August 19, 2020  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 1, No. 8


Oil & Gas History News

Welcome to our August newsletter, and thank you for subscribing. The pandemic continues to bring more people than ever online, especially as an unprecedented school year struggles to begin. The American Oil & Gas Historical Society is sharing energy education research and articles during this time of social distancing. We are adding new and updated posts to the website, which is undergoing improvements, thanks to supporting members.

This Week in Petroleum History Monthly Update

Links to summaries from five weeks of U.S. oil and natural gas history, including new technologies, oilfield discoveries, petroleum products, and pioneers. 

August 17, 1785 – Oil Discovered Floating on Pennsylvania Creek

Two years after the end of the Revolutionary War, oil was reported floating on a creek in northwestern Pennsylvania. “Oil Creek has taken its name from an oil or bituminous matter being found floating on its surface,” noted a report by Army Gen. William Irvine. His report of the natural oil seeps would lead to the first U.S. oil well in 1859…MORE

August 10, 1909 – Hughes patents Dual-Cone Roller Bit

“Fishtail” drill bits became obsolete after Howard Hughes Sr. of Houston, Texas, patented a roller bit consisting of two rotating cones. By pulverizing hard rock, his bit led to drilling faster and deeper. Hughes and business associate Walter Sharp established the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company to manufacture the new bit…MORE

August 3, 1769 – La Brea Asphalt (Not Tar) Pits discovered

The La Brea, “the tar,” pits were discovered during a Spanish expedition on the West Coast. “We debated whether this substance, which flows melted from underneath the earth, could occasion so many earthquakes,” noted a Franciscan friar. Commonly called tar pits, the sticky pools between modern Beverly Hills and downtown L.A. are actually comprised of natural asphalt, also known as bitumen…MORE

July 27, 1918 – Standard Oil of New York launches Concrete Oil Tanker

The Socony, America’s first concrete vessel designed to carry oil, launched from its shipyard at Flushing Bay, New York. Built for the Standard Oil Company of New York, the barge was 98-feet long with a 32-foot beam and carried oil in six center and two wing compartments, “oil-proofed by a special process,” according to Cement and Engineering NewsMORE

July 20, 1920 – Texas Company reveals Permian Basin

The first commercial well of the Permian Basin produced oil from a depth of 2,750 feet on land owned by William Abrams, an official of the Texas & Pacific Railway. Later “shot” with nitroglycerin by the Texas Company (the future Texaco), the W.H. Abrams No. 1 well today is part of the 75,000-square-mile Permian Basin…MORE

Featured Image

About 450 million years ago, a meteor struck north-central Oklahoma, creating an impact crater – an astrobleme – eight miles wide. Hidden beneath 9,000 feet of sediment, an oilfield discovery at the crater in 1991 attracted worldwide attention of petroleum companies.

“The Ames Astrobleme is one of the most remarkable and studied geological features in the world because of its economic significance,” noted independent producer Lew Ward from nearby Enid in 2007. Learn more in Ames Astrobleme Museum.

Energy Education Articles

Updated editorial content on the American Oil & Gas Historical Society website includes these articles:

It was a foggy summer morning in 1927 as eight airplanes prepared for takeoff before a crowd of more than 50,000 at the Oakland Airport in California. Aviation history was about to be made with a 2,400-mile air race to Honolulu. High-octane gasoline refined by Phillips Petroleum Company powered the “Woolaroc” monoplane to victory in the record-setting but deadly air race. See Flight of the Woolaroc.

“The World’s Wonder Oil Pool” discovery in 1918 on a small farm along the Red River in Texas launched a drilling boom that would bring prosperity — and inspire a Hollywood movie starring Clark Gable, who was a teenager working in Oklahoma oilfields. Two decades later, he would star in “Boom Town,” a 1940 MGM movie inspired by the Burkburnett oilfield discovery. See Boom Town Burkburnett.


In addition to the above articles, a recent AOGHS website posting features Ray Sorenson, a petroleum geologist who has researched first oil sightings in the United States, Canada, and many parts of the world. Sources cited in the ongoing Exploring Earliest Signs of Oil would add up to 11 feet of shelf space!

Please share our latest newsletter. Like many small, educational organizations, the 2020 pandemic has put a financial strain on this historical society. We need your help to tell the many stories of petroleum history.

— Bruce Wells

“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


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 © 2020 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This