Luling Oil Museum

Preserving central Texas oil patch history, and the non-clairvoyant discovery of Luling’s 1922 oilfield.


In a restored 1885 mercantile building downtown, the Luling Oil Museum (also known as the Central Texas Oil Patch Museum) exhibits many kinds of historic drilling and production equipment from the Luling oilfield of the 1920s. The museum, which educates visiting students about the modern petroleum industry, gives little credence to the once widely told tale of Luling’s giant field being discovered thanks to a “reading” by a famous psychic. 

Known for its tasty BBQ ribs, a popular watermelon seed-spitting contest, and colorfully decorated oil pump jacks, Luling became part of  U.S. petroleum history when leading citizen Edgar B. Davis discovered oil there in 1922.

Decorated pump jack and city logo of Luling, Texas.

The city of Luling, Texas, has hosted a watermelon festival every June since 1954.

Luling’s oilfield discovery northeast of San Antonio and south of Austin allowed the small town to join recent oil booms already making headlines to the north in Ranger (1917) and Burkburnett (1918). By 1924, the Luling field had about 400 wells annually producing about 11 million barrels of oil. 

Years later, new technologies like horizontal drilling helped reinvigorated the Luling oil patch, according to the Luling Oil Museum director in 2013, Carol Voight, who was interviewed by Austin TV news. 

Luling, Texas, oil museum historic 1885 building

Exhibits in Luling’s restored 1885 mercantile store educate visitors about 1920s oil discoveries and their role in the Texas petroleum industry.

The museum “shows the contrast of the tools and technology of the past with those utilized in the oil industry today,” Voight explained. Exhibits trace the development of the oil industry — from the first U.S. oil well in 1859 in Pennsylvania to the social and economic impact on central Texas.

Housed in the 1885 Walkers Brothers mercantile store and renovated several times, the Luling Oil Museum building once sold “everything from nails and hammers, to ladies shoes, to toys. It was the oldest continually operating mercantile store in the Texas until it closed in 1984,” according aa 2021 article about the latest renovation in the Lockhart Post-Register.

The Luling Oil Museum purchased the building in 1994, “and set out to showcase what made Luling one of the toughest towns in Texas.” The latest renovation, which incorporated new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning powered from geothermal wells, has provided new exhibit spaces.

“We strive to demonstrate the struggles between the men and women who were the oilfield pioneers and to create a better understanding of the process of oil exploration and production,” noted one volunteer.

Central Texas Oil Patch Museum exhibit

Edgar B. Davis in 1922 discovered an oilfield 12 miles long. Photo by Bruce Wells.

“Our collection includes a working model of a modern oil rig, pump jacks, the ‘Oil Tank Theater,’ and an excellent assortment of tools from each decade of the oil industry,” added Voight. To preserve the city’s petroleum heritage, a large collection of locally donated artifacts illustrate not only how it was in “the olden days,” but also what can be accomplished with community efforts, cooperation, and creative programs.

Museum staff in 2015 credited Luling area petroleum companies and service companies like Tracy Perryman, himself a multi-generation independent producer. One of the museum’s great outreach success stories was “Reflections of Texas Art Exhibit.”

Combined with the permanent oil exhibits, the art show attracted more school field trips from San Antonio. Another program was an annual quilt show, which brought another kind of audience into the museum’s oil exhibit spaces. Like many small oil and gas museums, the Luling museum depends on enthusiastic community support.

In a frugal approach to integrating downtown with outdoor exhibit space, the museum in 2012 partnered with Susan Rodiek, PhD, and graduate students of architectural design at Texas A&M University. Her student teams proposed designs to economically exploit existing facilities while providing new exhibit spaces. Students approached the project competitively, proclaiming the museum their “first client.”

young visitor to oil museum in Luling, TX

Dad signs the museum guestbook for this visitor. Photo by Bruce Wells.

Museum Association Board Member Trey Bailey noted, “The preliminary designs that the Aggie students presented to us were fantastic. There were some terrific concepts and the work was detailed and quite fascinating.”

Voight added, “They really got it – Luling’s rich heritage in oil, the E.B. Davis story and more. Being able to get this quality of work and vision is tremendous to our efforts to showcase some of the true historic gems of Luling. “Dr. Rodiek and her able team have again offered us the ability to get this project moving, especially considering the limited budget we have at this time.”

Once known as the toughest town in Texas, visitors today flock to Luling on the first Saturday in April for the annual Roughneck BBQ and Chili Cook-Off. — where they have found “Best ribs in the country,” according to Reader’s Digest. Crowds also gather every June for the renowned Watermelon Thump Festival and Seed-Spitting Contest.

luling oil field

Museum Association Board Member Trey Bailey and his children. Photo by Bruce Wells.

