Louisiana Oil City Museum

Preserving Louisiana petroleum history at Caddo Lake.


A 1905 oil discovery at Caddo-Pines brought America’s rapidly growing petroleum industry to northwestern Louisiana. A state museum in appropriately named Oil City tells the story.

Originally the Caddo-Pine Island Oil and Historical Museum, in May 2004 the Louisiana State Oil and Gas Museum was dedicated as a state museum under the Louisiana Secretary of State. 

Oil rplatforms in 1911 on Caddo Lake, Louisiana.

Gulf Refining Company in 1911 built drilling platforms to reach the oil beneath Caddo Lake, Louisiana. The early “offshore” technologies worked, and production continues today.

Located about 20 miles north of Shreveport, the first public museum in Louisiana dedicated to the petroleum industry maintains an extensive local history library and collected photographic archives. Exterior exhibits include the former depot of the Kansas City Southern Railroad. (more…)

ConocoPhillips Petroleum Museums

Museums in Bartlesville and Ponca City preserve Oklahoma exploration and production history.


As part of Oklahoma statehood centennial celebrations in 2007, ConocoPhillips opened two petroleum museums to preserve the state’s exploration and production history. Often with volunteer docents, the facilities in Ponca City and Bartlesville feature interactive exhibits and rare oilfield artifacts. Energy education programs explore the industry’s past and future. (more…)

Merit Badge for Geology

Petroleum geologists helped create the Boy Scouts of America geology merit badge in 1953.


The Boy Scouts of America’s geology merit badge began in 1911 as a mining badge — one of less than 30 scouting badges. The mining merit badge in 1937 changed to rocks and minerals before becoming the geology badge in 1953.

The story behind the geology merit badge is best told by a member of the Houston Geological Society (HGS), a resource for potential badge earners.

AAPG-inspired geology Boy Scout merit badge

Petroleum geologists helped inspire the Geology merit badge adopted in 1953.

Petroleum geologist Jeff Spencer, himself an Eagle Scout, has published dozens of petroleum history papers and frequently contributed to Oil-Industry History, the peer-reviewed journal of the Petroleum History Institute (PHI), Oil City, Pennsylvania.

According to Spencer, the original Boy Scouts mining merit badge had several basic requirements, including naming at least 50 minerals; describing the 14 great divisions of the earth’s crust; and defining terms like watershed, delta, drift, fault, glacier, terrace and stratum.

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Scouts seeking the mining badge also were asked to identify 10 different kinds of rock and describe methods for mine ventilation and safety devices,

Mining merit badge was replaced with the Rocks and Minerals merit badge.

Scouts earned the Rocks & Minerals badge from 1937 until 1953.

The first mention of oil and natural gas appeared in 1927 — the mining badge requirement asked Scouts to “explain how we locate petroleum and natural gas pools, and how we obtain oil and gas,” Spencer notes.

In September 1937, the mining merit badge (a shovel) was replaced with the rocks and minerals badge (a crystal). The first merit badge booklet was published the same year by Daniel O ’Connell, chairman of the department of geology at the City College of New York.

O’Connell’s “Rocks and Minerals” booklet would go through through many revised printings in the next ten years, according to the Geological Society of America (GSA).

The first 12 merit badges of the Boy Scouts of America.

The first 12 merit badges of the Boy Scouts of America, which encourages visits to science museums and geology departments of local universities.

In 2014, thanks in part to the Society for Mining and Metallurgy (SME), the mining merit badge returned as “Mining and Society.”

Petroleum Geologists

In 1945, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) formed a “Committee on Boy Scout Literature” at the urging of industry leaders, including A.C. Bace, a geologist with Stanolind, and George W. Pirtlem, an independent geologist from Tyler, Texas.

Oklahoma geologist Frank Gouin chaired the AAPG committee’s effort to revise the merit badge and its requirements, and the geology badge officially replaced the Rocks and Minerals badge in 1953.

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Spencer notes that the 1953 merit badge’s description of what a geologist does said that four out of five geologists become “oil geologists” with an expected starting salary of $300 per month.

“You may have to be a nomad instead of settling down for life in one spot,” the description continued. “You may have to ‘sit on’ a well all night and then drive a hundred miles to report on it. You may have to burn in India, freeze in Alaska, or do both in the Texas Panhandle.”

