Oil Well Tractor Ad Keepsake

Son preserves magazine advertisement with father operating “Caterpillar” D4 Diesel Tractor in New York oilfield.

 

While working as a foreman in the oilfield service industry in Pennsylvania and New York, Charles Gerringer’s father operated an innovative diesel-fueled tractor. The family kept a circa 1950 trade magazine advertisement featuring Harold Gerringer as he worked at a well using the “Caterpillar” D4.

“My Dad worked for N.V.V. Franchot and was a foreman in the oil and gas fields around Allegany, New York,” Charles noted in a 2019 email to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. “I have an advertisement of him using one of the first modern Caterpillar tractors to pull a well.”

Caterpillar tractor at New York oil well

Thanks to his son Charles, this image of Allegany lease tractor operator Harold Gerringer (at right) in a Caterpllar advertisement has been preserved. This partially restored image of a well workover is from the ad, which appeared in Producers Monthly Magazine.

The trade magazine advertisement featured Harold Gerringer with a “Caterpillar” D4 at a workover site (replacing production equipment to extend the life of a well).  The promotion came from an prominent machine company in the region that sold the “Caterpiller” D4, whose virtue was its low diesel fuel consumption.

N.V.V. Franchot lease

“Never was there a cheaper power on a lease,” the ad proclaimed. Originally designed for farm use, the 41-horsepower tractor proved popular in oilfields. Its ads appeared in Producers Monthly magazine, published by the Bradford District of the Pennsylvania Oil Producers Association from 1936 to 1969.

The “Caterpiller” D4 ad began with a simple description of the oilfield photo. “Four men and a tractor are putting new economy into their work on the N.V.V. Franchot lease at Four Mile, New York, lease pictured above. Credit is due to the N.V.V. F. Munson, the general superintendent, Lawrence Gallets, the foreman, Harold Gerringer the tractor operator, and Norbert Karl, the able helper,” the text noted.

Caterpillar Tractor at oil well ad

“For more than three months now this ‘Caterpillar’ Diesel D4 Tractor has been operating at the amazingly low fuel consumption of only four gallons of Diesel fuel in an eight-hour day,” the ad continued.

The Caterpillar Company ad, promoting the region’s supplier, Beckwith Machine Company, proclaimed: “Never was there a cheaper power on a lease, never so much work for so little fuel cost, and never greater satisfaction for the owner built into a Tractor.”

Beckwith Machine provided contact information for sales at field offices in Pittsburgh, Bradford, Wilkes-Barre, and Harrisburg. Bradford today is home to the Penn-Brad Oil Museum. Not far away in New York, the Pioneer Oil Museum in Bolivar also preserves the region’s considerable petroleum history.

Special thanks to Charles Gerringer, a supporting member of the American Oil & Gas Historical Society, for sharing a brief part of his father’s oilfield history.

Recommended Reading – Published in 1949, Empire Oil: The Story of Oil in New York State by John P Herrick. “If you are doing business in the oil and gas industry in New York State this is a must read. The level of historical research is excellent,” noted one online reviewer in 2014 after reading the 474-page history.

_______________________________

_______________________________

The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Saving a Workover Well Tractor Ad.” Author: Aoghs.org Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/Saving a Workover Well Tractor Ad. Last Updated: June 18, 2020. Original Published Date: June 14, 2020.

 

Carl Baker and Howard Hughes

As the U.S. petroleum expanded following the 1901 “Lucas Gusher” at Spindletop in Texas, service company pioneers like Carl Baker and Howard Hughes brought new technologies to oilfields.

Baker Oil Tools and Hughes Tools specialized in maximizing oil and natural gas production (competitors would include Schlumberger, a French company founded in 1926 and Halliburton, which began in 1919 as a well-cementing company). 

R.C. “Carl” Baker Sr.

Baker Oil Tool Company, later Baker International, was founded by Reuben Carlton “Carl” Baker Sr. of Coalinga, California, who among other inventions patented an innovative cable-tool drill bit in 1903 after founding the Coalinga Oil Company.

Halliburton and Baker Hughes Merger

Baker Tools Company founder R.C. “Carl” Baker in 1919.

