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, 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”!
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.