Wayne’s Self-Measuring Pump

From kerosene to gasoline, an 1892 Wayne Oil Tank & Pump Company dispenser preserves petroleum history.


Wayne D. Lease of White Salmon, Washington, owns an 1892 self-measuring pump designed to dispense kerosene. His pump was one of just 50 manufactured by the Wayne Oil Tank & Pump Company during its first year of business in Wayne, Indiana. Lease, who has researched pump’s manufacturing history, owns the rare petroleum technology artifact.

Originally designed for selling kerosene at mercantile stores, the Wayne company self-measuring pump was later adapted for dispensing gasoline instead of kerosene, according to its current owner.

Original 1892 Wayne Oil Tank Company pump.

Original 1892 Wayne Oil Tank Company pump, one of just 50 manufactured to dispense kerosene during the company’s first year of business in Wayne, Indiana.

“My research indicates the Wayne pump was never manufactured to be used for gasoline, but rather kerosene only,” Lease noted in a December 2020 email to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society.

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He explained that many researchers of gasoline service station pumps have overlooked Wayne and other manufacturers’ altered pumps, “best defined as an ‘after strike,’ which allowed the use in the transfer of the more volatile gasoline.”

Self-measuring pump venders made good use of a dispenser that had become less needed because of electric lighting, Lease added.

The original Wayne Oil Tank & Pump Company design was limited to the specific use of kerosene as a lamp fuel, Lease explained. Kerosene was sold in the general stores of rural America, where stores were often found at stage coach stops 15 miles to 25 miles apart.

Kerosene lamp fuel would be joined by a new transportation fuel in the early 1900s, gasoline for autos. “Small cities now become the hub of commerce on a larger scale with the introduction of the combustion engine,” he added. Kerosene would succumb to the Rural Electrification Act (1936) as gasoline became the U.S. consumer’s primary need.

“The Wayne pump, one of fifty made in1892, was then certified for the use of the transfer of Gasoline, and the vender made good use of what had become obsolete,” the amateur pump historian concluded in his 2020 email to AOGHS. He continues to research more information about the pump.

Original 1892 Wayne Oil Tank Company pump, one of just 50 manufactured to dispense kerosene during the company's first year of business in Wayne, Indiana.

Detailed Wayne pump measurement scale for accurate dispensing of kerosene and later, gasoline.

“It is in immaculate condition as you can see by the photographs, Lease noted in his email to AOGHS. He is seeking more information about the pump…and a potential petroleum museum interested in adding the Wayne pump to its collection.  Comments are welcomed below.

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Learn more early transportation and gasoline pump history in First Gas Pump and Service Station and Coin-Operated Gas Pumps.

Wayne Fueling Systems

History from the former Wayne Oil Tank Company, today still operating as Wayne Fueling Systems:

Wayne has been shaping the retail and fleet fueling industry since we designed our first pump in 1891.  We were known as the Wayne Oil Tank Company back then, and from the very beginning we were developing a reputation for quality.

View of trade show display for Wayne Oil Tank and Pump Company equipment.

Trade show display for Wayne Oil Tank and Pump Company equipment, showing gasoline and oil pumps. Sign for Wayne Oil Tank & Pump Co. in background. Handwritten note on back: “Service stations, 1910. Gasoline pump.” Photo courtesy Detroit Public Library.

In fact, this inaugural product won the distinction “The Best Self Measuring Oil Pump” at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago just two years later. Once the motor vehicle entered the scene, our purpose and mission was solidified – to create a reliable, accurate way for motorists to refuel cars...Learn more at About Wayne Fueling Systems.


Recommended Reading: Pump and Circumstance: Glory Days of the Gas Station (1993). 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 © 2022 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Oil Riches of Merriman Baptist Church.” Authors: B.A. Wells and K.L. Wells. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/oil-almanac/oil-riches-of-merriman-baptist-church. Last Updated: March 11, 2022. Original Published Date: July 14, 2021. 


America on the Move


The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., has educated millions of visitors about America’s transportation history since “America on the Move” opened on the first floor’s east wing in November 2003.

The popular museum’s General Motors Hall of Transportation exhibits include the 1903 Winton that was the first car to drive across the country; a 1959 Chicago Transit Authority “L” mass transit car; and a 260-ton locomotive built in 1926; and detailed descriptions about the history U.S. Route 66, the “People’s Highway.” There’s also a red, 1931 Ford truck representing a Shawnee, Oklahoma, oilfield service company.

