the 1953 petroleum exposition as a promotion for the Mid-Continent Supply Company of Fort Worth, Texas.

April 10, 1866 – Densmore Brothers patent Railroad Oil Tank Car

James and Amos Densmore of Meadville, Pennsylvania, received a patent for their “Improved Car for Transporting Petroleum,” developed a year earlier in the northwestern Pennsylvania oil regions. Their patent illustrated a simple but sturdy design for securing two re-enforced containers on a typical railroad car.

Patent drawing of Densmore Oil Tank Car that briefly revolutionized transportation of oil.

The Densmore oil tank car briefly revolutionized the bulk transportation of oil to market. Hundreds of the twin tank railroad cars were in use by 1866.

Although the Densmore cars were an improvement, they would be replaced by the more practical single, horizontal tank. After leaving the business, Amos Densmore in 1875 invented a new way for arranging “type writing machines” so commonly used letters would no longer collide — the “Q-W-E-R-T-Y” keyboard. James Densmore’s continued success in oilfields helped finance the start of the Densmore Typewriter Company.

Learn more in Densmore Brothers invent First Oil Tank Car.

April 11, 1957 – Oklahoma Independent William Skelly dies

William Grove Skelly (1878 -1957) died in Tulsa after a long career as an independent producer that he began as a 15-year-old tool dresser in early Pennsylvania oilfields. Prior to World War I, he found success in the El Dorado field outside Wichita, Kansas. Skelly incorporated Skelly Oil Company in Tulsa in 1919. Four years later, he established the International Petroleum Exposition while serving as president of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce. Skelly also helped establish the first FM radio station in Oklahoma, KWGS, in 1947.

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April 13, 1974 – Depth Record set in Oklahoma Anadarko Basin

After drilling for 504 days and costing about $7 million, the Bertha Rogers No. 1 well reached a total depth of 31,441 feet (5.95 miles) before being stopped by liquid sulfur. Drilled in the heart of Oklahoma’s Anadarko Basin, it was the deepest well in the world for more than a decade.

Robert Hefner III’s GHK Company and partner Lone Star Producing Company believed natural gas reserves resided deep in the basin, which extends across West-Central Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. Their first attempt began in 1967 and took two years to reach what at the time was a record depth of 24,473 feet.

A 1974 souvenir plaque of the Bertha Rogers No. 1 World's Deepest Well.

A 1974 souvenir plaque of the Bertha Rogers No. 1 well, which reached almost six miles deep in Oklahoma’s Anadarko Basin.

The high-tech well found plenty of natural gas, according to historian Robert Dorman, but because of federal price controls at the time, “the sale of the gas could not cover the high cost of drilling so deeply – $6.5 million, as opposed to a few hundred thousand dollars for a conventional well.”

Drilling began in November 1972 and averaged about 60 feet per day. By April 1974, bottom-hole pressure reached almost 25,000 pounds per square inch with a temperature of 475 degrees. It took eight hours for cuttings to reach the surface. The well’s 1.5 million pounds of casing was the heaviest ever handled by any drilling rig.

Learn more in Anadarko Basin in Depth.

April 14, 1865 – Dramatic Oil Company’s Failed Oilman turns Assassin

After failing to make his fortune in Pennsylvania oilfields, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C. One year earlier, Booth had left his acting career to drill an oil well in booming Venango County.

In January 1864, Booth visited Franklin, Pennsylvania, where he leased 3.5 acres on a farm, about one mile south of the village of Franklin and on the east side of the Allegheny River. With several partners, including his friends from the stage, Booth formed the Dramatic Oil Company and raised money to drill a well.

John Wilkes Booth oil well map near Titusville, PA, and portrait.

John Wilkes Booth made his first trip to the oil boom town of Franklin, Pennsylvania, in January 1864. He purchased a 3.5-acre lease on the Fuller farm (lower left). Circa 1865 photo of Booth by Alexander Gardner, courtesy Library of Congress.

Although the Dramatic Oil Company’s well found oil and began producing about 25 barrels a day, Booth and his partners wanted more and tried “shooting” the well to increase production. When the well was ruined, the failed oilman left the Pennsylvania oil region for good in July 1864.

Learn more in Dramatic Oil Company.

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Recommended Reading: The American Railroad Freight Car (1995); Story of the Typewriter, 1873-1923 (2019); Tulsa Oil Capital of the World, Images of America (2004); Oil in Oklahoma (1976); Myth, Legend, Reality: Edwin Laurentine Drake and the Early Oil Industry (2009). 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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