“While drilling around Coalinga, Baker encountered hard rock layers that made it difficult to get casing down a freshly drilled hole,” notes a Coalinga historian. “To solve the problem, he developed an offset bit for cable-tool drilling that enabled him to drill a hole larger than the casing.”

Baker also patented a “Gas Trap for Oil Wells” in 1908, a “Pump-Plunger” in 1914, and a “Shoe Guide for Well Casings” in 1920.

Coalinga was “every inch a boom town and Mr. Baker would become a major player in the town’s growth,” reports the Baker Museum. Baker organized small oil companies, a bank and the local power company.

After drilling wells in the Kern River oilfield, Baker added another technological innovation in 1907 when he patented the Baker Casing Shoe, a device ensuring uninterrupted flow of oil through a well. By 1913 Baker organized the Baker Casing Shoe Company (renamed Baker Tools two years later). He opened his first manufacturing plant in Coalinga.

The R.C. Baker Memorial Museum was the 1917 machine shop and office of Baker Casing Shoe. When Baker Tools headquarters moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s, the building remained a company machine shop. It was donated by Baker to Coalinga in 1959 and opened as a museum in 1961. Carl Baker Sr. died in 1957 at age 85 – after receiving more than 150 U.S. patents in his lifetime.




“Though Mr. Baker never advanced beyond the third grade, he possessed an incredible understanding of mechanical and hydraulic systems,” reported the Coalinga museum.

 The Houston, Texas, manufacturing operations of Sharp-Hughes Tool at 2nd and Girard Streets in 1915. Today, the site is on the campus of University of Houston–Downtown. Photo couttesy Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

The Houston manufacturing operations of Sharp-Hughes Tool at 2nd and Girard Streets in 1915. Today, the site is on the campus of University of Houston–Downtown. Photo courtesy Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

Baker Tools became Baker International in 1976 and Baker Hughes after the 1987 merger with Hughes Tool Company.

Howard R. Hughes Sr.

The Hughes Tool Company began in 1908 as the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company founded by Walter B. Sharp and Howard R. Hughes, Sr.

“Fishtail” rotary drill bits became obsolete in 1909 when the two inventors introduced a dual-cone roller bit. They created a bit “designed to enable rotary drilling in harder, deeper formations than was possible with earlier fishtail bits,” according to a Hughes historian. Secret tests took place on a drilling rig at Goose Creek, south of Houston.

“In the early morning hours of June 1, 1909, Howard Hughes Sr. packed a secret invention into the trunk of his car and drove off into the Texas plains,” notes Gwen Wright of History Detectives. The drilling site was near Galveston Bay. Rotary drilling “fishtail ” bits of the time were “nearly worthless when they hit hard rock.”

AOGHS Support ad

The new technology would soon bring faster and deeper drilling worldwide, helping to find previously unreachable oil and natural gas reserves. The dual-cone bit also created many Texas millionaires, explained Don Clutterbuck, one of the PBS show’s sources. “When the Hughes twin-cones hit hard rock, they kept turning, their dozens of sharp teeth (166 on each cone) grinding through the hard stone,” he added.



Although several inventors tried to develop better rotary drill bit technologies, Sharp-Hughes Tool Company was the first to bring it to American oilfields. Drilling times fell dramatically, saving petroleum companies huge amounts of money.

Halliburton and Baker Hughes Merger

Howard Hughes Sr. of Houston, Texas, received a 1901 patent for a dual-cone drill bit.

The Society of Petroleum Engineers has noted that about the same time Hughes developed his bit, Granville A. Humason of Shreveport, Louisiana, patented the first cross-roller rock bit, the forerunner of the Reed cross-roller bit.

Biographers note that Hughes met Granville Humason in a Shreveport bar, where Humason sold his roller bit rights to Hughes for $150. The University of Texas’ Center for American History has a rare 1951 recording of Humason’s recollections of that chance meeting. Humason recalls he spent $50 of his sale proceeds at the bar during the balance of the evening.

After Sharp died in 1912, his widow Estelle Sharp sold her 50 percent share in the company to Hughes. It became Hughes Tool in 1915. Despite legal action between Hughes Tool and the Reed Roller Bit Company that occurred in the late 1920s, Hughes prevailed – and his oilfield service company prospered.