Route 66 exhibit in Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

An exhibit about the history of Route 66 — commissioned in 1926 and fully paved by the late 1930s — is part of the Transportation Hall at the National Museum of American History. Photo by Bruce Wells.

The $22 million Transportation Hall encompasses 26,000 square feet and displays more than 340 historic objects. The space features 19 historic settings in chronological order reflecting the nation’s relationship with great and small roadways.

“America on the Move replaces exhibits of road and rail transportation and civil engineering installed when the National Museum of American History opened as the Museum of History and Technology in 1964,” notes the American on the Move website page notes.

“We would not do an exhibit about cars and trains, or even a transportation history exhibit. It would be an exhibit about transportation in American history,” the site adds.

The Smithsonian's exhibit includes the history behind creation of the interstate highway system.

The Smithsonian’s exhibit includes the history behind creation of the interstate highway system. Photo by Bruce Wells.

“America on the Move” features the Smithsonian’s extensive transportation collection using multimedia technology — and a large displays, including PS-4 class steam locomotive (No. 1401) built in 1926. The exhibition educates visitors about the history of U.S. transportation infrastructure, and “reveals America’s fascination with life on the road.” (more…)

America exports Oil

The nervous crew of Elizabeth Watts shipped hundreds of barrels of petroleum from Philadelphia to London during the Civil War.


The 19th century U.S. petroleum industry launched many new industries for producing, refining, and transporting the highly sought after resource. With oil demand rapidly growing worldwide, America exported oil (and kerosene) during the Civil War when a small Union brig sailed across the Atlantic.

The cargo brig Elizabeth Watts transported the first oil exports in 1861.

Launched in 1847 by the shipbuilding firm of J. & C.C. Morton of Thomaston, Maine, the Elizabeth Watts was about 96 feet long with a draft of 11 feet. The 224-ton brig made petroleum history during the Civil War.

Soon after Edwin L. Drake drilled the first American oil well in 1859 along a creek in northwestern Pennsylvania, entrepreneurs swept in and wooden derricks sprang up in Venango and Crawford counties.

As demand for oil-refined kerosene for lamps grew, oilfield discoveries created early boom towns like one at Pithole. Moving the resource from oilfields also brought the beginning of the petroleum industry’s transportation infrastructure.

“Doubt and distrust that preceded Drake’s successful venture suddenly fled before the common conviction that an oil well was the ‘open sesame’ to wealth,” reported Harpers New Monthly Magazine. After his historic discovery near Titusville, Drake bought up all the 40-gallon whiskey barrels he could find to transport his oil on barges down the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh refineries. (more…)

Houston Ship Channel

President Woodrow Wilson opened maritime project to support petrochemical facilities.


The Houston Ship Channel, the “port that built a city,” opened for ocean-going vessels on November 10, 1914, making Texas home to a world-class commercial port. President Woodrow Wilson saluted the occasion from his desk in the White House by pushing an ivory button wired to a cannon in Houston.

A band played the National Anthem from a barge in the center of the Turning Basin while Sue Campbell, daughter of Houston Mayor Ben Campbell, sprinkled white roses into the water from the top deck of the U.S. Revenue Cutter WINDOM. “I christen thee Port of Houston; hither the boats of all nations may come and receive hearty welcome,” she said. — Port of Houston history website.

1915 postcard of vessels in the Houston Ship Channel.

An image from a 1915 postcard of the Houston Ship Channel. One year earlier, President Woodrow Wilson officially opened the newly dredged waterway. Photo courtesy Fort Bend Museum, Richmond, Texas.

The original waterway — known as Buffalo Bayou — was “swampy, marshy and overgrown with dense vegetation,” explains the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The bayou had been used to ship goods to the Gulf of Mexico as early as the 1830s.

houston ship channel

The Houston Ship Channel on Buffalo Bayou leads upstream to Houston – where downtown can be seen at top right. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library.

“Steamboats and shallow draft boats were the only vessels able to navigate its complicated channel,” ASCE adds about the waterway. In 1837, the steamship Laura traveled from Galveston Bay up Buffalo Bayou to what is now Houston, according to the Port of Houston Authority of Harris County.

The steamship’s trip, in water no deeper than six feet, proved the bayou was navigable by sizable vessels and established a commercial link between Houston and the rest of the world. 

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“In 1909, Harris County citizens formed a navigation district (an autonomous governmental body charged with supervising the port) and issued bonds to fund half the cost of dredging the channel,” the ASCE website notes. 

Under continuous development since its original construction, the 50-mile-long Houston Ship Channel today is 45 feet deep and up to 530 feet wide. The waterway supports Texas oil refineries and among the largest petrochemical facilities in the world. 

