Felty Outdoor Oil Museum

North Texas petroleum history preserved by a dedicated Burkburnett independent producer.

 

Three generations of the Felty family have kicked historic Burkburnett oilfield mud from their boots while maintaining the Felty Outdoor Oil Museum. The first, Francis “F.T.” Felty Sr., worked in Wichita County through the revival of a North Texas drilling boom during World War Two. Responding to the war’s steel shortages, he crisscrossed the oil patch in a truck pulling used casings. It turned into a long career in the oil patch. (more…)

Wisconsin Petroleum Museum

Businessman’s service station artifacts preserve U.S. transportation history and educate visitors.

Ed Jacobsen, once an oil company sales representative in the Chicago area, bought his first service station in the late 1960s. More than three decades and six stations later, he retired to his wife’s hometown of Three Lakes in the Northwoods region of upper Wisconsin.

But Ed missed the world of service stations. He began visiting flea markets and garage sales before creating a Wisconsin petroleum museum.

Ed Jacobsen’s expertise – and love for “the world of service stations” – resulted in the 2006 opening of Wisconsin’s Northwoods Petroleum Museum. The museum has help attracted nearly 2,000 people to an annual car show.

By 2006, as Ed’s petroleum-related memorabilia climbed above 2,700 items. He (and his wife) realized there was a looming storage problem — although he still maintained that technically, he was not a collector.

“Many collectors buy, sell or trade memorabilia to make money,” he says. “I believe in the educational value of these items – and preserving a history many people may have forgotten.” (more…)

ConocoPhillips Petroleum Museums

Oklahoma oil and natural gas history exhibited in Ponca City Bartlesville.

 

As part of Oklahoma statehood centennial celebrations, ConocoPhillips in 2007 opened two state-or-the-art museums. Today, rare oilfield artifacts, historic images, and energy education programs focus on the petroleum industry’s past and future at the Ponca City and Bartlesville museums .

 ConocoPhillips oil museums oil tank wagon

A circa 1880s Continental Oil Company horse-drawn tank wagon welcomes visitors to the Conoco Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma, which opened in 2007. Phillips Petroleum Company, once headquartered 70 miles east in Bartlesville, merged with Conoco in 2002. Photo by Bruce Wells.

conocophillips petroleum museum interior oil exhibits

The Conoco Museum tells the story of a petroleum company that began as a small kerosene distributor serving 19th century pioneer America.

“These museums reaffirm our Oklahoma roots,” proclaimed Jim Mulva, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, on May 12, 2007. His company built the Conoco Museum in Ponca City and the Phillips Museum in Bartlesville as “gifts to the people of Oklahoma, visitors to the state, and our employee and retiree populations around the world.” (more…)

ConocoPhillips Petroleum Museums

Two museums celebrate Oklahoma statehood centennial in 2007.

As part of Oklahoma statehood centennial celebrations, ConocoPhillips in 2007 opened two state-of-the-art museums. Today, rare oilfield artifacts, historic images, and energy education programs focus on the petroleum industry’s past and future at the Ponca City and Bartlesville museums .

conocophillips petroleum museum

A circa 1880s Continental Oil Company horse-drawn tank wagon welcomes visitors to the Conoco Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma, which opened in 2007. Phillips Petroleum Company, once headquartered 70 miles east in Bartlesville, merged with Conoco in 2002. Photos by Bruce Wells.

 

conocophillips petroleum museum

The Conoco Museum tells the story of a company that began as a 19th century kerosene distributor in Utah.

“These museums reaffirm our Oklahoma roots,” proclaimed Jim Mulva, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, on May 12, 2007. His company built the Conoco Museum in Ponca City and the Phillips Museum in Bartlesville as “gifts to the people of Oklahoma, visitors to the state, and our employee and retiree populations around the world.” (more…)

Million Barrel Museum

Once an experimental 1928 concrete reservoir for Permian Basin oil, then a water park for a day.

million barrel museum Gulf station

In Monahans, Texas, the Million Barrel Museum tells the story of how a lack of pipelines during 1920s West Texas oil discoveries  led to the construction of a massive concrete tank. Photo courtesy Texas Historical Commission.


Monahans oil museum concrete tank

The Million Barrel Museum’s 525 foot by 422 foot main attraction, originally built to store Permian Basin oil in 1928, became a water park for just one day in 1958. Photo courtesy Top of Texas Gazette.


monahans oil museum Texas map

Founded in 1881, Monahans incorporated two years after oil was discovered in 1926.

Tourists traveling on I-20 in West Texas should not miss the Monahans oil museum in the heart of the Permian Basin. Not just a petroleum-related museum, it is a Million Barrel Museum whose main attraction is an elliptical cement oil tank the size of three football fields.

The Permian Basin was once known as a “petroleum graveyard” until a series of successful wells beginning in 1920 brought exploration companies to the arid region. The Santa Rita No. 1 well alone would endow the University of Texas with millions of dollars.

Lack of infrastructure for storing and transporting the oil proved to be a problem. “There were great oil discoveries around 1926 and few places to put the oil. No pipelines or tanks,” says Elizabeth Heath, chairwoman of the Ward County Historical Commission. A single well in the Hendricks field produced 500 barrels a day.

“Unfortunately, the Roxana Petroleum Company – later absorbed by Shell Oil – did not have a pipeline to get all that oil to a refinery,” adds journalist Mike Cox in a 2006 article. To solve the problem, the company decided to build a giant concrete reservoir. Using mule-drawn equipment, workers completed an excavation and laid wire mesh over the packed earth, Cox explains in his “Texas Tales” column. Contractors then started pouring tons of concrete.