Although minor revisions of the geology merit badge occurred in 1957, the next major change came in 1982, adding anticlines, synclines, and faults with a requirement to draw simple diagrams showing unconformity, strikes and dips.

The last major revision of the geology badge occurred in 1985, Spencer says, again with the cooperation of AAPG leadership. The badge now has 13 requirements, organized under five categories: earth materials, earth processes, earth history, geology and people, and careers in geology.

  • The earth materials section includes the collection and identification of rocks and minerals.
  • The earth processes section covers geomorphology, the hydrologic cycle, volcanoes, mountain building, and the ocean floor.
  • The earth history section includes the geologic time chart, fossils, and continental drift. The geology and people section covers environmental geology and energy sources with a field trip option in this category.

In addition to its involvement in merit badges, AAPG and its chapters serve the scouting program in many ways, Spencer concludes. The Houston Geological Society has sponsored “Explorer Posts” and worked with the Houston Museum of Natural Science to teach the elements of earning the badge.

merit badge for energy

OPEC-inspired energy badge.

There now are more than 120 merit badges. The OPEC oil embargo of 1973 — and the need for energy conservation — led to creation of an energy merit badge in 1977.

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In 2013, Jeff Spencer published a selection of oil patch post cards via Arcadia Publishing’s postcard history series. Texas Oil and Gas includes more than 200 vintage black-and-white images through decades of oil booms throughout the state.

Chapters reflect the Lone Star State’s petroleum heritage by region, including “Spindletop and the Golden Triangle,” a prolific area in southeast Texas between Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange (read more about Spencer’s Texas oil postcards).


Recommended Reading: Texas Oil and Gas, Postcard History (2013); Trek of the Oil Finders: A History of Exploration for Petroleum (1975); Anomalies: Pioneering Women in Petroleum Geology 1917-2017 (2017). 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 (AOGHS) preserves U.S. petroleum history. Please become an AOGHS annual supporter and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. Copyright © 2024 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Citation Information: Article Title – “Merit Badge for Geology.” Authors: Aoghs.org Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/energy-education-resources/geology-merit-badge. Last Updated: May 1, 2024. Original Published Date: June 1, 2008.

AAPG – Geology Pros since 1917

Growing oil demand challenged petroleum geologists, who organized a professional association.


As demand for petroleum grew during World War I, the science for finding oil and natural gas reserves remained obscure when a small group of geologists in 1917 organized what became the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).

AAPG began as the Southwestern Association of Petroleum Geologists in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after about 90 geologists gathered at Henry Kendall College, now Tulsa University.  They formed an association of earth scientists on February 10, 1917, “to which only reputable and recognized petroleum geologists are admitted.”

American Association of Petroleum Geologists 1917 logo

AAPG members maintain a professional business code.

Rapidly multiplying mechanized technologies of the “Great War” brought desperation to finding and producing vast supplies of oil. America entered the First War I two months after AAPG’s founding. An October 1917 giant oilfield discovery at Ranger, Texas, inspired a British War Cabinet member to declare, “The Allied cause floated to victory upon a wave of oil.”

Rock Hounds

In  January 1918, the AAPG convention of in Oklahoma City reported 167 active members and 17 associate members. After adopting its present name one year after organizing at Henry Kendall College, the group issued its first technical bulletin, using papers and presentations delivered at the 1917 Tulsa meeting.

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The professional “rock hounds” produced a mission statement that included promoting the science of geology, especially relating to oil and natural gas. The geologists also committed to encouraging “technology improvements in the methods of exploring for and exploiting these substances.”

AAPG founded in this Tulsa college

AAPG was founded in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at Henry Kendall College — today’s Tulsa University.

AAPG also began publishing a bimonthly journal that remains among the most respected in the industry. The peer-reviewed Bulletin included papers written by leading geologists of the day.

With a subscription price of five dollars, the journal was distributed to members, university libraries, and other industry professionals.

Finding Faults and Anticlines

By 1920, one petroleum trade magazine — after complaining of the industry’s lack of skilled geologists — noted the “Association Grows in Membership and Influence; Combats the Fakers.”

The article praised AAPG professionalism and warned of “the large number of unscrupulous and inadequately prepared men who are attempting to do geological work.”

Similarly, the Oil Trade Journal praised AAPG for its commitment “to censor the great mass of inadequately prepared and sometimes unscrupulous reports on geological problems, which are wholly misleading to the industry.”