By 1934, Hughes Tool engineers design and patented the three-cone roller bit, an enduring design that remains much the same today. Hughes’ exclusive patent lasted until 1951, which allowed his Texas company to grow worldwide. More innovations (and mergers) would follow.




Halliburton and Baker Hughes Merger

A February 1914 advertisement for the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company in Fuel Oil Journal.

Frank Christensen and George Christensen had developed the earliest diamond bit in the 1941 and introduced diamond bits to oilfields in 1946, beginning with the Rangley field of Colorado. The long-lasting tungsten carbide tooth came into use in the early 1950s.

After Baker International acquired Hughes Tool Company in 1987, Baker Hughes acquired the Eastman Christensen Company three years later. Eastman was a world leader in directional drilling.

When Howard Hughes Sr. died in 1924, he left three-quarters of his company to Howard Hughes Jr., then a student at Rice University. The younger Hughes added to the success of Hughes Tool while becoming one of the richest men in the world. His many legacies include founding Hughes Aircraft Company and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Learn more oilfield history in Making Hole – Drilling Technology.

Oilfield Service Company Competition

A major competitor for any energy service company, today’s Schlumberger Limited can trace its roots to Caen, France. In 1912, brothers Conrad and Marcel began making geophysical measurements that recorded a map of equipotential curves (similar to contour lines on a map). Using very basic equipment, their field experiments led to invention of a downhole electronic “logging tool” in 1927.

After successfully developing an electrical four-probe surface approach for mineral exploration, the brothers lowered another electric tool into a well. They recorded a single lateral-resistivity curve at fixed points in the well’s borehole and graphically plotted the results against depth – creating first electric well log of geologic formations.

Meanwhile another service company in Oklahoma, the Reda Pump Company had been founded by Armais Arutunoff, a close friend of Frank Phllips. By 1938, an estimated two percent of all the oil produced in the United States with artifical lift, was lifted by an Arutunoff pump. Learn more in Inventing the Electric Submersible Pump (also see All Pumped Up – Oilfield Technology).

_______________




_______________

The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Carl Baker and Howard Hughes.” Author: AOGHS.ORG Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/oil-almanac/carl-baker-howard-hughes. Last Updated: May 31, 2020. Original Published Date: December 17, 2017.

First Oil Book of 1860

The Wonder of the Nineteenth Century: Rock Oil in Pennsylvania and Elsewhere

 

Less than 10 months after former railroad conductor Edwin L. Drake completed the first commercial U.S. oil well in August 1859 along Oil Creek in Titusville, Pennsylvania, Thomas A. Gale wrote a detailed study about the new rock oil – petroleum. 

 

The Wonder of the Nineteenth Century: Rock Oil in Pennsylvania and Elsewhere described a radical fuel source for the popular lamp fuel kerosene, which had been made from coal for more than a decade.

“Those who have not seen it burn, may rest assured its light is no moonshine; but something nearer the clear, strong, brilliant light of day,” Gale declared in his 1860 pamphlet, published by Sloan & Griffith and sold for 25 cents. “In other words, rock oil emits a dainty light; the brightest and yet the cheapest in the world; a light fit for Kings and Royalists, and not unsuitable for Republicans and Democrats.”

rock oil history book

Thomas A. Gale played a role in early U.S. energy education.

Gale’s descriptions of the value of petroleum helped launch investments in new exploration companies. He noted the commercial qualities of Pennsylvania oil for refining into kerosene (today also used as a rocket fuel).

Rarest of Oil Books

Many historians have regarded Gale’s 80-page pamphlet as the first book about America’s new petroleum industry.

In 1952, the Ethyl Corporation of New York republished Gale’s historic The Wonder of the Nineteenth Century: Rock Oil in Pennsylvania and Elsewhere.

“Not by the widest stretch of the imagination could Thomas Gale have realized, when he put down his pen on June 1, 1860, that he had written a book destined to become one of the rarest of all oil books,” noted the Ethyl historian in 1952 when the company republished Gale’s work. Only three copies were known to exist in 1952.

AOGHS Support ad

Ethyl Corporation noted the scarcity of copies of the book had prevented “all but a few historians” from giving the book the attention it deserved. “Gale wrote his book to satisfy a public desire for more information about petroleum. Newspapers had carried belated accounts of Drake’s discovery well, and the mad scramble for oil that followed, but actually the world new little about petroleum.”