The Guinness Book of World Records has documented Luling’s watermelon seed-spitting  with a distance of 68 feet, 9 and 1/8 inches, set in 1989. The distance reportedly is still unbeaten. 

Learn petroleum history at the Luling Oil Museum.

Discovering the Luling Oilfield

Although the Luling Oil Museum’s historic Walkers Brothers building was a center for trading cotton, crude oil replaced cotton in Luling’s future thanks to Edgar B. Davis and his Rafael Rios No. 1 discovery well of August 9, 1922.

After drilling six consecutive dry holes near Luling, Davis’ heavily in debt United North & South Oil Company finally struck “black gold.” The wildcat well revealed an oilfield that proved to be 12 miles long and two miles wide.

Some people proclaimed that Davis, president of the exploration company, found the town’s oil-rich geologic formation after getting a psychic reading from the then famous clairvoyant Edgar Cayce. In fact, a geologist working for Davis figured out the oilfield’s likely location. 

Decorated pump jack in Luling, Texas

After sampling “the best ribs in the country,” visitors to Luling, Texas, marvel at the many decorated pump jacks seen in its historic downtown.

By 1924, Luling was a top producing oilfield in the United States, exceeding the early 1900s fields of southeastern Texas, including  Sour Lake and even world-famous Spindletop Hill.

Exhibits at the Luling Oil Museum focus on the real science behind the discovery, which resulted in the town’s population skyrocketing from less than 500 people to 5,000 people within months after the Rafael Rios No. 1 well.

Psychic Dreams of Oil

Biographers of the once famous American psychic Edgar Cayce have noted that he found his own mysterious path into exploring the oil patch at Luling. In 1904, Cayce was a 27-year-old photographer when a local news-paper described his “wonderful power that is greatly puzzling physicians and scientific men.”

The Hopkinsville Kentuckian reported that Cayce – from a hypnotic state – could seemingly determine causes of ailments in patients he never met. By 1910, the New York Times proclaimed that “the medical fraternity of the whole country is taking a lively interest in the strange power possessed by Edgar Cayce to diagnose difficult diseases while in a semi-conscious state.”

As his reputation grew, Cayce expanded his photography business with the addition of adjacent rooms and a specially made couch so he could recline to render readings. He became known as “The Sleeping Prophet” while his readings expanded beyond medical diagnoses into reincarnation, dream interpretation, psychic phenomenon…and advising oilmen.

Edgar Cayce at his drilling rig in Luling oil field

Edgar Cayce visits his drilling site in San Saba County, Texas, in 1921. The famed psychic’s abilities failed him searching for oil.

Sidney Kirkpatrick, author of Edgar Cayce: An American Prophet, explained that Cayce in 1919 provided detailed trance revelations to several oilmen probing the prolific Desdemona oilfield in Eastland County, Texas. The results reportedly inspired Cayce and several partners to form their own company.

In September 1920, Cayce became the clairvoyant partner of Cayce Petroleum Company. Guided by his own psychic readings, Cayce Petroleum Company leased some acreage around Luling. Not far away, Edgar B. Davis had drilled eight dry holes and nearly went broke before completing the discovery well for Luling’s oilfield. 

But raising capital for Cayce Petroleum drilling proved difficult and eventually led to loss of the Luling leases. Cayce’s company tried again 150 miles north in San Saba County, Texas. The psychic’s exploration company did not find oil.

According to Kirkpatrick’s book, Cayce’s readings included “detailed descriptions given of the various rock geological formations that would be encountered as they drilled.” The Rocky Pasture No. 1 well would drill beyond 1,650 feet in search of what Cayce described as a 40,000 barrel per day “Mother Pool.” It was a dry hole. Cayce Petroleum Company ran out of money and failed.

In a 2017 email to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society, long-time AOGHS member Dan Plazak noted Cayce spoke of finding oil at a salt dome at Luling. Petroleum and the geology of salt domes had been in the news since one had been found with a gusher at Spindletop Hill in 1901. 

Plazak, a consulting geologist and engineer, reported that that Cayce, “speaking in a trance, proclaimed that oil would be found at Luling associated with a salt dome. But there are no salt domes at Luling, and Cayce’s bad psychic advice could only have prevented Davis from finding oil.

“It was a geologist working for Davis who saw faulting in the outcrop, and correctly predicted that the oil would be trapped behind the fault,” Plazak added. 

An associate of Cayce, David Kahn, later wrote Davis asking the successful oilman to give some of the Luling profits to Cayce, but Davis declined. “Edgar Davis was famously generous, but his refusal to reward Cayce indicates that he didn’t consider Cayce to have been of much help,” explained Plazak in an email to AOGHS. “However, he continued to consult Cayce concerning Davis’ presidential ambitions (he was convinced that he was destined for the White House).”

