This Week in Petroleum History, November 20 to November 26
November 20, 1930 – Hilton expands in Texas, Thanks to Oil
After buying his first motel in the booming oil town of Cisco, Texas, Conrad Hilton opened a high-rise hotel in El Paso. While visiting Cisco in 1919, Hilton had witnessed roughnecks from the Ranger oilfield waiting for rooms. Hilton’s first hotel, the Mobley, had 40 rooms he rented for eight-hour periods to coincide with workers’ shifts. Although the famous “Roaring Ranger” oilfield was eventually exhausted, Hilton was firmly established in the Texas hotel business.
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. Within a month of the new company’s founding, John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of New York purchased most of Magnolia Petroleum’s assets and operated it as a subsidiary.
Magnolia Oil Company merged with Socony Mobile Oil Company in 1959. The companies adopted a red Pegasus logo, which replaced the magnolia logo at gas stations (see Mobil’s High-Flying Trademark). Magnolia Petroleum ultimately became part of ExxonMobil.
November 22, 1905 – Giant Glenn Pool Field discovered
“November 22, 1905 was a moment that forever changed Oklahoma and the American oil industry,” notes one historian.
Two years before Oklahoma statehood, the the Glenn Pool (or Glen Pool) 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, founder the Sinclair Oil and Refining Company, and J. Paul Getty, got their start during the Glenn Pool boom. With daily production soon exceeding 120,000 barrels, Glen Pool exceeded Tulsa County’s earlier Red Fork Gusher. The oilfield even exceeded the Spindletop Hill discovery in Texas four years earlier.
The Ida Glenn No. 1 well was named for the Creek Indian woman from whom oilmen had leased 160 acres. The well, almost 1,500 feet deep, led to many more prolific wells in the 12-square-mile Glen Pool.
By the time of statehood in 1907, Tulsa area oilfields made Oklahoma America’s biggest petroleum producing state. The field today uses enhanced recovery technologies to continue production. A special derrick monument was unveiled in Black Gold Park in 2008. Today, the community of Glenn Pool annually celebrates its petroleum heritage by hosting a Black Gold Days festival.
November 22, 2003 – Smithsonian Museum opens Transportation Hall
A new, 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. A 199-ton locomotive welcomed visitors to the hall.
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 a wing to drilling rigs, pipelines, and pump jacks.
November 23, 1951 – First Superman Movie features “World’s Deepest Oil Well”
Public fear of the risk of drilling too deep highlighted the theatrical release of “Superman and the Mole Men.” The 1951 movie featured a fictional town that was “Home of the World’s Deepest Oil Well,” where an experimental well drilled “into clear air” at 32,742 feet 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 townspeople feared an invasion, 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 in 1947. Warren Petroleum Corporation of Tulsa, Oklahoma, sent the one-of-a-kind Natalie O. Warren from the Houston Ship Channel terminal to Newark, New Jersey.
The vessel had an LPG capacity of 38,053 barrels in 68 vertical pressure tanks. The 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. Today’s LPG tankers carry more than 18 times the capacity of the historic first 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.
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.
Recommended Reading: Be My Guest (1957); Magnolia Oil News Magazine (January 1930); Glenn Pool…and a little oil town of yesteryear (1978); The American Highway: The History and Culture of Roads in the United States (2000); History Of Oil Well Drilling (2007); Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century (2015); CONOCO: The First One Hundred Years Building on the Past for the Future (1975).
Listen online to Remember When Wednesdays on the weekday morning radio show Exploring Energy from 9:05 a.m to 10 a.m. (Eastern Time). Executive Director Bruce Wells calls in on the last Wednesday of each month. AOGHS welcomes sponsors to maintain this website and preserve U.S. petroleum heritage. Please support our energy education mission with a tax-deductible donation today. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on levels and types of sponsorships. © 2017 Bruce A. Wells.