November 21, 1925 – Magnolia Petroleum incorporates – 

Formerly an unincorporated joint-stock association with roots dating to an 1889 refinery in Corsicana, Texas, Magnolia Petroleum Company incorporated. The original association had sold many grades of refined petroleum products through more than 500 service stations in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Magnolene Motor Oils logo for Magnolia Petroleum Company gas stations

Magnolia Petroleum operated gas stations throughout the Southeast.

Within a month of the new company’s founding, John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of New York (Socony) purchased most of Magnolia Petroleum’s assets and operated it as a subsidiary. Magnolia Oil Company merged with the Socony Mobile Oil Company in 1959 and adopted the red Pegasus logo, which replaced the magnolia logo at gas stations (see Mobil’s High-Flying Trademark). Magnolia Petroleum assets were part of 1999 merger that created today’s ExxonMobil.

November 21, 1980 – Millions watch “Dallas” Episode Who shot J.R

The cliffhanger episode “Who shot J.R.?” on the prime-time soap opera “Dallas” was watched by 83 million people in the United States and 350 million worldwide, according to History.com. The CBS show, which debuted in 1978, revolved around two Texas oil families and featured Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing, “the character fans loved to hate.” His portrayal of a “greedy, conniving, womanizing scoundrel” and the business dealings of Ewing Oil Company would stereotype the Texas petroleum industry for 14 seasons.

November 22, 1878 –  Tidewater Pipe Company established

Byron Benson organized the Tidewater Pipe Company in Pennsylvania. In 1879 his company would build the first oil pipeline to cross the Alleghenies from Coryville to the Philadelphia Reading Railroad 109 miles away in Williamsport. This technological achievement was considered by many as the first true oil pipeline in America, if not the world.

Illustration of workers and pipes for the 109-mile Tidewater oil pipeline in 1898.

Despite protests from teamsters, a 109-mile oil pipeline revolutionized oil transportation. Photo courtesy explorepahistory.com.

The difficult work — much of it done in winter using sleds to move pipe sections — bypassed Standard Oil Company’s dominance in transporting petroleum. Tidewater made an arrangement with Reading Railroad to haul the oil in tank cars to Philadelphia and New York. In 1879, about 250 barrels of oil from the Bradford field was pumped across the mountains and into Williamsport.

More than 80 percent of America’s oil soon would come from Pennsylvania oilfields, according to Floyd Hartman Jr. in a 2009 article, “Birth of Coryville’s Tidewater Pipe Line.”

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November 22, 1905 – Glenn Pool Field discovered in Indian Territory

Two years before Oklahoma statehood, the Glenn Pool (or Glenpool) oilfield was discovered in the Creek Indian Reservation south of Tulsa. The greatest oilfield in America at the time, it would help make Tulsa the “Oil Capital of the World.” Many prominent oil producers, including Harry Sinclair and J. Paul Getty, got their start during the Glenn Pool boom.

Oil derrick monument in Glenpool, Oklahoma.

An oilfield pioneers monument was dedicated in April 2008 at Glenpool, Oklahoma. Photo by Bruce Wells.

With production exceeding 120,000 barrels of oil a day, Glenn Pool exceeded Tulsa County’s earlier Red Fork GusherThe giant oilfield even exceeded production from Spindletop Hill in Texas four years earlier. The Ida Glenn No. 1 well, drilled to about 1,500 feet deep, led to more prolific wells in the 12-square-mile Glenn Pool.

By the time of statehood in 1907, Tulsa area oilfields made Oklahoma the biggest U.S. oil producing state. Advances in enhanced recovery technologies later added to the region’s productivity. Glenpool residents proudly celebrate their petroleum heritage with “Black Gold Days;” the 44th annual festival took place October 20-23, 2022, in Black Gold Park.

November 22, 2003 – Smithsonian Museum opens Transportation Hall

A permanent exhibit about U.S. transportation history opened at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. “Get your kicks on 40 feet of Route 66,” the Smithsonian exhibit noted on opening day of the $22 million renovation of the museum’s Hall of Transportation.

