September 21, 1901 – First Louisiana Oil Well –

Nine months after the headline-making January 1901 “Lucas Gusher” in Texas, another giant oilfield was revealed 90 miles east in Louisiana. W. Scott Heywood — already successful thanks to wells drilled at Spindletop Hill — completed a well that produced 7,000 barrels of oil a day well on the farm of Jules Clement.

Drilled six miles northeast of Jennings, the Clement No. 1 found oil at a depth of 1,700 feet. “The well flowed sand and oil for seven hours and covered Clement’s rice field with a lake of oil and sand, ruining several acres of rice,” noted the Jennings Daily News.

Dedication of Scott Heywood first Louisiana oil well historical marker from1951.

Mrs. Scott Heywood unveiled a marker as part of the Louisiana Golden Oil Jubilee in 1951. Times Picayune (New Orleans) image courtesy Calcasieu Parish Public Library.

The discovery led to the state’s first commercial oil production by opening the prolific Jennings field, which Haywood further developed by building pipelines and storage tanks. As the oilfield reached peak production of more than nine million barrels of oil in 1906, new oil discoveries arrived in northern Louisiana.

Learn more in First Louisiana Oil Wells.

September 22, 1955 – End of Signal Oil’s “The Whistler” Radio Program

Sponsored since 1942 by the largest independent oil company on the West Coast, the last episode of the radio mystery show “The Whistler” aired after 692 episodes. The Signal Oil Company had been established in 1921 by Samuel Mosher as Signal Gasoline Company during California’s Signal Hill oil boom.

A 1931 partnership with Standard Oil of California (Socal) led to sponsoring radio programs, according to the Media Heritage’s “Whatever happened to Signal Oil?” The popular Whistler mystery drama began with, “That Whistle is your signal for the Signal Oil program.”

September 23, 1918 – Giant Wood River Refinery goes Online

Roxana Petroleum Company’s Wood River (Illinois) facility began refining crude oil. It processed more than two million barrels of oil from Oklahoma oilfields in its first year of operation.

 Wood River Refinery History Museum is in front of the Phillips 66 Refinery.

The Wood River Refinery History Museum is in front of the Phillips 66 Refinery southeast of Roxana, Illinois.

Roxana Petroleum Company was the 1912 creation of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, which founded the American Gasoline Company in Seattle to distribute gas on the West Coast. Roxana Petroleum was established in Oklahoma to produce the state’s high quality oil to be refined at the Wood River plant. In West Texas, the company in 1928 built an experimental oil storage reservoir (see Million Barrel Museum).

At Roxana, the Wood River 2,200-acre facility northeast of St. Louis is the largest refinery owned by Phillips 66. Visit the Wood River Refinery History Museum.

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September 23, 1933 – Standard Oil of California Geologists visit Saudi Arabia

Invited by Saudi Arabian King Abdel Aziz, geologists from Standard Oil Company of California arrived at the Port of Jubail in the Persian Gulf. Searching the desert for petroleum and “kindred bituminous matter,” they discovered a giant oilfield. The Saudi Arabia and Standard Oil partnership would become the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco), later joined by other major U.S. companies.

September 23, 1947 – New Patent for “Hortonspheres”

Horace E. Horton’s Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I) received a patent for improvements to a spherical storage vessel he had invented in the 1920s. Designed to efficiently store natural gas, butane, propane and other volatile petroleum products, the large spheres were among the most important storage innovations to come to the U.S. oil and natural gas industry.

Hortonsphere patent drawing by Horace E. Horton.

Horace Ebenezer Horton (1843-1912) founded the company that would build the world’s first “field-erected spherical pressure vessel.”

CB&I named its “Hortonspheres” after the engineer who had started the company in 1889 to build bridges across the Mississippi River. In 1892, CB&I erected its first elevated water tank in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

“The elevated steel plate tank was the first built with a full hemispherical bottom, one of the company’s first technical innovations,” CB&I noted, adding that company built, “the world’s first field-erected spherical pressure vessel” in 1923 at Port Arthur, Texas.

Learn more in Horace Horton’s Spheres.

September 24, 1951 – Perforating Wells with Bazooka Technology

When World War II veteran Henry Mohaupt applied to patent his “Shaped Charge Assembly and Gun,” he brought anti-tank technology to the petroleum industry — a  downhole bazooka.

Mohaupt, a Swiss-born chemical engineer, during the war had conducted a secret U.S. Army program to develop an anti-tank weapon. His idea of using a conically hollowed out explosive charge to focus detonation energy led to the rocket grenade used in bazookas. 

Henry Mohaupt "Shaped Charge Assembly and Gun" patent drawing,

Henry Mohaupt’s “Shaped Charge Assembly and Gun” brought to the oil patch his World War II anti-tank “bazooka” technology patented one decade earlier.

After the war, the potential of these downhole rocket grenades to facilitate flow from oil-bearing strata was recognized by the Well Explosives Company of Fort Worth, Texas. The company employed Mohaupt to develop new technologies for safely perforating cement casing and pipe.

Learn more in Downhole Bazooka.

September 25, 1922 – First New Mexico Oil Well

Midwest Refining Company launched the New Mexico petroleum industry by completing the state’s first commercial oil well on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Drilled near Shiprock, the Hogback No. 1 well produced 375 barrels of oil per day.

Following the oilfield discovery, Midwest successfully completed 11 more wells to establish the Hogback field as a major producer of the San Juan Basin. Two years later, a pipeline was built to Farmington, where oil was shipped by rail to refineries in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Map of New Mexico's San Juan oil and gas basin.

Midwest Refining Company discovered the Hogback oilfield in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin.

Production from the prolific Hogback oilfield encouraged further exploration in New Mexico, which led to discoveries in 1928 that brought prosperity to Lea County and the town of Hobbs.

Learn more in First New Mexico Oil Wells. 


Recommended Reading: Louisiana’s Oil Heritage, Images of America (2012); Signal Hill, California – Images of America (2006); Handbook of Petroleum Refining Processes (2016); The Bazooka (2012); Oil in West Texas and New Mexico (1982). 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. Join today as an annual AOGHS supporting member. Help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact Copyright © 2022 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.


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