Phyliss sig horse and sunsetThere’s three things we Texans know about … oil, gas and cattle.

I was standing outside late in the evening a couple of nights ago with the wind from the west surrounding me with the scent of a cattle yard some twenty-five miles west of us. It had been one of our rare hot, humid days.  If you haven’t “enjoyed”, and I use that term with a smile on my face and a chuckle, that particular odor, you haven’t smelled money.

Another scent that we all are accustomed to in the Texas Panhandle is the odor of oil and gas wells.  Today, I’d like to talk a bit about probably the best known gusher of all times … Spindletop.

Beginning with the progressive years in and around 1900, Texas remained heavily agricultural, rural, and southern, three changes pointed toward a very different future for the Lone Star State.  The first can be summarized in one word:  OIL!

Texans had known for years that crude petroleum seeped from their state’s soil, and Lyne T. Barret (a/k/a Lynis T. Barrett) actually drilled a producing well near Nacogdoches in 1866.  However, significant commercial production did not begin until 1894, when well drillers seeking water near Corsicana struck oil instead.  The Corsicana field, developed primarily by Joseph S. Cullinan, a Pennsylvania oilman, produced more than 800,000 barrels per day.

The strike at Spindletop, a small hill supposedly named for a cypress three that stood on it,cowboys and oilwellsCA11QMHS was due primarily to the persistence of Pattillo Higgins, a native of southeast Texas who became interested in oil and gas as a source of energy for manufacturing brick and glass.  After becoming a near-laughingstock for his many failures to find petroleum in the salt domes south of Beaumont, Higgins interested an Austrian-born engineer named Anthony F. Lucas in the project.  Lucas obtained funding in 1900, and on January 10th of the next year his drillers, using a new type of rotary bit, brought in a gusher that blew through the top of the drilling derrick.  During the nine days before the well could be capped, a sea of oil collected in the area around it.

Eventually, a passing train set fire to the oil and sent clouds of smoke northward where rain coming down through this black smoke ruined the paint on most of the houses in Beaumont.”

Production in the Spindletop field, which reached 17,500,000 barrels in 1902, created the state’s first great oil boom.

Cheating a little bite, I’m quoting directly from one of my friends, Natalie Bright, a fellow author and vice-president of an independent oil and gas company, who wrote in her book “Oil People” … “Can you imagine life without some of these petroleum-based products?

School:  crayons, rulers, computers, glue, tape, plastic folders;

Home:  food wraps, telephones, paint, trash cans;

Fun:  football helmets, beach balls, sunglasses, flip flops;

Health:  artificial limbs, pacemakers, soft contact lenses; and

Pets:  flea collars, dog leashes, bird feeders, Frisbees.”

Now that I got you started, what product would you miss more if people like Barret, Cullinan, Lucas, and Higgins, along with many other men and women, hadn’t continued bringing us oil and their by-products?  If you’re under twenty, I know the answer “flip flops”! 

The Troubled Texan Good


To one lucky winner who leaves a comment, I’m giving away an Amazon Gift Certificate to purchase my most current contemporary romance and the first in the Kasota Springs Romance Series, “The Troubled Texan”.  To a second winner, I have a Bath and Bodyworks Gift Certificate I’m dying to give away.

To learn more about “Oil People” by Natalie Bright visit her website at:  http://nataliebright.com.



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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at phylissmiranda.com

43 thoughts on “Spindletop”

  1. Hello Phyliss. This was a very important post. I can’t imagine how oil helped make most of the items you listed. And, as to what I would miss most it would be a hard pick. I was already thinking of the oil for my car. I know I could get along without a car, but life would be hard. I would hate to depend on someone else everytime I needed to go somewhere. I had a sister and sis-in-law who never did learn to drive. And, of course I would be lost it seems without my computer, but I survived just fine without one until 2009. Somethings hit right at the top on most important things. Like my glasses, telephone, and such very important things like pacemakers and artificial limbs., but flip-flops would be at the bottom of my list. Who woulda thought oil for them? Guess I just don’t know much. I do know I would love to be your winner. Thanks, Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  2. What a great post, Phyliss! Thank you so very much. Our world without things made from oil would certainly be different from the one we know now. Our dependency on so many things is great. This Texas gal wants the oil to keep pumping!

    melback at cebridge dot net

  3. Interesting post, Phyliss! I knew about Spindletop (you can’t live in Texas and not learn something about it) but I didn’t know its story.

    As to what I’d miss–sunglasses! I can’t open my eyes in the sunshine without them. lol

  4. I didn’t realize that so many products are petroleum based. I would miss my telephone and my computer the most. Closely followed by tape, food wrap and trash cans.
    All are things I use daily.

  5. I’d never heard of Spindletop, but I’m in Ohio. If I could only choose one thing it would be my car. I’d imagine that it has a lot of petroleum-based parts in it. And of course the gas it needs to run. I live so far from the grocery that walking isn’t an option, and riding a bike in the snow or a rain shower wouldn’t be too much fun.