Route 66 exhibit in Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Photo by Bruce Wells.

Opened in 2003 after a $22 million renovation, the Transportation Hall of the National Museum of American History exhibits 340 historic objects in 26,000 square feet. Photo by Bruce Wells.

The hall was designed to let visitors “travel back in time and experience transportation as it changed America.” Opening day exhibits included 340 objects and 19 historic settings in chronological order. At the same museum in 1967, the Smithsonian’s “Hall of Petroleum” devoted an entire wing to drilling rigs, pipelines, and pump jacks.

Learn more in America on the Move.

November 23, 1951 – Superman and the World’s Deepest Oil Well 

Public fear of the risk of drilling wells too deep highlighted the theatrical release of Superman’s first feature length movie, “Superman and the Mole Men.” The 1951 plot unfolded in the fictional town of Silsbey, “Home of the World’s Deepest Oil Well,” after an experimental well’s drill bit had “broken into clear air” at a depth of 32,742 feet.

Superman and the Mole Men poster with oil well.

Mole men emerge from an experimental oil well drilled more than six miles deep.

“Good heavens, that’s practically to the center of the earth!” exclaimed Lois Lane (in fact, the deepest U.S. well in 1951 reached 20,521 feet). When mole-men emerged from the well, townspeople feared an invasion. Superman would calm an angry mob.  At the end of the movie, the well ignited in flames, forever closing the connection between the two worlds.

Learn about a real six-mile-deep well in Anadarko Basin in Depth.

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November 23, 1947 – World’s First LPG Ship

The first U.S. seagoing Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) ship went into service as Warren Petroleum Corporation of Tulsa, Oklahoma, sent the Natalie O. Warren from the Houston Ship Channel to Newark, New Jersey. The vessel had an LPG capacity of 38,053 barrels in 68 vertical pressure tanks.

first U.S. seagoing Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) ship.

The first vessel had an LPG capacity of 38,053 barrels in 68 vertical pressure tanks.

The one-of-a-kind ship was the former Cape Diamond dry-cargo freighter, converted by the Bethlehem Steelyard in Beaumont, Texas. The experimental design would lead to new maritime construction standards for such vessels. Warren Petroleum was the largest producer and marketer of natural gasoline and propane in the world by the early 1950s, according to an exhibit at the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum. LPG tankers today carry 20 times the capacity of the early vessels.

November 25, 1875 – Continental Oil brings Kerosene to the West

Convinced that he could profit by purchasing bulk kerosene in cheaper eastern markets, Isaac Blake formed the Continental Oil and Transportation Company. He soon transported Ohio kerosene to Ogden, Utah, for distribution.

petroleum history november

Conoco began in 1875 as Continental Oil, delivering kerosene to retail stores in Ogden, Utah.

Continental purchased two railroad tank cars — the first to be used west of the Mississippi River — and began shipping kerosene from a Cleveland refinery. The company grew, expanding into Colorado in 1876 and California in 1877. Standard Oil Company absorbed Continental Oil in 1885.

Following the 1911 breakup of Standard, Continental Oil reemerged as Conoco; it became ConocoPhillips in 2002. Learn more in ConocoPhillips Petroleum Museums.

November 27, 1940 – Art Museum features Painting of Mobilgas Station

With petroleum company service stations already part of America’s popular culture, Edward Hopper’s painting “Gas” was first exhibited by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Art critics praised the work, suggesting the painting with the Pegasus sign anticipated the modern Pop Art movement by more than a decade.

Edward Hopper oil on canvas painting "Gas."

Edward Hopper (1882-1967) oil on canvas painting “Gas” of 1940. Museum of Modern Art, New York.

According to Hopper’s wife, the image of a Mobilgas station at the end of a highway was an amalgamation of several gas stations near their home in Truro, Massachusetts. The painting is owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

See other examples of petroleum’s artistic influence in Oil In Art.

