May 24, 1902 – Earliest Oil & Gas Journal published – 

Holland Reavis founded the Oil Investors’ Journal In Beaumont, Texas. Early articles focused on financial issues facing operators and investors in the booming oilfield discovered the year before by the “Lucas Gusher” at Spindletop Hill.

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Norman Rockwell illustrated a 1962 ad promoting the Oil and Gas Journal.

In 1910, Patrick Boyle acquired the Oil Investors’ Journal. The former oilfield scout and publisher of the Oil City (Pennsylvania) Derrick newspaper renamed his newly purchased magazine the Oil & Gas Journal. Boyle changed it to a weekly and expanded coverage to all petroleum industry operations.

The Tulsa-based PennWell Corporation now publishes the Oil & Gas JournalThe Derrick newspaper continues to be printed in Oil City, where it has been published by the Boyle family since 1885.

May 24, 1920 – Huntington Beach Oilfield discovered in California

A Standard Oil Company well discovered the Huntington Beach oilfield. The beach town’s population grew from 1,500 to 5,000 within a month of the well drilled near Clay Avenue and Golden West Street. By November 1921 the field had 59 producing wells with daily production of 16,500 barrels of oil. Development activities and speculators drew national attention to this expansion of the Los Angeles oilfield

Rows of oil derrick stretch into the distance on Huntington Beach, California, in 1926.

Pictured here in 1926, the Huntington Beach field will produce more than one billion barrels of oil by 2000. Discovery Well Park today includes six acres with playgrounds. Photo courtesy Orange County Archives.

Huntington Beach produced more than 16 million barrels of oil in 1964, according to a 1991 article in the Orange County Register. “But as oil production peaked, the pressure of explosive population growth began pushing the wells off land that had become more valuable as sites for housing.”

May 26, 1891 – Patent will lead to Crayola Crayons

Crayola crayons began when Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith received a patent for their “Apparatus for the Manufacture of Carbon Black.” Their refining process produced a fine, intensely black soot-like substance — a pigment far better than any other at the time.

Petroleum product STAONAL, black marker crayons.

Petroleum products like carbon-black and paraffin in 1903 led to Crayola crayons and its classic marking product, Staonal. Photo courtesy Crayola.

The company mixed carbon black with oilfield paraffin to introduce a black crayon marker promoted as able to “stay on all” and accordingly named Staonal. In 1903, Binney & Smith Company began producing Crayola crayons in small batches of hand-mixed pigments and paraffin. The box included eight colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown and black.

Learn more in Carbon Black and Oilfield Crayons.

May 26, 1934 – Diesel-Electric Power sets Speed Record

A new diesel-electric “streamliner,” the Burlington Zephyr, pulled into Chicago’s Century of Progress exhibition after a nonstop 13 hour “dawn to dusk” run from Denver. The trip cut traditional steam locomotive times by half.

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Chicago World’s Fair visitors admire the stainless steel Burlington Zephyr, which helped save America’s railroad passenger industry. Two-stroke diesel-electric engines provided a four-fold power to weight gain. Photo from a Burlington Route Railroad 1934 postcard.

Powered by a single, eight-cylinder diesel engine, the passenger train traveled 1,015 miles on its record-breaking run. The Zephyr burned just $16.72 worth of diesel fuel. The same distance for a coal-burning train would have cost $255. It had been just 60 years since steam locomotives and the transcontinental railroad linked America’s coasts. 

Newspaper 1934 headline of record setting Zephyr train.

Zephyr’s engine used only $16.72 in diesel fuel.

The new diesel-electric engine technology had resulted from the U.S. Navy seeking a lighter weight, more powerful engine for its submarine fleet. Learn more in Adding Wings to the Iron Horse.

May 27, 1893 – Oklahoma Historical Society founded

Fourteen years before Oklahoma became a state, the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) was organized during the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Territorial Press Association in Kingfisher. It was founded to collect and distribute newspapers published in the territory. Today, the society administers historic homes, military sites, and community museums, including the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.

May 27, 1933 – Sinclair Dinosaur Debut at Chicago World’s Fair

Sinclair Oil’s Brontosaurus (more correctly, Apatosaurus) appeared for the first time during the 1933-1934 Century of Progress International Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair. Founded in 1916 as Sinclair Oil and Refining Company by Harry Sinclair, the company use dinosaurs to create hugely successful national marketing campaigns.

First Sinclair Brontosaurus at Chicago 1933 “Century of Progress” World’s Fair.

The first Sinclair “Brontosaurus” trademark made its debut in Chicago during the 1933 “Century of Progress” World’s Fair.