  6. This really is an interesting topic. It’s one of those things you don’t really think about until it is brought up. I don’t want to know what life would be like without gas or petroleum based products. I would miss everything.

  7. I love this, Phyliss!! Very interesting and full of lots of great information. You give me so much to think about. One thing that comes to mind is tires. Without tires on our cars and bicycles we’d have to walk…or ride a horse everywhere we went. Aside from being very healthy, we’d sure be exhausted and sweaty. LOL

    Another thing would be the shingles on our houses. We’d be in a real pickle when it rained or snowed. Guess we’d have to go back to putting grass on our roofs.

    Wishing you much success with THE TROUBLED TEXAN! I love how you used future generations of our people from the anthologies.

  8. Wow, I had no clue!! Oh man, I have no idea where to start on what I would miss. 🙂 For sure phones are on the top somewhere. Great post.

  9. LOL.. the things we take for granted! Thanks for such an informative post and congrats Phyliss on the new release!

  10. Wow that is a lot of things made from petroleum. I never knew haha. Anyway I was interested in what you said so I thought I would look up more things made from petroleum. I found out that panty hose was made from petroleum. but the thing I think I would miss the most would be toilet seats hhahah. Thanks for the great post

  11. Hi Phyliss, great info on Spindletop. I know we depend on petroleum for a lot of things, and yes I love my computer and smartphone, but I’m also in favor of looking for alternatives. I just got a hybrid electric car. LOVE the cover!

  12. I am intrigued with this exceptional post which provides us with so much for so many popular items which we need and use daily. Best wishes and much happiness and success.

  13. Hi Phyliss – I learned everything I know about oil in Texas from the show Dallas! Seriously, though, I’ve been to Texas many times and can relate to those scents. Especially the cattle, since my FIL lives in ranch country. Love, love the colors of your new book!

  14. I read all about Spindletop when researching Gingham Mountain. Oil back in those days was just seeping out of the group, fouling water, a nuisance.
    Learning to use it was so huge!

    I could write about oil for a long time. I’ll just shut up, but I loved Spindletop and you’ve taught me things I didn’t know, or maybe don’t remember. 🙂

  15. Hi Maxie, good to see you. You made some good comments, thanks. I guess we probably wouldn’t have to worry about gas for our cars without gas because so much of our cars are made from oil byproducts. Can you imagine driving an aluminum or steel only car … probably like the old model T! Sure would be a rough ride, but in those days the pioneers were a lot tougher than today. Thanks for stopping by. Big hugs from Texas, Phyliss

  16. Hi Melanie B, one Texas gal to another … I’m with you–keep that oil flowing. To be honest, until I read Natalie’s book, which is directed to middle graders, I never gave to thought to all the things we use day in and day out that we wouldn’t have with oil. Gave me food for thought. Hugs, Phyliss

  17. The people who run down the oil industry should read your post. Where would we be without the oil.

  18. It is surprising how many products have it in it… I guess I would really miss my computer and the arts & craft products… I use quite a bit of tape and glue for things… thanks for sharing! 🙂

  19. Hi Cathy, good to see you. I hope you win! Hugs, Phyliss

    Tracy, sweet Sister Filly, I’m with you about the sunglasses. My son in law left a history book on Texas here last weekend and it fell open to the Spindletop page. I knew about it, yet didn’t know a lot, so I took it was a sign. It was fun to explore and I was glad to found more information in Nat’s middle reader on oil. It has been fun seeing what things people would and would not miss if the oil supply dried up, which isn’t gonna happen! Hugs to you, my friend, Phyliss

  20. Hi Laurie G, I think few of us have spent much if any time thinking about what the by-products of oil give us to make our lives so much easier. I love your list. Hugs, Phyliss

  21. Amy C, thanks for dropping by and I’m always thrilled when I do a blog on something that a lot of people don’t know about, particular it’s history. I always learn a ton with research. Hugs, Phyliss

    Hi anon1001. I guess that’s the part of writing, particular historicals, that I like the most. Educating myself by researching then if I can teach others that’s even better. I think that’s why I love to be a Filly here. Everyone has so much to offer with their research and education. Thanks for stopping by. Hugs, Phyliss

  22. ellie and Pearl, thanks for reading my post and leaving a comment. Like I said earlier, I kinda knew how many things come from the oil industry; however, never gave any specific things a thought until I saw that list. WOW, to the items you all have added! But then our ancestors did without these items. Interesting, isn’t it.

    Thanks to both of you and your names are in the pot for a copy of the book and the Bed and Body Works gift certificate. Have a wonderful afternoon. Hugs, Phyliss

  23. Hi Phyliss, never thought about it this way before, but since I’ve smelled cattle I guess I can honestly say I’ve smelled money. I could do without the flip-flops, but love my computer (most of the time.

  24. Great post! I will have to say I am way above twenty but I would sure miss my Flo Jo flip flops because I live in them. Also would miss my computer.

  25. Very interesting info on Texas and what all Texans know about. I have been thinking about the three things the people in my birth state know about……snow, snow, and more snow. Can you guess it is Colorado? And the state where I grew up in it would be desert, desert , more desert and the Grand Canyon. Arizona, of course. I think the Texans got the best deal.