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Perhaps the best known such fabrication is related to the men behind the 1930 East Texas oilfield discovery — a report entitled  “Geological, Topographical And Petroliferous Survey, Portion of Rusk County, Texas, Made for C.M. Joiner by A.D. Lloyd, Geologist And Petroleum Engineer.”

Using very scientific terminology, A.D. Lloyd’s document described Rusk County geology — its anticlines, faults, and a salt dome — all features associated with substantial oil deposits…and all completely fictitious. 

The fabrications nevertheless attracted investors, allowing Joiner and “Doc” Lloyd to drill a well that uncovered a massive oil field, still the largest conventional oil reservoir in the lower-48 states.

AAPG magazine cover of Bulletin

AAPG’s peer-reviewed journal first appeared in 1918, one year after the association’s first meeting in Tulsa.

Equally imaginative science came from Lloyd’s earlier descriptions of the “Yegua and Cook Mountain” formations and the thousands of seismographic registrations he ostensibly recorded. Lloyd, a former patent medicine salesman, and other self-proclaimed geologists, were the antithesis of the AAPG professional ethic.

In 1945, AAPG formed a “Committee on Boy Scout Literature” to assist the Boy Scouts of America in updating requirements for the “mining” badge, which had been awarded since 1911 (learn more in Merit Badge for Geology).

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By 1953, AAPG membership had grown to more than 10,000 and a permanent headquarters building opened Tulsa. The association’s 2022 membership included about 40,000 members in 129 countries in the upstream energy industry, “who collaborate — and compete — to provide the means for humankind to thrive.”

The world’s largest professional geological society, a nonprofit organization, maintains a membership code to assure “integrity, business ethics, personal honor, and professional conduct.”

Oil Patch Historians

Longtime AAPG member Ray Sorenson, a Tulsa-based consulting geologist, has made numerous presentations about the history of petroleum. After publishing papers in leading academic journals, he adapted many of his contributions for the association’s 2007 Discovery Series, “First Impressions: Petroleum Geology at the Dawn of the North American Oil Industry.”  

Further, Sorenson continued to research and collect a vast amount of material documenting the earliest signs of oil — worldwide references to hydrocarbons earlier that the 1859 first U.S. oil well drilled by Edwin Drake in Pennsylvania.

Drake expert and geologist and historian William Brice, professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, in 2009 published Myth, Legend, Reality – Edwin Laurentine Drake and the Early Oil Industry. His  661-page epic was researched and written as part of the U.S. petroleum industry’s 150th anniversary (learn more in Edwin Drake and his Oil Well),

As part if AAPG’s 2017 centennial events, geologist Robbie Rice Gries published Anomalies: Pioneering Women in Petroleum Geology 1917-2017. Researched with help from AAPG volunteers, her 405-page book includes contributors’ personal stories, written correspondence, and photographs dating back to the early 1900s. 

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The stories in Gries’ book should be read by every petroleum geologist, geophysicist and petroleum engineer, according to independent producer Marlan Downey, founder of Roxanna Oil Company. “Partly for the pleasure of the sprightly told adventures, partly for a sense of history, and, significantly, because it engenders a proper respect towards all women professionals, forging their unique way in a ‘man’s world.’”  


Recommended Reading:  Anomalies: Pioneering Women in Petroleum Geology 1917-2017 (2017); Trek of the Oil Finders: A History of Exploration for Petroleum (1975); Myth, Legend, Reality – Edwin Laurentine Drake and the Early Oil Industry (2009); The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power (1991); The Birth of the Oil Industry (1936). 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. Become an AOGHS annual supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. Copyright © 2024 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Citation Information – Article Title: “AAPG – Geology Pros since 1917.” Authors: B.A. Wells and K.L. Wells. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL:https://aoghs.org/energy-education-resources/aapg-geology-pros-since-1917. Last Updated: February 1, 2024. Original Published Date: April 29, 2014.


Edwin Drake and his Oil Well

Biography explores father of U.S. oil industry to total depth.


The man who would create the American petroleum industry was down to his last few pennies in August 1859. A letter was on its way from the company that had hired him to drill for oil near in remote Titusville, Pennsylvania. The letter instructed “Colonel” Edwin L. Drake to close operations.

“As far as the company was concerned, the project was finished,” noted William Brice, PhD, in his 2009 biography of the former railroad conductor. “Fortunately that letter was not delivered until after they found oil.” (more…)

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