November 27, 1941 – “Oil Queen of California” dies

Mrs. Emma Summers, once known as the “Oil Queen of California” died at the age of 83 in Los Angeles. Forty years earlier, the San Francisco Call newspaper described Mrs. Summers as “A woman with a genius for affairs — it may sound paradoxical, but the fact exists. if Mrs. Emma A. Summers were less than a genius she could not, as she does today, control the Los Angeles oil markets.”

California Oil Queens featured in newspaper in early 1900s.

Newspapers featured Emma Summers as she succeeded in the fiercely competitive Los Angeles oilfields of the early 1900s.

Summers graduated from Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music and moved to Los Angeles in 1893 to teach piano — but soon caught oil fever. With her home not far from where Edward Doheny had discovered the Los Angeles City field just a year before, Summers invested $700 for half interest in a well just a few blocks from Doheny’s. Summers’ first 14 wells produced oil, helping launch her dominance in the Los Angeles City oilfield.

Learn more about this remarkable woman in Oil Queen of California.

November 27, 1923 – Standard Oil registers “Esso” Trademark

The Standard Oil Company of New Jersey registered the “Esso” trademark, which had been in use since May 1923 for refined, semi-refined, and unrefined petroleum products. The name was a phonetic spelling of the abbreviation “S.O.” for Standard Oil.

A young Theodore Geisell created many Essolube ads beginning in the 1930s (see Seuss I am, an Oilman). When Standard Oil renamed itself Exxon in 1973, the company adopted the Exxon trademark nationwide. The Esso name, acquired by BP through various mergers, has remained in use in other countries.

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November 28, 1895 – Inventor Duryea wins First U.S. Auto Race

Six of America’s first “motor cars” left Chicago’s Jackson Park for a 54-mile race to Evanston, Illinois, and back through the snow. Inventor J. Frank Duryea received $2,000 for winning the first U.S. auto race. His No. 5 automobile took just over 10 hours at an average speed of about 7.3 mph.

J. Frank Duryea in his gas-powered automobile.

J. Frank Duryea and his brother Charles invented America’s first gas-powered automobile. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

The Chicago Times-Herald, sponsor of the race, also awarded $500 for a racing enthusiast’s “motocycle.” The newspaper added: “Persons who are inclined to decry the development of the horseless carriage will be forced to recognize it as an admitted mechanical achievement, highly adapted to some of the most urgent needs of our civilization.” Within five years, New York City would host the first U.S. auto show.

November 28, 1892 – First Kansas Oil Well

While drilling for natural gas, William Mills discovered small amounts of oil in eastern Kansas. He took a sample from his Norman No. 1 well and visited experienced oil drillers in Pennsylvania. Impressed, they convinced him to “shoot” the well at Neodesha with 30 quarts of nitroglycerine.

Rare photo of 1897 Standard Oil refinery in Neodesha, Kansas.

A rare photograph of the 1897 Standard Oil refinery in Neodesha, Kansas, the first to process oil from the Mid-Continent field. Photo courtesy Kansas Historical Society.

The Kansas discovery well would later be called the first oil commercial discovery west of the Mississippi River. “It proved that Neodesha had the riches of oil and gas in their back yard,” according to Neodesha’s Norman No. 1 Historic Oil Well and Museum.

Just 832 feet deep, the discovery well uncovered the vast Mid-Continent producing region, eventually including five states. Abandoned in 1919, the discovery well was neglected until 1961, when a replica 67-foot wooden derrick was erected on the site as a memorial.

Learn more in First Kansas Oil Well.

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Recommended Reading: Magnolia Oil News Magazine (January 1930); Oil and Gas Pipeline Fundamentals (1993); Glenn Pool…and a little oil town of yesteryear (1978); The American Highway: The History and Culture of Roads in the United States (2000);Los Angeles, California, Images of America (2001);The fire in the rock: A history of the oil and gas industry in Kansas, 1855-1976 (1976); America’s First Automobile: The First Complete Account By Mr. J. Frank Duryea Of How He Developed The First American Automobile, 1892-1893 (2012). 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 annual supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. Copyright © 2022 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

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