This Week in Petroleum History, July 22 – 28
July 22, 1933 – Phillips Petroleum sponsors First Solo Flight around the World
Before 50,000 cheering New York City onlookers, Wiley Post made aviation history when he landed his Lockheed Vega “Winnie Mae.” The former Oklahoma roughneck was the first person to fly solo around the world.
Post had worked in oilfields near Walters, Oklahoma, when he took his first airplane ride with a barnstormer in 1919. Taking a break from oilfield work in the 1920s, he joined “Burrell Tibbs Flying Circus” as a parachute jumper before learning to fly.
In 1926, Post returned to work in the oilfields, “where he was injured the first day on the job, losing the sight in his left eye,” noted a biographer, adding that Post’s injury happened while working at a well site near Seminole. When a metal splinter damaged his eye, Post used the $1,700 in compensation to buy his first airplane. He became friends with Frank Phillips, who sponsored Post’s high-altitude experimental flights. Phillips Petroleum Company, which produced aviation fuel before it produced gasoline for cars, also sponsored another historic plane – the “Woolaroc” – in an air race across the Pacific. Learn more in Flight of the Woolaroc.
July 22, 1959 – Historical Marker erected to Second U.S. Oil Well
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission dedicated a state marker to commemorate a well drilled shortly after Edwin Drake completed first U.S. commercial well on August 27, 1859.
On August 31, 22-year-old John Grandin and a local blacksmith began drilling a well that would reach almost twice as deep as Drake’s cable-tool depth of 69.5 feet. But the Warren County well was a dry hole. “After Drake’s discovery of oil in Titusville some area residents attempted to sink their own well,” notes Explore Pennsylvania. “The vast majority of such efforts failed.”
Learn how Grandin’s well achieved other historic industry milestones in First Dry Hole.
July 23, 1872 – “Real McCoy” Device drips Oil into Steam Engines
Using petroleum for improving the performance of locomotives became widespread when Elijah McCoy patented an automatic lubricator for steam engines. McCoy, an African-American inventor, designed a device that applied oil through a drip cup to locomotive and ship steam engines.
Born in Canada in 1843, McCoy was the son of slaves who had escaped from Kentucky and settled in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he graduated from high school. By the time of his death in 1929, McCoy had been awarded 60 patents, notes a Michigan historical marker dedicated in 1994.
According to some industry sources, McCoy’s 1872 automatic lubricator left an additional legacy: “The term ‘the real McCoy’ is believed to have come about because railroad engineers did not want low-quality copycat versions of this device.” Before purchasing, buyers would often ask if it was “the real McCoy.”
July 23, 1951 – Desk & Derrick Clubs organize
The Association of Desk & Derrick Clubs of North America is formed with articles of association signed by presidents of the clubs of New Orleans, Jackson, Los Angeles, and Houston. There now are 48 clubs in four regions throughout the United States and Canada. Learn more in Desk and Derrick Educators.
July 24, 2000 – BP unveils New Green and Yellow Logo
BP, the official name of a group of companies that included Amoco, ARCO and Castrol, unveiled a new corporate identity brand – replacing the “Green Shield” logo with a green and yellow sunflower pattern. The company also introduced a new corporate slogan: “Beyond Petroleum.” In 1998, when BP – then British Petroleum – merged with Amoco, the company’s name had briefly changed to BP Amoco as Amoco stations converted to the BP brand.
July 25, 1543 – Oil reported in New World
The first documented report of oil in the New World was made near the Sabine River on the Texas coast – when a storm forces two of Spanish explorer Don Luis de Moscoso’s seven brigantines ashore.
After a discouraging expedition in East Texas, de Moscoso, who succeeded expedition leader Hernando de Soto, built the seven small vessels and sailed down the Mississippi, according to the Houston Geological Society.
After reaching the Gulf of Mexico, the Spaniards decided to sail west along the coast. The storm hit and drove two brigantines ashore – where they discovered the first signs of oil in America.
July 27, 1918 – Launch of First Concrete Oil Tanker
America’s first concrete vessel designed to carry oil, the Socony, was launched from its shipyard on Flushing Bay, New York. The reinforced concrete barge was 98-feet long with a 32-foot beam. Built for the Standard Oil Company of New York, the vessel carried oil in six center and two wing compartments, “which have been oil-proofed by a special process,” explained the journal Cement and Engineering News. “Eight-inch cast iron pipe lines lead to each compartment and the oil pump is located on a concrete pump room aft.” Steel shortages during World War Two would lead to construction of even larger concrete oil tankers.
July 28, 1924 – Oil Scouts form Association
The National Oil Scouts Association of America – today the International Oil Scouts Association – files its charter in Austin, Texas, bringing new standards to an important oilfield profession. Since the 1860s, oilfield scouts have gathered field intelligence on drilling operations – including often sensitive information about the operator, location, lease, depth of well, formations encountered, logs and other data, which may yield a competitive advantage.
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