The book’s 11 chapters explained practical aspects of the new petroleum industry. Chapters one and two, “What is Rock Oil?”and “Where is the Rock Oil found?” were followed by “Geological structure of the oil region.” Chapters four though six explained the early technologies (and costs) for pumping the oil, while the next two chapters examine “Uses of Rock Oil.” The final three chapters offered “Sketches of several oil wells,” “History of the Rock Oil enterprise,” and “Present condition and prospects of Rock Oil interests in difference localities.”

Originally published by Sloan & Griffith of Erie, Pennsylvania, the 1860 cover noted the author as “a resident of Oil Creek” and included a biblical quote: “The Rock poured me out rivers of oil,” from Job, 29:6.

Was Thomas Gayle’s 1860 work the first oil book, as Ethyl Corporation historians believed when they reprinted it in 1952? Natural oil and gas seeps were recorded millennia ago (including the bible). In more recent centuries, writers around the world have noted coal, bitumen, and substances like petroleum – a word derived from the Latin roots of petra, meaning “rock” and oleum meaning “oil.” 

Several years prior to Drake’s historic 1859 oil well, businessman George Bissell had hired a prominent Yale chemist to study the potential of oil and its products to convince potential investors.

“Gentlemen, it appears to me that there is much ground for encouragement in the belief that your company have in their possession a raw material from which, by simple and not expensive processes, they may manufacture very valuable products,” reported Benjamin Silliman Jr. in his 1855 “Report on the Rock Oil, or Petroleum, from Venango Co., Pennsylvania, with Special Reference to its Use for Illumination and Other Purposes,” convinced the investors to drill at Titusville (also see George Bissell’s Oil Seeps).

According to historian Paul H. Giddens in the 1939 classic, The Birth of the Oil Industry, Silliman’s 1855 report, “proved to be a turning-point in the establishment of the petroleum business, for it dispelled many doubts about its value.”

_______________________________

_______________________________

The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information – Article Title: “First Oil Book of 1860.” Author: Aoghs.org Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/oil-almanac/first-oil-book-of-1860. Last Updated: June 3, 2020. Original Published Date: May 31, 2020.

 

Golden Driller of Tulsa

Introduced at the international petroleum expo in 1953, refurbished many times, and today a popular Oklahoma state monument. 

 

Seventy-six feet tall and weighing about 22 tons, the “Golden Driller” – an oilfield roughneck – is the most photographed landmark in Tulsa.

golden giant Tulsa roughneck staue

Designated an Oklahoma state monument in 1979, the Golden Driller was permanently installed for the 1966 International Petroleum Exposition in Tulsa. Photo by Bruce Wells.

Since the giant roughneck’s first appearance at the 1953 International Petroleum Exposition, he has become a symbol a city once known as the “Oil Capital of the World.”

Tulsa and its Golden Driller have witnessed many booms – and busts – of the U.S. petroleum industry over the years.

Originally sponsored in 1953 by the Mid-Continent Supply Company of Fort Worth, Texas, the giant proved very popular. So much so that a new version was temporarily erected again for the 1959 International Petroleum Exposition. The oilfield equipment expos would continue for decades at the Tulsa County Free Fair site, which began in 1903.

golden driller old statue  images from Tulsa oil expos

The original Golden Driller of 1953, left, proved so popular that a smaller, rig-climbing version (called The Roustabout) returned for the 1959 International Petroleum Exposition. Images courtesy Tulsa Historical Society.

 

Although again a temporary statue, the 1959 Golden Driller impressed visitors and exhibitors at the oil show.

“This time he was much more chiseled and detailed and was placed climbing a derrick and waving,” notes a Tulsa Historical Society volunteer. Known as “The Roustabout,” the 1959 rig-climbing version again attracted so much attention that Mid-Continent Supply refurbished it and donated it to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds Trust Authority.

“Over the next seven years he had a makeover; actually, he had to be completely re-made to withstand the elements,” explains Nancy “Tulsa Gal” of the Tulsa Historical Society.

golden driller

Mid-Continent Supply Company constructed a permanent version in 1966 with steel rods to withstand up to 200 mph winds. Refurbished again in 1979, it was designated a Oklahoma state monument.

