May 8, 1918 – Shreveport Gassers go Extra Innings – 

As baseball became America’s favorite pastime, the Texas League’s Shreveport Gassers played 20 innings against the Fort Worth Panthers before the game was declared a tie. The Gassers were just one of many oilfield-related teams in the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, today known as Minor League Baseball.

Baseball! poster for Walter Johnson and Babe Ruth1924 exhibition game.

Former Olinda Oil Wells pitcher Walter Johnson joined Babe Ruth for a 1924 exhibition game at Brea, California.

At the time, the leagues’ 96 teams included the Okmulgee Drillers, the Tulsa Oilers, the Independence Producers, the Beaumont Exporters, the Corsicana Oil Citys, the Wichita Falls Spudders, and the Iola Gasbags. In Oklahoma oilfields, the Okmulgee Drillers for the first time in baseball history had two players who combined to hit 100 home runs in a single season of 160 games.

Learn more in Oilfields of Dreams.

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May 8, 1920 – Burbank Oilfield discovered in Oklahoma

Drilling for natural gas on an lease 20 miles from Ponca City, Oklahoma, the Kay County Gas Company found an oilfield instead. Marland Oil & Refining Company assumed control of the Bertha Hickman No. 1 well, which opened the 20,000-acre Burbank oilfield. With the region already booming since the Red Fork Gusher of 1901, independent producers would agree to using 10-acre well spacing for oil conservation purposes. Ernest W. Marland would serve as Oklahoma governor from 1935 to 1939.

May 9, 1863 – Confederate Cavalry raids Oilfield 

A brigade of Confederate cavalry attacked a thriving oil town near the Ohio River in what would soon become West Virginia. Confederate Gen. William “Grumble” Jones led the cavalry attack on Burning Springs oilfield storage facilities containing thousands of barrels of oil.

Map of West Virginia oil and gas Civil War Heritage District.

Rebels attacked the Burning Springs oilfield on the banks of the Little Kanawha River, just a few miles southeast of Parkersburg and the Ohio River. Heritage district map courtesy Oil & Gas Museum, Parkersburg, West Virginia.

The Confederate raid’s destruction and fire along the Kanawha River marked the first time an oilfield was targeted in war. About 1,300 Confederate troopers raided Burning Springs, destroying cable-tool drilling rigs and 150,000 barrels of oil.

Economic growth created by the early petroleum industry prior to the Civil War helped lead to statehood for West Virginia in June 1863. Almost a century earlier, George Washington had acquired 250 acres in the region because it contained natural oil seeps.

Learn more in Confederates attack Oilfield.

May 11, 1880 – Dresser patents Oil Well Device

Solomon R. Dresser of Bradford, Pennsylvania, patented a rubber “packer” for sealing downhole pressure in wells. The technology behind the patent (no. 227419) helped confine gas, “which enters the well from the lower rocks and utilize its force or pressure to expel the oil from the well.”

S.R. Dresser 1880 patent drawing for well packer.

Detail from Solomon R. Dresser 1880 patent for a rubber “packer” to seal downhole pressure in wells.

With the success of his Dresser Cap Packer in the Bradford oilfield, the inventor founded the S.R. Dresser Manufacturing Company in 1885. Within one year he would patent a widely adopted pipeline coupling method using rubber for tight seals, which permitted long-range transmission of natural gas.

After expanding into manufacturing oilfield pumps, engines and compressors, Dresser’s company went public in 1928, moving its headquarters to Dallas in 1950. Dresser Industries merged with oilfield supply rival Halliburton for about $7.7 billion in stock in 1998.

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 company, which began in Utah as a distributor of coal, grease, and kerosene. The Continental Oil Company merged with Ponca City-based Marland Oil Company in 1929. Phillips Petroleum Company of Bartlesville merged with Conoco in 2002.

petroleum history May 9

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

Frank and L.E. Phillips drilled 81 wells without a “dry hole” prior to establishing their company in 1917.  The Phillips Petroleum Company Museum preserves the their oil patch heritage, the history of high-octane gasoline, and the company’s thousands of U.S. patents, including for plastic products like Marlex. Frank Phillips served as president until 1938.

Learn more in ConocoPhillips Petroleum Museums.

May 14, 1906 – Louisiana Law conserves Natural Gas

Joining the growing number of natural gas producing states, Louisiana enacted conservation measures to prevent waste. Lawmakers passed “an Act to Protect the Natural Gas Fields of this State” that empowered the governor to use the state board of engineers “to close, cap, or plug offending wells” at the owner’s expense. The Act’s passage marked the beginning of legislative control of the state’s petroleum industry, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Expanded in 1910, the law imposed penalties for “failure to cap out of control wells, doing injury to pipe lines, or wastefully burning natural gas from any well into the air.”  Louisiana and other states sought to avoid the waste of natural gas that had depleted fields during the Indiana gas boom.

May 14, 1953 – Golden Driller debuts at Petroleum Exposition

A golden, 76-foot-tall statue of a roughneck appeared at the 30th annual International Petroleum Exposition in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Sponsored by the Mid-Continent Supply Company of Fort Worth, Texas, the oilfield worker would appear again for the 1959 expo.

Because of the roughneck’s popularity with the public, the company decided to refurbish and donated it to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds. Completely rebuilt in 1966, the “golden driller” would be refurbished several more times by 1980.

petroleum history May 9

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 Tulsa Historical Society.

Now a Tulsa tourist attraction, the mustard-shaded Golden Driller, weighing 43,500 pounds, stands among the largest freestanding statues in the world, according to city officials. Promotional t-shirts, ties, and scarfs have occasionally adorned the driller, and a Covid-19 mask was added temporary in 2020.

Learn more in Golden Driller of Tulsa.

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May 14, 2004 – Museum Opens in Oil City,  Louisiana

Louisiana’s first publicly funded museum dedicated to the petroleum industry opened in Oil City, about 20 miles north of Shreveport. The Louisiana State Oil and Gas Museum, originally called the Caddo-Pine Island Oil and Historical Museum, opened at a former 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 has since preserved the Caddo Parish oilfield discoveries, which began in 1905 and brought sustained economic prosperity to North Louisiana. Museum exhibits reveal the technologies behind a 1911 well drilled by Gulf Refining Company that was among the earliest “offshore” oil wells. The Ferry Lake No. 1,  completed on Caddo Lake, produced 450 barrels of oil per day from a depth of 2,185 feet.

Learn more in Louisiana Oil City Museum.


Recommended Reading: Textile League Baseball: South Carolina’s Mill Teams, 1880-1955 (2004); The Civil War and Northwestern Virginia (2004); Conoco: 125 Years of Energy (2000); Phillips, The First 66 Years (1983); Oil in Oklahoma (1976); Louisiana’s Oil Heritage, Images of America (2012). 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. Contact Copyright © 2023 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

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