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Plazak explained that it was a geologist working for Davis who saw faulting in the outcrop, and correctly predicted that the oil would be trapped behind the fault. After a few early wells, “Cayce’s oil-exploration readings were a complete bust, both for his own oil company, and later for many other oil drillers, in locations all over the country.”

In his email, Plazak — a “geologist and researcher of finding oil with doodlebugs, dreams, and crystal balls” from Colorado — added there are still those today who believe in psychic advice who no doubt are “raising money on the internet to drill yet another dry hole in San Saba County.”

Despite the psychic’s exploration readings not working, investors apparently can still be tempted with promotions of Cayce’s ability to find a “mother pool of oil.”

Additional interesting research from oil patch detective Dan Plazak can be found at Mining Swindles. A graduate of Michigan Tech and the Colorado School of Mining, Plazak in 2010 wrote “an entertaining and informative volume that delightfully investigates the history of mining frauds in the United States from the Civil War to World War I,” according to his publisher, the University of Utah Press.

“In his estimable work, A Hole in the Ground with a Liar at the Top, Dan Plazak strikes it rich with his examination of the old west’s most successful villains and their crimes.” — Utah Historical Quarterly

Modern “Crudoleum”

Today, the psychic legacy of failed oilman Edgar Cayce lives on at the Association for Research and Enlightenment in Virginia Beach, Virginia, founded in 1931, and “the official world headquarters of the works of Edgar Cayce, considered America’s most documented psychic.”

petroleum product called Crudoleum

A psychic’s petroleum product sold today.

An invention from Cayce’s venture into the oil business remains on the market — his “pure crude oil” product he recommended as a first step toward replenishing healthy hair. Cayce invented a “pure crude oil” product he called Crudoleum, which is sold today as a cream, shampoo and conditioner.


Recommended Reading: Texas Art and a Wildcatter’s Dream: Edgar B. Davis and the San Antonio Art League (1998); Drilling Technology in Nontechnical Language (2012); Edgar Cayce: An American Prophet, (2001); A Hole in the Ground with a Liar at the Top: Fraud and Deceit in the Golden Age of American Mining (2010). Your Amazon purchase benefits the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. As an Amazon Associate, AOGHS earns a commission from qualifying purchases.

Learn more U.S. petroleum history by visiting the Luling Oil Museum in the historic Walkers Brothers building in downtown Luling.


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 © 2021 Bruce A. Wells.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Central Texas Oil Patch Museum.” Authors: B.A. Wells and K.L. Wells. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: Last Updated: April 1, 2021. Original Published Date: June 21, 2015.


Vintage Oil Postcards from Texas

Proven production from a petroleum geologist, oil patch historian, collector, and author.

For anyone interested in learning about Texas oil and gas history or oilfield photography used in vintage postcards, the work of petroleum geologist Jeff Spencer offers both in 128 pages of fascinating images. Published by Arcadia Publishing in 2013, Texas Oil and Gas is a teaching resource that should be in every Texas high school.

oil postcards

Published in 2013, Texas Oil and Gas, is part of Arcadia Publishing’s series of books featuring historic postcards.

A geologist with Amromco Energy, Houston, Spencer has authored or co-authored more than 20 oilfield history papers. His petroleum-related vintage postcard collection includes images from West Virginia, California, Ontario, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and of course Texas. The majority of the book’s more than 200 images are from the author’s private collection (more…)

Michigan Petroleum History

A 1961 historical marker explains Michigan petroleum history began in 1886, but that Michigan State Geologist Alexander Winchell had reported that oil and natural gas deposits lay under Michigan’s surface as 1860.

“First commercial oil production was at Port Huron, where 22 wells were drilled, beginning in 1886,” the marker continues. “Total output was small. Michigan’s first oil boom was at Saginaw, where production began about 1925. About three hundred wells were drilled here by 1927, when Muskegon’s ‘Discovery Well’ drew oil men from all over the country to that field.”

 Clarke Historical Library exhibit at Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant.

“Michigan Oil & Gas History,” a 2005 Clarke Historical Library exhibit at Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant. Photo by Kris Wells.

The Clay County historical marker notes that the Mt. Pleasant field, discovered in 1928, “helped make Michigan one of the leading oil producers of the eastern United States. Mount Pleasant became known as the “Oil Capital of Michigan.”

Central Michigan University Oil Exhibit

In the summer of 2005, a special petroleum exhibit opened at Central Michigan University’s (CMU) Clarke Historical Library, Mount Pleasant.

“They work hard, take risks, prosper, and by and large benefit everybody,” noted Frank Boles, director of the Clarke Historical Library, about oil and natural gas producers. “What I didn’t understand about the industry is that these people all know each other.”