A "Bird's Eye" view of Houston in 1891.

A “Bird’s Eye” view of Houston in 1891. Today’s Port of Houston is ranked first in foreign cargo and among the largest ports in the world. Map image courtesy Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.

“With the discovery of oil at Spindletop in 1901 and crops such as rice beginning to rival the dominant export crop of cotton, Houston’s ship channel needed the capacity to handle newer and larger vessels,” explains the Port Authority, which administers the channel.

Oil museum in Beaumont, Texas, includes refinery exhibit.

A museum in Beaumont, Texas, includes refinery exhibits for educating young people about the Port of Houston. Photo courtesy The Texas Energy Museum.

Harris County voters in January 1910 overwhelming approved dredging their ship channel to a depth of 25 feet for $1.25 million. The U.S. Congress provided matching funds. As work began in 1912, similar extraordinary maritime projects of the time included the Panama Canal and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

By 1930 eight refineries are operating along the deep water channel, ASCE notes. The area eventually supported one of the largest petrochemical complexes in the world with a shoreline of petrochemical facilities and oil refineries, including ExxonMobil’s Baytown Refinery, among the largest in the United States.

The modern Houston Ship Channel has been extended from the Gulf through Galveston Bay and up the San Jacinto River, ending four miles east of downtown. 

Although the dredging vessel Texas first signaled (by whistle) completion on September 7, 1914, the official opening date has remained when President Wilson remotely fired his Texas cannon on November 10.


Recommended Reading:  Sheer Will: The Story of the Port of Houston and the Houston Ship Channel (2014). 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 © 2022 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Citation Information: Article Title – “Houston Ship Channel of 1914.” Authors: B.A. Wells and K.L. Wells. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/transportation/houston-ship-channel. Last Updated: November 6, 2022. Original Published Date: November 25, 2014.


Horace Horton’s Spheres

Chicago Bridge & Iron Company erected a spherical pressure vessel in 1923.


Seen from the highway, they look like giant eggs or perhaps fanciful Disney architectural projects. A Chicago bridge builder invented these storage globes, once constructed by riveting together wrought iron plates. Today’s highly pressured spherical vessels are key to storing and transporting liquified natural gas (LNG).

Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I) officially named their “Hortonspheres” (also called Horton spheres) after Horace Ebenezer Horton (1843-1912), the company founder and designer of water towers and rounded storage vessels. His son George would patent designs standing among the great innovations to come to the oil patch.

A row of giant, white Hortonspheres for storing LNG.

Hortonspheres, the trademarked name of massive containers for storing and transporting liquified natural gas (LNG), were invented by a bridge building company.

Horace Horton, grew up in Chicago, where he became skilled in mechanical engineering. He was 46 years old when he formed CB&I in 1889. His company prospered, building seven bridges across the Mississippi River. 

Horton then expanded the company’s Washington Heights, Illinois, fabrication plant to begin manufacturing water tanks. It was a decision that would bring water towers to hundreds of towns. 

Patent drawing of a Hortonsphere and its support pylons.

Horace Ebenezer Horton (1843-1912) founded the company that would build the world’s first “field-erected spherical pressure vessel.”

CB&I erected its first elevated water tank in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in 1892, according to the company, which has noted that “the elevated steel plate tank was the first built with a full hemispherical bottom, one of the company’s first technical innovations.”

When Horton died in 1912, his company was just getting started. Soon, the company’s elevated tank towers were providing efficient water storage and pipeline pressure that benefited many cities and towns. CB&I’s first elevated “Watersphere” tank was completed in 1939 in Longmont, Colorado.

Improved Oilfield Structures

The company had brought its steel plate engineering expertise to the oil and natural gas industry as early as 1919, when it built a petroleum tank farm in Glenrock, Wyoming, for Sinclair Refining Company (formed by Harry Sinclair in 1916).

Horace E. Horton designed spherical storage vessels called Hortonspheres

Horace E. Horton’s company designed spherical storage vessels for his Chicago Bridge & Iron Company. Photo courtesy CB&I.

CB&I’s innovative steel plate structures and its tank building technologies proved a great success. The company left bridge building entirely to supply the petroleum infrastructure market.

Chicago Bridge and Iron Company 1912 sales book with Hotonspheres.

A spherically bottomed water tower shown in the Chicago Bridge & Iron Company 1912 sales book.

Newly discovered oilfields in Ranger, Texas, in 1917 and Seminole, Oklahoma, in the 1920s were straining the nation’s petroleum storage capacity. A lack of pipelines and storage facilities in booming West Texas was a big problem.

