November 18 to November 24, 2019

November 19, 1927 – Phillips Petroleum introduces “Phillips 66” Gasoline

petroleum history november

Originally promoted as a dependable “winter gasoline,” by 1930 “Phillips 66” gasoline was marketed in 12 states.

After a decade as an exploration and production company, Phillips Petroleum Company entered the business of refining and retail gasoline distribution. The Bartlesville, Oklahoma, company introduced a new line of gasoline – “Phillips 66” – at its first service station, which opened in Wichita, Kansas.

The gas was named “Phillips 66” because it had propelled company officials down U.S. Highway 66 at 66 mph on the way to a meeting at their Bartlesville headquarters. The popular roadway soon became the backbone of Phillips Petroleum marketing plans for the new product – which boasted “controlled volatility,” the result of a higher-gravity mix of naphtha and gasoline.

Acquisition of service stations added 50 new retail outlets each month to the company. By 1930, Phillips 66 gasoline was sold at 6,750 outlets in 12 states. Because the composition made Phillips 66 gas easier to start in cold weather, advertisements enticed motorists to try the “New Winter Gasoline.”

November 20, 1930 – Oil Booms help Hilton expand in Texas

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. The famous “Roaring Ranger” oilfield was eventually exhausted, but Hilton was firmly established in the Texas hotel business. His El Paso Hilton (now the Plaza Hotel) was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. 

November 21, 1925 – Magnolia Petroleum incorporates

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Magnolia owned gas stations throughout the Southeast.

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

An oil monument was unveiled in April 2008 in Glenpool, Oklahoma.

Two years before Oklahoma statehood, the Glenn Pool (or Glennpool) 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.

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. Glennpool 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

petroleum history november

Petroleum history plays a small role (a truck from Shawnee, Oklahoma) in the Smithsonian’s “America on the Move” exhibit.

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.

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”

petroleum history november

Mole men emerge from an experimental oil well drilled beyond 32,700 feet deep.

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

petroleum history november

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

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

petroleum history november

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

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.

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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 and Volunteer Contributing Editor Kris Wells call in on the last Wednesday of each month. Support our energy education mission with a contribution today. Contact bawells@aoghs.org for membership information. © 2019 Bruce A. Wells.