“By late April 1928 workers hammered away at a wooden cover for the colossal tank, placing creosote-soaked support timbers at 14 foot intervals across the sprawling reservoir floor,” he reports. The timbers supported a domed redwood roof covered with tar paper. Completion of the walls, pillars and roof took just three months because construction took place 24 hours a day. (more…)

Cool Coolspring Power Museum

Exhibits in the rustic hills of western Pennsylvania preserve a remarkable mechanical history of America.

A collection of buildings, artifacts, and outdoor engine exhibits are part of an unusual museum that can be found near Little Sandy Creek, just off Colonel Drake highway 36, about 10 miles northwest of Punxsutawney.

Coolspring Power Museum

The Coolspring Power Museum opened in 1985 near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It has the largest collection of historically significant stationary gas engines in the country, if the not the world. Photo courtesy Coolspring Power Museum.

The Coolspring Power Museum educates visitors about the evolution of internal combustion engine technology that put an end to the age of steam.

The museum’s long-time director – with the help of hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers – spent decades collecting and preserving hundreds of historic engines of all shapes and sizes. In a 2004 interview, Dr. Paul E. Harvey explained why the Coolspring collection was important.

“Internal combustion engines revolutionized the world around the turn of the 20th century in much the same way that steam engines did a century before,” noted Dr. Harvey, who co-founded the museum in 1985 about midway between between Punxsutawney and Brookville, Pennsylvania.

“One has only to imagine a coal-fired, steam-powered, airplane to realize how important internal combustion was to the industrialized world,” added Dr. Harvey, a medical doctor.

Coolspring Power Museum

The museum hosts many summer events, including a “History Day and Car, Truck & Tractor Show.” Photo by Bruce Wells.

According to Dr. Harvey, permanent exhibits at Coolspring include stationary gas “hit and miss” engines, throttle governed engines, flame ignition engines, hot tube ignition engines, and hot air engines ranging in size from a fractional horsepower up to 600 horsepower.

Many engine enthusiasts from around the country have sent significant pieces for display, he said. The grounds, as well as semi-annual shows, have expanded with visitors from Maine to California, as well as Canada and England.

Dr. Harvey explained that early internal combustion engines produced only a few horsepower and could not replace steam engines in most applications, but by 1890 they were powerful enough for most portable or remote operations as well as many small manufacturers.

By 1900 the new power technology was replacing reciprocating steam engines for electric generation, Dr. Harvey noted. “By 1915 they were being considered for all but the largest installations where steam turbines have since dominated,” he added. Dr. Harvey and fellow enthusiast John Wilcox began collecting engines in the 1950s. Their collections were the basis of displays that would greatly multiply.

The museum is housed in 20 buildings that, besides its own large collection, contain many pieces placed there on loan. Dr. Harvey said the purpose of Coolspring was “to be the foremost collection of early internal combustion technology presented in an educational and visitor-oriented manner and to provide an operation that will gain support and generate substantial growth.”

Coolspring Power Museum

Dr. Paul Harvey, co-founder of the Coolspring Power Museum in Pennsylvania, stands next to the 175 HP Otto engine he restored with the help of the museum’s many dedicated volunteers. Photo courtesy the Coolspring Power Museum.

The collection documents the early history of the internal combustion revolution. Almost all of the critical components of today’s engines have their origins in the period represented by the collection (as well as hundreds of innovations no longer used).

Some of the engines represent real engineering progress; others are more the product of inventive minds avoiding previous patents. All tell a story.

Although the museum’s focus is on stationary engines (with perhaps the largest collection in the world), Dr. Harvey explained that no museum of internal combustion engines would be complete without at least a few vehicles in its collection.

Among the antique heavy trucks and semis, is a rare petroleum well service rig. The Hanley & Bird Well Bailing Machine was designed to clean a well by lifting water, sand, and debris from the bottom of the well using a “bailer” attached to a cable, noted the museum director.

Coolspring Power Museum

A “last of its kind” Hanley & Bird Well Bailing Machine from the Pennsylvania oilfields. Photo courtesy Coolspring Power Museum.

Five of the devices were built; the Coolspring Power Museum’s example is the only one to survive. “It was donated to the museum by EXCO Resources, the successor to H&B,” Dr. Harveys said. “It is very interesting as it uses a chain drive Mack rear end and a Ford front axle.”

Dr. Harvey recalled seeing the Hanley & Bird Well Bailing Machine driving through Coolspring on its way to service local natural gas wells. He said that the museum today displays it with the mast raised and ready to work. “It certainly shows the ingenuity of the local gas industry,” he reported.

The Coolspring Power Museum collection includes many engines used to power multiple wells in America’s first oilfields. The museum is off Route 36 midway between Punxsutawney and Brookville in western Pennsylvania. Just as the steam engines revolutionized the world in the 1800s, the internal combustion engines on exhibit at the Coolspring Power Museum did the same at the start of the 20th century, according to Dr. Harvey.

“You have only to imagine a coal-fired, steam-powered, airplane to realize how important internal combustion was to the industrialized world,” the doctor added with a chuckle. The Coolspring Power Museum hosts events in the spring and summer, including the popular “History Day and Car, Truck & Tractor Show.”

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The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Support this AOGHS.ORG energy education website with a contribution today. For membership information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2019 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information: Article Title: “Cool Coolspring Power Museum.” Author: Aoghs.org Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/energy-education-resources/cool-coolspring-power-museum. Last Updated: September 17, 2019. Original Published Date: September 1, 2005.

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