November 19, 1861 – American exports Oil for First Time –
America exported petroleum for the first time when the merchant brig Elizabeth Watts departed the Port of Philadelphia for Great Britain. The Union vessel arrived in London 45 days later carrying a cargo of 901 barrels of Pennsylvania oil and 428 barrels of refined kerosene.
The shippers were the successful Philadelphia import-export firm of Peter Wright & Sons, which since its founding in 1818 had prospered transporting glass, porcelain and queensware china. The company hired the Elizabeth Watts to ship the petroleum to three British companies. On January 9, 1862, the brig sailed down the Thames River to arrive at London, where it took 12 days to unload the 1,329 barrels of oil and kerosene. Learn more in American exports Oil.
November 19, 1927 – Phillips Petroleum introduces “Phillips 66” Gasoline
After a decade as an exploration and production company, Phillips Petroleum entered the business of refining and retail gasoline distribution. The Bartlesville, Oklahoma, company introduced a new line of gasoline – “Phillips 66” — at its first service station, which opened in Wichita, Kansas.
The gasoline was named “Phillips 66” because it had propelled company officials down U.S. Highway 66 at 66 mph on the way to a meeting at their Bartlesville headquarters. The popular roadway soon became the backbone of Phillips Petroleum marketing plans for the new product, which boasted “controlled volatility,” the result of a higher-gravity mix of naphtha and gasoline.
Acquisition of service stations added 50 new retail outlets each month to the company. By 1930, Phillips 66 gasoline was sold at 6,750 outlets in 12 states. Because the composition made Phillips 66 gas easier to start in cold weather, advertisements enticed motorists to try the “New Winter Gasoline.”
November 20, 1930 – Oil Booms help Hilton expand in Texas
After buying his first motel in the booming oil town of Cisco, Texas, Conrad Hilton opened a high-rise hotel in El Paso. While visiting Cisco in 1919, Hilton had witnessed roughnecks from the Ranger oilfield waiting for rooms. Hilton’s first hotel, the Mobley, had 40 rooms he rented for eight-hour periods to coincide with workers’ shifts. Thanks to oil booms, Hilton was firmly established in the Texas hotel business. His El Paso Hilton (now the Plaza Hotel) was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
November 20, 1980 – Texaco Well drains Louisiana Lake
Soon after its crew evacuated, a Texaco drilling platform overturned and disappeared into a whirlpool that drained the 3.5 billion gallons of water of Lake Peigneur, Louisiana, in three hours. The drilling crew had accidently penetrated a salt dome containing the mining operation of Diamond Crystal Salt Company. All 50 miners working as deep as 1,500 feet below the surface escaped with no serious injuries as the maelstrom swallowed the $5 million Texaco platform — and 11 barges holding drilling supplies.
“Texaco, who had ordered the oil probe, was aware of the salt mine’s presence and had planned accordingly; but somewhere a miscalculation had been made, which placed the drill site directly above one of the salt mine’s 80-foot-high, 50-foot-wide upper shafts,” noted a 2005 article, Lake Peigneur: The Swirling Vortex of Doom. Evidence for identifying the cause was washed away, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s 1981 report. Texaco and drilling contractor Wilson Drilling paid $32 million to Diamond Crystal Salt Company and $12.8 million to a nearby botanical garden and plant nursery.
Changed from freshwater to saltwater with a maximum depth of 200 feet, Lake Peigneur today is the deepest lake in Louisiana.
November 21, 1925 – Magnolia Petroleum incorporates
Formerly an unincorporated joint-stock association with roots dating to an 1889 refinery in Corsicana, Texas, Magnolia Petroleum Company incorporated. The original association had sold many grades of refined petroleum products through more than 500 service stations in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
Within a month of the new company’s founding, John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of New York purchased most of Magnolia Petroleum’s assets and operated it as a subsidiary. Magnolia Oil Company merged with Socony Mobile Oil Company in 1959. The companies adopted a red Pegasus logo, which replaced the magnolia logo at gas stations (see Mobil’s High-Flying Trademark). Magnolia Petroleum ultimately became part of ExxonMobil.
November 22, 1878 – Tidewater Pipe Company established
The Tidewater Pipe Company was organized in Pennsylvania by Byron Benson. In 1879 his company would build the first oil pipeline to cross the Alleghenies from Coryville to the Philadelphia Reading Railroad 109 miles away in Williamsport. This technological achievement was considered by many as the first true oil pipeline in America, if not the world.
The difficult work – much of it done in winter using sleds to move pipe sections – bypassed Standard Oil Company’s dominance in transporting petroleum. Tidewater made an arrangement with Reading Railroad to haul the oil in tank cars to Philadelphia and New York. In 1879, about 250 barrels of oil from the Bradford field was pumped across the mountains and into Williamsport. More than 80 percent of America’s oil soon would come from Pennsylvania oilfields, according to historian Floyd Hartman Jr. in “Birth of Coryville’s Tidewater Pipe Line.”
November 22, 1905 – Giant Glenn Pool Field discovered
Two years before Oklahoma statehood, the Glenn Pool (or Glenpool) oilfield was discovered in the Creek Indian Reservation south of Tulsa. The greatest oilfield in America at the time, it would help make Tulsa the “Oil Capital of the World.” Many prominent oil producers, including Harry Sinclair and J. Paul Getty, got their start during the Glenn Pool boom.
With production exceeding 120,000 barrels of oil a day, Glen Pool exceeded Tulsa County’s earlier Red Fork Gusher. The giant oilfield even exceeded production from Spindletop Hill in Texas four years earlier. The Ida Glenn No. 1 well, drilled to about 1,500 feet deep, led to more prolific wells in the 12-square-mile Glen Pool. By the time of statehood in 1907, Tulsa area oilfields made Oklahoma the biggest U.S. oil producing state.
Today, the oilfield benefits from enhanced recovery technologies to continue production. Glennpool residents celebrate their petroleum heritage with “Black Gold Days,” including the 41st annual festival held June 20-23, 2019, in Black Gold Park.
November 22, 2003 – Smithsonian Museum opens Transportation Hall
A permanent exhibit about U.S. transportation history opened at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. “Get your kicks on 40 feet of Route 66,” the Smithsonian exhibit noted on opening day of the $22 million renovation of the museum’s Hall of Transportation.
The America on the Move hall was designed to let visitors “travel back in time and experience transportation as it changed America,” explains the Smithsonian. The exhibits include 340 objects and 19 historic settings in chronological order. At the same museum in 1967, the Smithsonian’s “Hall of Petroleum” devoted an entire wing to drilling rigs, pipelines, and pump jacks.
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 email@example.com. Copyright © 2020 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.