Re-painted it’s usual mustard shade in 2011, today’s Golden Driller was originally created for Tulsa’s 1966 International Petroleum Exposition. The designer was a Greek immigrant named George “Grecco” Hondronastas, an artist who had worked on the 1953 exposition’s statue.

According to the 2014 article by Tony Beaulieu, Hondronastas was an eccentric and prolific artist who was proud of becoming a U.S. citizen through his military service in World War I. Hondronastas, who attended the Art Institute of Chicago and later became a professor, came to Tulsa for the first time in 1953 “to help design and build an early version of the Golden Driller,” Beaulieu explained. “Hondronastas fell in love with the city of Tulsa and later moved his wife and son from Chicago to a duplex near Riverview Elementary School, just south of downtown.”

Beaulieu adds that “Hondronastas was always proud of designing the Golden Driller, and would tell anyone he met, according to his son, Stamatis Hondronastas.” Learn more in An Oil Town’s Golden Idol,originally published in This Land, Vol. 5, Issue 22, November 15, 2014.

The late Tulsa photographer Walter Brewer documented construction of the giant with images later donated to the Tulsa Historical Society. Designated a state monument and refurbished again in 1979 (the year Hondronastas died), the statue as it appears today was permanently installed at the 21st Street and Pittsburg Avenue. It contains a total of 2.5 miles of rods and mesh, according to the Tulsa Historical Society. “Made from plaster and concrete, it can withstand 200 mph winds, which is a good thing here in Oklahoma.”

 golden driller statue with local advertising

The giant has sported t-shirts, belts, beads and ties.This shirt is from the 2014 Tulsa State Fair and KMOD radio. Images courtesy the Tulsa Historical Society.

The Golden Driller’s right hand rests on an old production derrick moved from oilfields near Seminole, Oklahoma – which has its own extensive petroleum heritage.

Fully refurbished in the late 1970s, the Golden Driller – by now a 43,500-pound tourist attraction – is the largest free-standing statue in the world, according to Tulsa city officials. 

“Over time the Driller has seen the good and the bad,” Nancy of the Tulsa Historical Society explains. “He has been vandalized, assaulted by shotgun blasts and severe weather. But he has also had more photo sessions with tourists than any other Tulsa landmark and can boast of many who love him all around the world,” she concludes.

The Golden Driller, a symbol of the International Petroleum Exposition. Dedicated to the men of the petroleum industry who by their vision and daring have created from God’s abundance a better life for mankind. – Inscription on the plaque at the statue’s base.

golden driller circa 1950s giant shoe with model

An unidentified model posed on one of the Golden Driller’s shoes, probably sometime during construction of the permanent version in time for the 1966 petroleum expo.

 

golden driller American Oil and Gas Historical Society field trip members

A 2007 American Oil & Gas Historical Society Energy Education Conference and Field Trip in Oklahoma City included visits to museums in Seminole, Drumright and Tulsa – with a stop at the Golden Driller.

Although the first International Petroleum Exposition and Congress had no giant roughneck statue in 1923, the expo helped make Tulsa famous around the world. Leading oil and gas companies were attracted to Tulsa as early as 1901, six years before Oklahoma became a state (see Red Fork Gusher). An even bigger discovery arrived in 1905 on the Glenn farm south of the booming Oklahoma oil town.

_______________________________

_______________________________

The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Golden Driller of Tulsa.” Author: Aoghs.org Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/oil-almanac/golden-driller-tulsa. Last Updated: May 9, 2020. Original Published Date: March 1, 2006.

Dinosaur Fever – Sinclair’s Icon

“Dino” and Jurassic friends first appeared at the 1933 “Century of Progress” World’s Fair in Chicago.

 

Formed by Harry F. Sinclair in 1916, Sinclair Oil is one of the oldest continuous names in the oil industry. After first appearing in Chicago, “Dino” quickly became a marketing icon whose popularity with children – and educational value – remains to this day.

 

sinclair dinosaur

Today known more correctly as Apatosaurus, in the 1960s a 70-foot “Dino” traveled more 10,000 miles through 25 states – stopping at shopping centers and other venues where children were introduced to the wonders of the Mesozoic era courtesy of Sinclair Oil.