“Dino” and his prehistoric companions proved so popular the company recreated its dinosaurs for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition and the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Refurbished, Sinclair Oil’s green giant returned to New York for another world’s fair in 1964-65 before touring shopping malls across America.

May 28, 1923 – “Oil Well of the Century” taps Permian Basin in West Texas

It took 646 days of difficult cable-tool drilling before a well near Big Lake, Texas, proved there was oil on University of Texas land in the Permian Basin. The arid region in Reagan County was once thought to be worthless, but the Santa Rita No. 1 well discovered an oilfield that helped reveal the Permian Basin’s vast petroleum potential.

Santa Rita oil well walking beam equipment exhibit at University of Texas campus.

The University of Texas moved the Santa Rita No. 1 well’s walking beam and other equipment to the Austin campus in 1958. Photo by Bruce Wells.

Named for the patron saint of the impossible, the Santa Rita well produced oil for the next seven decades, and the University of Texas received $4 million in royalties within three years of the discovery by Texon Oil and Land Company. The student newspaper described the well “as one that made the difference between pine-shack classrooms and modern buildings.” The Santa Rita No. 1 well was named “Oil Well of the Century” in 1999 by Texas Monthly.

Learn more in Santa Rita taps Permian Basin.

May 29, 1940 – Nebraska’s First Oil Well

After more than a half century of dry holes, Nebraska’s first commercial oil well was completed near Falls City in the southeastern corner of the state. Eager to join other states benefiting from revenue gained from oil, Nebraska lawmakers had offered a $15,000 bonus for the first well to produce 50 barrels of oil daily for two months.

Most Nebraska oil production comes from these southwestern counties.

Although Nebraska oil production began in 1940 in Richardson County in the southeastern corner of the state, most production would come from western counties.

Pawnee Royalty Company completed the Bucholz No. 1 discovery well with production of about 170 barrels of oil a day in its first 60 days. The well was about five miles east of a “vein of petroleum” first reported by geologists in 1883.

Learn more in First Nebraska Oil Well.

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May 30, 1911 – First Indianapolis 500 takes Seven Hours

The first Indianapolis 500-mile race began with 40 cars; only 12 finished the 1911 test of endurance and automotive technology. The winner averaged almost 75 mph after about about seven hours of racing.

Race cars in clouds of dust at first Indy 500 mile race in 1911.

All of the cars except the winner had a mechanic to manually pump oil. More than 60,000 watched the first race.

All the cars except the winning No. 32 Marmon Wasp had two seats since most drivers traveled with “riding mechanics,” who manually pumped oil. Ray Harroun, driver of the winning Wasp, would also develop a kerosene carburetor.

“Let the fuel people fight it out amongst themselves, I’ll have a car soon that will burn anything they send,” he declared. A decade before the first Indianapolis 500, gasoline powered less than 1,000 of the 4,200 U.S. cars sold. Learn more in Cantankerous Combustion – 1st U.S. Auto Show 

May 30, 1987 – Million Barrel Museum opens in Monahans, Texas

The Million Barrel Museum opened on a 14.5-acre site in Monahans, Texas. The museum’s main attraction is a large elliptical oil storage tank built in 1928 to store Permian Basin oil.

Million Barrel Museum’s 525 foot by 422 foot concrete oil tank foundation in Monahans, Texas.

The Monahans Million Barrel Museum’s 525 foot by 422 foot concrete foundation once included a wooden roof. The structure, built to store Permian Basin oil in 1928, became a Monahans water park for one day in 1958.

The experimental concrete tank — 525 feet by 422 feet — was designed to hold more than a million barrels of oil. The highly productive West Texas region lacked oil pipelines. The tank’s 30 foot earthen walls sloped at a 45-degree angle and were covered in concrete. It included a roof made of California redwood.

Repeated efforts could not stop oil from leaking at seams. Shell eventually abandoned the giant structure, which would be patched to briefly become a water park in the 1950s…until it leaked again.

Learn more in Million Barrel Museum.

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Recommended Reading:  Huntington Beach, California, Postcard History Series (2009); Crayola Creators: Edward Binney and C. Harold Smith, Toy Trailblazers (2016); Burlington’s Zephyrs, Great Passenger Trains (2004); Santa Rita: The University of Texas Oil Discovery (1958); Blood and Smoke: A True Tale of Mystery, Mayhem and the Birth of the Indy 500 (2012); Chronicles of an Oil Boom: Unlocking the Permian Basin (2014). Your Amazon purchase benefits the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. As an Amazon Associate, AOGHS earns a commission from qualifying purchases.

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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 bawells@aoghs.org. Copyright © 2021 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

 

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