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 historian Floyd Hartman Jr. in “Birth of Coryville’s Tidewater Pipe Line.”

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, Glen 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 Glen Pool. By the time of statehood in 1907, Tulsa area oilfields made Oklahoma the biggest U.S. oil producing state.

Today, the oilfield benefits from enhanced recovery technologies to continue production. Glenpool residents celebrate their petroleum heritage with “Black Gold Days,” including the 41st annual festival held June 20-23, 2019, 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.

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. 

The America on the Move hall was designed to let visitors “travel back in time and experience transportation as it changed America,” explains the Smithsonian. The exhibits include 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.

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 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 just 20,521 feet). When mole-men emerged from the well,  townspeople feared an invasion, but Superman calmed the 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.

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. Modern LPG tankers carry almost 20 times the capacity of the company’s historic vessel.

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

Service stations had become part of America’s popular culture when Edward Hopper’s painting “Gas” was first exhibited by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Art critics praised Hopper’s work and suggested the painting with its 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.

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.

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November 28, 1892 – First Kansas Oil Well

While drilling for natural gas, William Mills found small amounts of oil in eastern Kansas. He took a sample from his Norman No. 1 well and visited more 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 oil museum. Just 832 feet deep, the well uncovered the vast Mid-Continent producing region, which eventually included 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.

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.

November 28, 1895 – Inventor Duryea wins First American 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 to a racing enthusiast who named the horseless vehicles “motocycles.” 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.”

Learn more in Cantankerous Combustion – 1st U.S. Auto Show.

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Recommended Reading:  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 © 2021 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

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