With $50 million in assets, Harry Ford Sinclair borrowed another $20 million and formed Sinclair Oil & Refining Corporation on May 1, 1916. 

Sinclair brought together a collection of several depressed oil properties, five small refineries and many untested leases-all acquired at bargain prices.

In its first 14 months, Sinclair’s New York-based company produces six million barrels of oil for a net income of almost $9 million. The company’s refining capacity grew from 45,000 barrels a day in 1920 to 100,000 barrels in 1926. It reached 150,000 barrels in 1932. 

Sinclair Oil began using an Apatosaurus (then called a Brontosaurus) in its advertising, sales promotions and product labels in 1930. Children loved it.

Sinclair dinosaur

The first Sinclair “Brontosaurus” trademark made its debut in Chicago as an exhibit during the 1933-1934 “Century of Progress” World’s Fair.

Sinclair’s dinosaur exhibit attracted Depression Era crowds at the World’s Fair in Chicago. The company published a special edition newspaper, Big News, describing the popular exhibit.

Sinclair dinosaur

“Sinclair uses dinosaurs in its motor oil adverting to impress on your mind the tremendous age of the crude oils from which Sinclair Motor Oils are made,” proclaimed one Big News article.

Sinclair dinosaur gas station

Sinclair’s first super-fuel is marketed in 1926. The “HC” initials stand for “Houston Concentrate,” but some advertising men prefer the term “High Compression.”

The Sinclair dinosaur exhibit drew large crowds once again at the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition. Four years later, even more visitors marvelled at an improved 70-foot dinosaur in Sinclair’s “Dinoland Pavilion” at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair.

Sinclair’s green giant and his accompanying cast of Jurassic buddies, including Triceratops, Stegosaurus, a duck-billed Hadrosaurus, and a 20-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus Rex – were again a success, especially among young people.

Although it was the first U.S. exposition to be based on the future, with an emphasis “the world of tomorrow,” the Sinclair dinosaurs remained a popular attraction among other innovative exhibits.

Sinclair dinosaur

In 1935, Sinclair dealers will offer dinosaur stamp albums – and soon hand out four million albums and 48 million stamps.

The Westinghouse Company featured “Electro the Moto-Man,” a seven-foot robot that talked and smoked cigarettes. “Dino” and company would return to New York City with even greater acclaim in 1964.

Collecting Sinclair Dinosaur Stamps

Following the Chicago World’s Fair, the oil company recorded its most successful single promotion.

In 1935 the company began published dinosaur stamps – and a  stamp album that could be filled only with colored dinosaur stamps issued one at a time weekly at Sinclair service stations.

The first printing of Sinclair’s dinosaur stamp albums – distributed through its dealers within 48 hours after a single network radio broadcast of the offer – would astound marketing professionals.

“The final totals were 4 million albums and 48 million stamps,” the company  noted about its campaign. “Dino” became an enduring icon of successful petroleum marketing wherever it went.

Refurbished, the 70-foot-long fiberglass green giant and his eight companions – including a large, 45-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex – will return to New York for another world’s fair in 1964-1965.

Sinclair dinosaur

Fifty million New York City visitors attend the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair – with the Sinclair Corporation’s “Dinoland” exhibition among the most popular of all.

 

New York World’s Fair

Sinclair dinosaur

Spectators in 1964 were amazed to see a barge of dinosaurs on the Hudson River.

In early 1964, spectators along the Hudson River were amazed to see a barge crowded with an improved Dino and his kin floating downriver.

The super-sized reptiles were again bound for a New York World’s Fair. One, Triceritops, was delivered by helicopter.

“For the first time in 70 million years a herd of dinosaurs will travel down the Hudson River this month,” noted the September 1963 issue of Popular Science. “Faithfully sculptured and big as life,” noted the magazine, the fiberglass dinosaurs traveled by barge from the Catskill Mountains studio of animal sculptor Louis Paul Jonas, his 18 assistants and paleontologist advisers. 

Sinclair dinosaur

Dismantling of “the great statue that stood in the Sinclair Pavilion of the New York World’s Fair, 1965.” Photo by Robert Walker, the New York Times Archives.