  26. Hi Charlene, if anybody has ever smelled a feed yard in the middle of summer when it’s hot and there has been rain, it’s a order that never goes away! LOL At least the wind generators don’t smell. But oil, of course, does. I love your comment about learning about oil from “Dallas”. It’s fairly true. LOL
    Have a great evening, Miss Charlene. Hugs, Phyliss

  27. Thanks, Mary. I’m sure you know the subject inside and out because of your research. I love to research, as you know, so probably I use about 2% of what I’ve learned in a new story. I know I used Bat Masterson as a character in a chapter as a local poker player (he was actually in this area, so I could get by with it historically) but I read three books on him to get his syntex down and his personality. All for about ten pages. The funniest thing happened. Although he was a very serious gambler, he also liked a good joke, so I wrote my story where he’s distracted by my heroine and thought it was a joke himself and went along with it. He ended up losing. I got slaughtered by a reader, telling me that I should have studied Masterson more because he was such a serious player that he would have never folded for any woman. I wanted to ask her if she’d ever heard of Molly Brennen, who is buried about 80 miles from where I live. She’s the reason Masterson had to use a cane, because of a shooting that killed her. Have a great evening, Sister Filly. Hugs, Phyliss

  28. Hi Goldie, thanks for stopping by. Good to see you. Got you in the drawing! Hope you win.

    Colleen, I total agree with your list. We forget about tape and art supplies. There are just so many things that we take for granted. Good to hear from you.

    Ladies, I hope both of you have a wonderful evening. Hugs from Texas, Phyliss

  29. Hi Margeret, good to see you and thanks for commenting. Yelp, money does have a smell, doesn’t it. I think as of right now computers are leading in things we couldn’t live without, but I did have one flip-flop answer. Hugs to my Sister Filly, Phyliss

  30. Hi Quilt Lady. Here’s my flip-flop lady. I know my kids in California live in flip-flops. I’m nearly in old ladies shoes now. I’ve decided comfy trumps cute shoes. I wore my share of those when I was younger, and the higher the better! Thanks for leaving a comment, friend. Hugs, Phyliss

    JackieW, one of the nice things about the Texas Panhandle vs. some parts of Texas we do get our share of snow. But, it can snow several inches at night and early morning and by getting off time, it’ll all be melted except right up next to the buildings facing north or south. It’s nice. We didn’t get a lot this year, but maybe next year. I love the Grand Canyon. My DH and I took our three youngest grands (at the time) to the Grand Canyon. My grandson and PawPa went off by themselves to see the sunset and some things, while I took the girls back to the cabin. I was beginning to get a little worried because the sun had gone down and they hadn’t returned. Suddently the door flew open and Alex said, “Granny, we got lost in the Grand Canyon” while PawPa said, “We missed the last tram back and had to walk.” That a great example of how an adult thinks and a kid thinks. We love it there and now have younger sisters and brothers to take there this summer!

    Ladies, thanks for dropping by. Hugs to both of you, Phyliss

  31. Thank you for the interesting post. The main petroleum products I would miss would be the medical supplies so many people rely on.

    As for the stock yards. My husband was in the AF and they used to fly into Clovis, NM. There were two main comments by the crew members. The steaks were great and the smell was overpowering.

    Always enjoy the posts here at P&P.

  32. The more I think about it I think I would miss the most is crayons. Not having those wonderful pieces of art my kiddos make me would be a sad day.

  33. Very interesting. I had no idea about most of these petroleum based products! I would have to say soft contact lenses! After years of hard lenses they are so nice and comfortable to wear! Thanks for sharing this information!

  34. In 1834/1835, Dr. John Allen Veatch chose the land-now know as Spindletop-as payment from the Mexican Government for surveying. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fve02

    The land was difficult for the family to keep. In fact, during the time that JAV was serving as a Texas Ranger,there was an attempt to swindle the land. Simon Weiss, Benjamin Lindsey and others knew Dr. Veatch believed that there was oil underneath the soil in Jefferson County and also the land he claimed as payment in Sour Lake. They devised a plan to take the land. Weiss and Lindsey approached the now widowed Mahala Hall and offered her $300 to sign a document deeding the land in Jefferson County to them, knowing that Dr. Veatch had never signed nor sold the land over to the widow. This was eventually disproved and at that time the family was allowed to keep the land. (Source-Court Records: Answers to Interrogatories by Samuel Houston Veatch) SHV agreed to give the railroad a right of way through the land, unfortunately-they took possession and the courts agreed.

    I have to agree with Nancy M. Love my contacts!

  35. Wow. I never considered what all was made with oil. I have always just thought about the ability to go from one place to another with my car, as it relates to the need for oil based products. Looking at your list, it is hard to determine what I would be able to forgo in order to not have oil.

  36. Great post. Don’t know what I would miss most, my car running and my computer I guess. Being a native Texan I’ve heard about Spindletop all my life.

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