March 18, 2020  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 1, No. 3 

Oil & Gas History News

Welcome to our monthly look at some important U.S. petroleum history milestones – and perhaps a brief respite from the sad health news, cancellations, market declines, etc. With many community museums now temporarily closed, educators and students are turning to online historical content, including the American Oil & Gas Historical Society website and its updated This Week in Petroleum History

Monthly Highlights from “This Week in Petroleum History”

 Links to articles from four weeks of U.S. oil and natural gas history, including oilfield discoveries, new technologies, petroleum products, and more. Each week included:

March 17, 1949 – First Commercial Application of Hydraulic Fracturing A team from Halliburton and Stanolind companies converged on an oil well about 12 miles east of Duncan, Oklahoma, and performed the first commercial application of hydraulic fracturing. A 1947 experiment had fractured a natural gas well in Hugoton, Kansas, and proven the possibility of increased productivity…MORE 

March 11, 1829 – Kentucky’s Great American Oil Well Boring for brine with a simple spring-pole device on a farm near Burkesville, Kentucky, Martin Beatty found oil at 171 feet deep. Disappointed, he searched for salt deposits elsewhere. Because oil from his well would later be bottled and sold, some historians consider Beatty’s discovery the earliest commercial oil well in North America…MORE 

March 7, 1902 – Oil discovered at Sour Lake, Texas The Sour Lake oilfield was revealed 20 miles northwest of Beaumont, Texas, where the world-famous Spindletop field had been discovered one year earlier. The spa town of Sour Lake, known for its “sulphureus spring water,” would become a boom town where many petroleum companies, including Texaco, got their start…MORE 

February 28, 1935 – DuPont Chemist Wallace Carothers invents Nylon A former Harvard professor working in a DuPont laboratory discovered the world’s first synthetic fiber – nylon – a petroleum product. After experimenting with artificial materials for more than six years, Wallace Carothers created a long molecule chain, a stretching plastic. Just 32 years old, Carothers produced the fibers when he formed a polymer chain using a process to join individual molecules…MORE 

Recent Article Updates 

Updated editorial content at the American Oil & Gas Historical Society website includes these popular articles: As the United Kingdom fought for its survival during World War II, a team of American oil drillers, derrickhands, roustabouts, and motormen secretly boarded the converted troopship HMS Queen Elizabeth in March 1943. Once their story was revealed years later, they would become known as the Roughnecks of Sherwood Forest

Offshore petroleum platforms act as artificial reefs, creating ideal marine habitats. Beginning with an Exxon experimental subsea structure in 1979, the National Artificial Reef Plan, was launched in 1985 in the Gulf of Mexico and updated in 2007. This industry-government Rigs to Reefs partnership has established the largest artificial reef habitat in the world. 

When the USS Texas was commissioned in 1914, it became the last American battleship built with coal-fired boilers. The “Mighty T” converted to fuel oil in 1925, after the Navy recognized oil produced far more energy per pound than coal and simplified resupply logistics. Petroleum and Sea Power

Featured Photo
derricks crowded together at Sour Lake Texas
“A forest of oil well derricks at Sour Lake, Texas,” is from the W.D. Hornaday Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin. Oil discoveries at the resort town northwest of the world-famous Spindletop gusher of 1901 would transform the Texas Company.

This circa 1905 photograph, “A forest of oil well derricks at Sour Lake, Texas,” is from the W.D. Hornaday Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin. Oil discoveries at the resort town northwest of the world-famous Spindletop gusher of 1901 would transform the Texas Company; learn more in Sour Lake produces Texaco

Thank you again for your interest in energy history. Please share article links and tell others about our website. The future of the energy industry and energy education relies on the context of American petroleum heritage. AOGHS works to preserve this context for current and future generations, but we need help from patrons like you to keep the historical society operating. Any contribution is greatly appreciated. 

— Bruce Wells, Executive Director, American Oil & Gas Historical Society

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“Any survey of the natural resources used as sources of energy must include a discussion about the importance of oil, the lifeblood of all industrialized nations.” — Daniel Yergin, bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize

American Oil & Gas Historical Society, 3204 18th Street NW, No. 3, Washington, District of Columbia 20010, United States, (202) 387-6996. Copyright 2020 Bruce A. Wells. All Rights Reserved.

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