The nine dinosaurs took two months and $250,000 to complete by opening day, April 22, 1964.

By the end of the World’s Fair, about 50 million visitors had marvelled at Sinclair’s “Dinoland” exhibit.

Dino’s travels did not end when the fair closed in October 1965.

After being disassembled and configured for an extended road trip, Dino began visiting shopping centers and other venues where crowds of children were introduced to the wonders of prehistory, courtesy of Sinclair.

Today, many fair visitors fondly remember another attraction of Sinclair’s Dinoland popular Pavilion – “Mold-A-Rama” machines that dispensed warm, plastic dinosaurs for 25 cents.

In July 1966, the Sincalair Dinoland exhibit visited Southdale Mall in Edina, Minnesota, where Andy and Doug Ward were photographed by their father David in front of Triceratops. Photo courtesy Doug Ward.

In July 1966, the Sinclair Dinoland exhibit visited Southdale Mall in Edina, Minnesota, where Andy and Doug Ward were photographed by their father David in front of Triceratops. Photo courtesy Doug Ward.

 

Sinclair Dinosaur

One of the New York World’s Fair dinosaurs would end up in Kansas.

After traveling more 10,000 miles through 25 states and 38 major cities, Dino retired to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas, about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth. He can still be seen there today. The Texas park contains some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks in the world.

Sinclair dinosaur

Sinclair’s historic 70-foot Apatosaurus and a 45-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex today are preserved at Dinosaur Valley State Park, 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, Texas. Photo courtesy Dinosaur Valley State Park.

“There are two fiberglass models,” the park notes, “a 70-foot Apatosaurus and a 45-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex. They were built, under commission of the Sinclair Oil Company, for New York World’s Fair Dinosaur Exhibit of 1964 – 1965.”

Orginal Corythosaurus in Kansas

Sinclair dinosaur

Sinclair Oil Corporation distributed 48 million dinosaur stamps.

Although Sinclair was born in Benwood, West Virginia, today a Wheeling suburb, he grew up in Independence, Kansas.

The Historical Museum of Independence educates visitors with an Oil Room exhibiting Sinclair’s extensive Mid-Continent oilfield production and refining heritage.

On display in a nearby public park is Corythosaurus – one the dinosaurs from Sinclair’s “Dinoland” exhibit at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.

The museum’s Old Post Office building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

“The museum’s permanent exhibits in 22 rooms tell stories of the early settler’ lifestyle; the history of the oil industry; some of the Indian Culture collection and various historical artifacts,” explains the Historical Museum of Independence.

Although later a respected American industrialist, Harry Sinclair was implicated in the 1920s Teapot Dome Scandal. He served six months in prison for jury tampering. He died on November 10, 1956.

Sinclair dinosaur

More than a few young New Work World’s Fair visitors recall Sinclair’s “Mold-A-Rama” machine that made a plastic souvenir dinosaur for 25 cents. “See it formed right before your very eyes!” Children watched as two sides of a mold came together before issuing a dinosaur, still warm.

 

_______________________________

_______________________________

The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Dinosaur Fever – Sinclair’s Icon.” Author: Aoghs.org Editors. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/oil-almanac/sinclair-dinosaur. Last Updated: April 27, 2020. Original Published Date: January 27, 2010.

 

Petroleum History Forum

Updated May, 1, 2020

An resource for questions, comments, and sharing.

The American Oil & Gas Historical Society (AOGHS) established this page as a method to help our members share ideas, especially when seeking detailed information about petroleum history, which AOGHS does not have staff or resources to pursue.

When contacted about oilfield- related family heirlooms, the society maintains the Oil & Gas Families page to help locate suitable museum collections for preserving these unique histories. 

Seeking Historical Information

As noted on the Research & Artifacts page, AOGHS maintains this post as one way to help researchers share ideas and oil and gas historical information. Contact the society at bawells@aoghs.org if you would like your research question added.

Want to help? Please use the comment section to answer or make suggestions for these questions. Simply post your answers in the comment section at the end of this post.