In the Permian Basin, an exploration company’s executives were desperate to store soaring oil production. They hired engineers to design an experimental tank capable of holding up to five million barrels of oil at Monahans, Texas. Construction in early 1928 took three months working 24 hours a day.

Roxana Petroleum Company’s massive storage structure used concrete-coated earthen walls 30 feet tall. The oil reservoir was covered with a cedar roof to slow evaporation. But when no solution could be found for leaking seams, the oil storage attempt was abandoned.

The concrete oval, which briefly became a water park in 1958, later became home to Monahans’ Million Barrel Museum.

By 1923, CB&I’s storage innovations like its “floating roof” oil tank had greatly increased safety and profitability as well as setting industry standards. That year the company built its first Hortonsphere in Port Arthur, Texas.

Liquefied Natural Gas

Soon, spherical vessels of all sizes were being used for storage of compressed gases such propane and butane. Hortonspheres also hold liquefied natural gas (LNG) produced by cooling natural gas at atmospheric pressure to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point it liquefies. 

In an iconic engineering example of form following function, a sphere is the ideal shape for a vessel that resists internal pressure.2022 AOGHS Membership Ad

In the first Port Arthur installation and up until about 1941, the component steel plates were riveted; thereafter, welding allowed for increased pressures and vessel sizes. As metallurgy and welding advances brought tremendous gains in Hortonspheres’ holding capacities, they also have proven to be an essential part of the modern petroleum refining business.

CB&I constructed fractionating towers for many petroleum refineries, beginning with Standard Oil of Louisiana at Baton Rouge in 1930. The company also built a giant, all-welded 80,000 barrel oil storage tank in New Jersey.

Since its first sphere in 1923, Chicago Bridge & Iron by 2013 had fabricated more than 3,500 Hortonspheres for worldwide markets in capacities reaching more than three million gallons. The company has reported being the top spherical storage container builder worldwide.

Poughkeepsie Hortonsphere

Fascinated by geodesic domes and similar structures, Jeff Buster discovered a vintage Hortonsphere in Poughkeepsie, New York. In 2012 he contacted the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

A Hortonsphere viewed in 2012 in Poughkeepsie, New York.

A Hortonsphere viewed in 2012 from the “Walkway over the Hudson” in Poughkeepsie, New York. It was dismantled in 2013. Photo courtesy Jeff Buster.

Buster wanted the agency to save Horton’s sphere at at the corner of Dutchess and North Water streets. He asked that an effort be made “to preserve this beautiful and unique ‘form following function’ structure, which is in immediate risk of being demolished.”

Buster posted a photo of the Poughkeepsie Hortonsphere on a website devoted to geodesic domes. “The jig saw pattern of steel plates assembled into this sphere is unique,” he wrote.

“The lay-out pattern is repeated four times around the vertical axis of the tank,” Buster added. “With the rivets detailing the seams, the sphere is extremely cool and organic feeling.”

Although the steel tank, owned by Central Hudson Gas and Electric Company, was demolished in late 2013, Buster’s photo helps preserve its oil patch legacy.

Liquified Natural Gas at Sea

Sphere technology became seaborn as well. On February 20, 1959, after a three-week voyage from Lake Charles, Louisiana, the Methane Pioneer — the world’s first LNG tanker — arrived at the world’s first LNG terminal at Canvey Island, England.

Illustration of  liquified natural gas tanks inside an LNG taker.

Ships began transporting liquified natural gas as early as 1959. Modern LNG tankers are many times larger and protected with double hulls.

The Methane Pioneer, a converted World War II liberty freighter, contained five, 7,000-barrel aluminum tanks supported by balsa wood and insulated with plywood and urethane. The 1959 successful voyage across the Atlantic demonstrated that large quantities of liquefied natural gas could be transported safely across the ocean.

Most modern LNG carriers have between four and six tanks on the vessel. New classes have a cargo capacity of between 7.4 million cubic feet and 9.4 million cubic feet. The ships are equipped with their own re-liquefaction plant.

In 2015 — about 100 years after Horace Ebenezer Horton died — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced it was building next-generation LNG carriers to transport the shale gas produced in North America.


Recommended Reading: The Extraction State, A History of Natural Gas in America (2021). 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 © 2022 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Horace Horton’s Spheres.” Authors: B.A. Wells and K.L Wells. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: https://aoghs.org/transportation/hortonspheres/. Last Updated: September 21, 2022. Original Published Date: December 14, 2016.



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