February 13, 1924 – Forest Oil adopts Yellow Dog Logo –
Forest Oil Company, founded in 1916 as an oilfield service company by Forest Dorn and his father Clayton, adopted a logo featuring the two-wicked “yellow dog” oilfield lantern. The logo included a keystone shape to symbolized the state of Pennsylvania, where Forest Oil pioneered water-flooding methods to improve production from the 85,000-acre Bradford oilfield.
Forest Oil Company‘s oilfield water-injection technology, later adopted throughout the petroleum industry, helped keep America’s first billion dollar oilfield producing to the present day. Patented in 1870, the popular derrick lamp’s name was said to come from the two burning wicks resembling a dog’s eyes glowing at night.
Learn more in Yellow Dog – Oilfield Lantern.
February 13, 1977 – Famous Texas Ranger “El Lobo Solo” dies
“El Lobo Solo” — The Lone Wolf — Texas Ranger Manuel T. Gonzaullas died at age 85 in Dallas. During much of the 1920s and 1930s, he had earned a reputation as a strict law enforcer in booming oil towns.
When Kilgore became “the most lawless town in Texas” after discovery of the East Texas oilfield in 1930, Gonzaullas was chosen to tame it. “Crime may expect no quarter in Kilgore,” the Texas Ranger once declared. He rode a black stallion named Tony and sported a pair of 1911 .45 Colts with his initials on the handles.
“He was a soft-spoken man and his trigger finger was slightly bent,” noted independent producer Watson W. Wise in 1985. “He always told me it was geared to that .45 of his.”
Learn more in Manuel “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas, Texas Ranger
February 15, 1982 – Deadly Atlantic Storm sinks Drilling Platform
With rogue waves reaching as high as 65 feet during an Atlantic cyclone, offshore drilling platform Ocean Ranger sank on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Canada, killing all 84 on board. At the time the world’s largest semi-submersible platform, the Ocean Ranger had been drilling a third well in the Hibernia oilfield for Mobil Oil of Canada.
The deadly weather system also engulfed a Soviet container ship 65 miles east of the platform, resulting in the loss of 32 crew members. Recommendations from the 1983 U.S. Coast Guard report would lead to improved emergency procedures, lifesaving equipment, and manning standards for other Offshore Mobil Drilling Unit (MODU) operations.
February 16, 1935 – Petroleum Producing States form Commission
A multi-state government agency that would become the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission was organized in Dallas with adoption of the “Interstate Compact to Preserve Oil and Gas.” Approved by Congress in August, the commission established its headquartered in Oklahoma City.
Representatives from Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas began planning initiatives, “to conserve oil and gas by the prevention of physical waste thereof from any cause.” Oklahoma Gov. Ernest W. Marland — founder of Marland Oil Company in 1921 — was elected first chairman.
“Faced with unregulated petroleum overproduction and the resulting waste, the states endorsed and Congress ratified a compact to take control of the issues,” according to IOGCC, which added the word gas to its name in 1991.
February 17, 1902 – Lufkin Industries founded in East Texas
The Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company was founded in Lufkin, Texas, as a repair shop for railroad and sawmill machinery. When the pine region’s timber supplies began to dwindle, the company discovered new opportunities in the burgeoning oilfields following the 1901 discovery at Spindletop Hill.
Inventor Walter C. Trout was working for this East Texas company in 1925 when he came up with a new idea for pumping oil. His design would become an oilfield icon known by many names — nodding donkey, grasshopper, horse-head, thirsty bird, and pump jack, among others.
By the end of 1925, a prototype of Trout’s pumping unit was installed on a Humble Oil and Refining Company well near Hull, Texas. “The well was perfectly balanced, but even with this result, it was such a funny looking, odd thing that it was subject to ridicule and criticism,” Trout explained.
Learn more in All Pumped Up – Oilfield Technology.
February 17, 1944 – H.L. Hunt discovers First Alabama Oilfield
Alabama’s first oilfield was discovered in Choctaw County when independent producer H.L. Hunt of Dallas, Texas, drilled the No. 1 Jackson well. Hunt’s 1944 wildcat well revealed the Gilbertown oilfield. Prior to this discovery, 350 dry holes had been drilled in the state.
According to research by petroleum geologist Ray Sorenson, an 1858 report first noted Alabama natural oil seeps about six miles from Oakville in Lawrence County (see Exploring Earliest Signs of Oil). Hunt’s discovery well was drilled in Choctaw County, where he revealed the Gilbertown oilfield at a depth of 3,700 feet.
Although it took 11 years for another oilfield discovery, new technologies and deeper wells in the late 1980s led to the prolific Little Cedar Creek and Brooklyn fields. By the mid-2000s, geologic assessments were underway for the potential of the shales of St. Clair and neighboring counties.
Learn more in First Alabama Oil Well.
February 19, 1863 – First Pipeline Attempt to link Oilfield to Refinery
With teamsters dominating oil transportation in Pennsylvania, independent producer J.L. Hutchings designed and constructed a pipeline to transport oil from a well on a farm at Oil Creek to a refinery 2.5 miles away. Hutchings had patented a rotary pump, which he used for moving the oil through two-inch piping from the Tarr Farm to the Humboldt Refinery at Oil City. His pumps worked, but the cast-iron pipeline proved impractical when the soldered joints leaked.
Hutchings’ concept of driving fluids with a rotary pump brought a key innovation for pipeline construction. In 1865, Samuel Van Syckel would construct a two-inch, wrought iron pipeline with threaded joints that could transport 2,000 barrels of oil a day more than five miles — the first practical oil pipeline.
Learn more about Pennsylvania’s oil production and transportation history by visiting the Drake Well Museum in Titusville.
Recommended Reading: Images of America: Around Bradford (1997); Lone Wolf Gonzaullas, Texas Ranger (1998); Lufkin, from sawdust to oil: A history of Lufkin Industries, Inc. (1982); Lost Worlds in Alabama Rocks: A Guide (2000); Petrolia: The Landscape of America’s First Oil Boom (2003). 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 2023 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.