Cities Service Bowling Teams

I was wondering if there are any records or pictures of bowling leagues and teams for Cities Service in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Houston, Texas, or Lafayette, Louisiana. I would appreciate any information. My dad was on the team. — Lisa

Oilfield Storage Tanks

My family has a farm in western PA and once had a small oil pump on the land. I’m trying to learn how the oil was transported from the pump. I know a man came in a truck more than once each week to turn on the pump and collect oil, but I don’t know if there was a holding tank, how he filled his truck, etc. (My mother was a child there in the ’40s and simply can’t recall how it all worked.) Can anyone point me at a resource that would explain such things? I’m working on a children’s book and need to get it right. Thank you. — Lauren

Author seeking Historical Oil Prices

Can anyone at AOGHS tell me what the ballpark figures are in the amount of petroleum products so far extracted, versus how much oil-gas is left in the world? Also: the price per barrel of oil every decade from the 1920s to the present. And the resulting price per gallon during the decades from 1920 to the present year? I have almost completed my book about an independent oilman — John

Painting related to Standard Oil (ESSO)

ESSO painting I am researching an old oil painting on canvas that appears to be a gift to Esso Standard Corp. Subject: Iris flowers. There is some damage due to age but it is quite interesting. The painting appears to be signed in upper right corner: Hirase?

On the back, along each side, is Japanese writing that I think translates to “Congratulations Esso Standard” and “the Tucker Corporation” or “the Naniwa Tanker Corporation.” Date unknown, possibly 1920s.

I am not an expert in art nor Japanese culture, so some of my translation could be incorrect. I was hoping you or your colleagues might shed some light on this painting. — Nancy

Early Gasoline Pumps

For the smaller, early stations from around 1930, was the gas stored in a tank in the ground below the dispenser/pump?– Chris



Oilfield Jet Engines

I was wondering about a neat aspect of oil and natural gas production; namely, the use of old, retired aircraft jet engines to produce power at remote oil company locations, and to pump gas/liquid over long distances in pipelines. Does anyone happen to recall what year a jet engine was first employed by the industry for this purpose? Nowadays, there is an interesting company called S&S Turbine Services Ltd. (based at Fort St. John, British Columbia) that handles all aspects of maintenance, overhaul and rebuilding for these industrial jets. — Lindsey

Natalie O. Warren Propane Tanker Memorabilia

My father spent his working life with Lone Star Gas, he is gone many years now I am getting on. Going through a few of his things. A little book made up that he received when he and my mother attended the commissioning of the Natalie O. Warren Propane Tanker. I am wondering if it is of any value to anyone. Or any museum. — Bill

Elephant Advertising of Skelly Oil

My grandfather owned a Skelly service station in Sidney, Iowa in the 1930s and 1940s. I have a photo of him with an elephant in front of the station. I recall reading somewhere that Skelly had this elephant touring from station to station as an advertising stunt. Does anyone have any more history on the live elephant tour for Skelly Oil? I’d love to find out more. —  Jeff

Tree Stumps Oilfield Architecture

I am a graduate student at the Architectural Association in London working on a project that looks at the potential use of tree stumps as structural foundations. While researching I found the following extract from an article on The Petroleum Industry of the Gulf Coast Salt Dome Area in the early 20th century: “In the dense tangle of the cypress swamp, the crew have to carry their equipment and cut a trail as they go. Often they use a tree stump as solid support on which they set up their instruments.” I have been struggling to find any photos or drawings of how this system would have worked (i.e. how the instruments were supported by the stump) I was wondering if you might know where I could find any more information? — Andrew



2019

Texas Road Oil Patch Trip

“Hi, next year we are planning a road trip in the United States that starts in Dallas, Texas, heading to Amarillo and then on to New Mexico and beyond. We will be following the U.S. 287 most of the way to Amarillo and would like to know of any oil fields we could visit or simply photograph on the way. From Amarillo we plan to take the U.S. 87. We realise this is quite a trivial request but you help would be much appreciated.” — KristinAntique Calculators: Slide Rules – Here’s a question about those analog calculating devices that became obsolete when electronic pocket calculators arrived in the early 1970s…Learn more in Refinery Supply Company Slide Rule.

Antique Calculator: The Slide Rule

Here’s a question about those analog calculating devices that became obsolete when electronic pocket calculators arrived in the early 1970s…Learn more in Refinery Supply Company Slide Rule.

—————

The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. Contact the society at bawells@aoghs.org if you would like a research question added. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.