May 12, 2007 – Oil and Gas Museums open in Oklahoma – 

ConocoPhillips opened two petroleum museums on the same day in Ponca City and Bartlesville as part of the 2007 Oklahoma statehood centennial celebrations.

Exhibits at the Conoco Museum In Ponca City educate visitors about the exploration, production and history of the company, which began in Utah as a small distributor of coal, grease, and kerosene. Conoco merged with Oklahoma’s Marland Oil Company in 1929. Phillips Petroleum incorporated in 1917 and merged with Conoco in 2002.

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Conoco, founded in 1875 as the Continental Oil and Transportation Company, delivered kerosene to retail stores in Ogden, Utah. A circa 1880s horse-drawn tank wagon today welcomes visitors to the Conoco Museum. Photo by Bruce Wells.

The Phillips Petroleum Company Museum includes exhibits describing the development of high-octane gasoline and revolutionary plastic products like Marlex (see Petroleum Product Hoopla). In addition to exhibiting oilfield technologies, the Bartlesville museum tells the story of Frank and L.E. Phillips. Beginning in 1905, the brothers drilled 81 wells without a single “dry hole.” Frank Phillips served as president of the company until 1938. Learn more in ConocoPhillips Petroleum Museums.

May 14, 1953 – Golden Driller Statue debuts at Petroleum Exposition

The “Golden Driller” first appeared at the International Petroleum Exposition in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Sponsored by the Mid-Continent Supply Company of Fort Worth, Texas, the giant was temporarily erected again for the 1959 petroleum expo. The 76-foot-tall roughneck attracted so much attention the company refurbished and donated him to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds. Completely rebuilt in 1966, the statue was refurbished several times since the late 1970s.

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The original Golden Driller of 1953, left, proved so popular that a more permanent version (supported with steel rods) returned for the 1966 Petroleum Expo. Photos courtesy the Tulsa Historical Society.

Today a Tulsa tourist attraction, the mustard-shaded Golden Driller, weighing 43,500 pounds, stands among the world’s largest freestanding statues in the world, according to city officials. Ties and scarfs occasionally have adorned him, and a temporary Covid-19 mask was added in 2020. Learn more in Golden Driller of Tulsa.

May 14, 2004 – Louisiana State Oil and Gas Museum Opens in Oil City

Louisiana’s first publicly funded museum dedicated to the petroleum industry opened 20 miles north of Shreveport. The Louisiana State Oil and Gas Museum, originally the Caddo-Pine Island Oil and Historical Museum, includes the historic depot of the Kansas City Southern Railroad.

Drilling rig at the Louisiana State Oil Museum in Oil City.

Chevron drilling rig at Louisiana State Oil Museum in Oil City. Photo by Bruce Wells.

The museum preserves the Caddo Parish discoveries, which began in 1905, and the economic prosperity brought by the North Louisiana petroleum boom. Exhibits reveal the technologies behind a 1911 well – the Ferry No. 1 – one of the nation’s earliest “offshore” oil wells completed on nearby Caddo Lake, where production continues today. Learn more in Louisiana Oil City Museum.

May 15, 1911 – Supreme Court orders Standard Oil Breakup

After reviewing 12,000 pages of court documents, Chief Justice Edward White issued the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority opinion that mandated dissolution of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. The ruling, which broke Standard Oil into 34 separate companies, upheld an earlier Circuit Court decision that the John D. Rockefeller company’s practices violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. Five years earlier, President Theodore Roosevelt’s Justice Department had launched 44 anti-trust suits against railroad, beef, tobacco, and other trusts.

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May 16, 1934 – National Stripper Well Association established

The National Stripper Well Association (NSWA) organized in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to represent operators of stripper wells — marginal wells that produce less than 15 barrels of oil a day or less than 90 thousand cubic feet (Mcf) of natural gas a day. According to NSWA, 72.4 percent of all operating wells in the U.S. in 2016 were marginal producers; the estimated 777,000 marginally producing wells (396,000 oil and 381,000 natural gas wells) contributed almost 19 percent to U.S. oil and natural gas production.

May 16, 1961 – Museum opens over Natural Gas Field 

In southwestern Kansas, the Stevens County Gas & Historical Museum in Hugoton opened in 1961 above a giant natural gas producing area that extended 8,500 square miles into the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles.

The natural gas museum in Hugoton, Kansas.

A small Stevens County natural gas museum in Hugoton, Kansas, preserves the history of a gas field that extends into two other states.

The small museum in Hugoton today educates visitors about one of the largest natural gas fields in North America – the Hugoton field. A natural gas well drilled in 1945 is still producing at the museum. Learn more in Natural Gas Museum.

Although the giant Hugoton field’s once dominant natural gas production gave way to new gas shale regions, including production from Fayetteville, Arkansas, (2004) and Haynesville, Louisiana (2008), the Hugoton-Panhandle gas continues to be the world’s largest source of helium.


Recommended Reading: Conoco: 125 Years of Energy (2000); Phillips, The First 66 Years (1983); Oil in Oklahoma (1976); Early Days of Oil: A Pictorial History of the Beginnings of the Industry in Pennsylvania (2000). 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 supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact Copyright © 2021 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.


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