Frank Boles, director of the Clarke Historical Library in Michigan.

Frank Boles (top), director of the Clarke Historical Library, designed an exhibit creatively combining documents and photographs to capture the attention of students. Photos by Kris Wells.

The library told their story with an “Oil and Natural Gas in Michigan” exhibit.

The state’s abundant oil production comes as a surprise to many, said Boles, who put the exhibit together with the cooperation of the Michigan Oil & Gas Association and the Michigan Oil & Gas Producers Educational Foundation. Jack Westbrook, retired managing editor of Michigan Oil & Gas News magazine, marshaled the resources and worked tirelessly to ensure success, Boles said. “In a very real sense, there would be no exhibit if it were not for Jack.”

The exhibit was designed to designed to pique a visitor’s curiosity – and be transportable. The region’s students learned that Mount Pleasant, home to CMU, had its own oil boom in 1928 and today is known as the historical center of Michigan’s oil industry.

They were surprised to learn that more than 57,000 oil and gas wells had been drilled in their state since 1925 – and that Michigan ranks 17th in nationwide oil production and 11th in natural gas. More surprises awaited those students who looked more closely, Boles said.

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“We’re about usage,” he explained. “Our profit is people coming in, using our resources, and hopefully learning something. We want our exhibits to prompt them to dig deeper.”

For example, students learn that after decades of dry holes or small oil discoveries, the Houseknecht No. 1 discovery well on January 7, 1957, revealed Michigan’s largest oil field, 29-miles-long. Ferne Houseknecht had convinced her uncle, Clifford Perry, to take time between his other farm projects to drill the historic well. Learn more in Michigan’s ‘Golden Gulch’ of Oil.

For the exhibit, Boles used just six walls and eleven cabinets to tell this and other stories, so careful planning was essential. He said that from the project’s outset, pursuit of community support, resources, and partners was essential.

Homemade cable-tool drill derrick built by Earl "Red" Perry Jr. at age 12.

Proudly showing off his homemade cable tool rig in 1932, Earl “Red” Perry Jr., 12, was the nephew of Cliff Perry — who would discover Michigan’s largest oilfield on January 7, 1957.

The exhibit began with storyboarding and the interactive process of writing and rewriting proposed text. Large photo formats with understandable text dominated the walls, while display cases featured unique artifacts and documents.

Visitors discovered a rich oil history and learned of the complex environmental issues Michigan has successfully addressed.

The 1970s “Pigeon River State Forest” ecological controversy was presented – along with its innovative solution. In 1976, Michigan became the first state in the nation to earmark state revenue generated through mineral, including oil and gas, activity for acquisition and improvement of environmentally sensitive or public recreation lands.

According to Jack Westbrook, all 83 Michigan counties have benefited from the fund’s $635 million collected from oil and gas revenues – and other states followed Michigan’s example.

His book, Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund 1976-2011: A 35 year Michigan investment heritage in Michigan’s public recreation future, is available at Amazon.

Visit the Clarke Historical Library.


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 Copyright © 2021 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Citation Information – Article Title: “Michigan Petroleum History.” Authors: B.A. Wells and K.L. Wells. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: Last Updated: March 29, 2021. Original Published Date: June 19, 2014.

Oil & Gas History News, February 2021

AOGHS logo Newsletter

February 17, 2021  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 2, No. 2


Oil & Gas History News


This month’s history articles include interesting and sometimes overlooked milestones, few more so than William F. Cody’s unlucky adventures drilling for oil near the town named after him. There’s also a 1931 third discovery well that revealed the true size of the East Texas oilfield that deserves remembering. Thank you for joining the American Oil & Gas Historical Society’s growing community of oil patch historians.


This Week in Petroleum History Monthly Update


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


February 15, 1982 – Deadly Atlantic Storm sinks Drilling Platform


With rogue waves reaching as high as 65 feet during an Atlantic cyclone, offshore drilling platform Ocean Ranger sank on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Canada, killing all 84 on board. About 65 miles east, a Soviet container ship was struck by the same weather system and sank the loss of 32 crew members…MORE


February 9, 2013 – Making Hole on the Red Planet


Images transmitted from NASA’s robotic rover Curiosity confirm it drilled a well on the Martian surface, accomplishing “history’s first ever drilling and sampling into a pristine alien rock on the surface of another planet in our solar system”…MORE


February 1, 1868 – Oil Quality weighed for Pricing


For the first time, crude oil price quotations began to be based on specific gravity — the heaviness of a substance compared to that of water. In the new oil regions of Pennsylvania, independent producers met to sell shares of stock, argue prices, and enter into refining contracts that depended on the oil’s quality…MORE

January 26, 1931 – Third Well reveals East Texas Giant


As East Texas farmers struggled to survive the Great Depression, an oil discovery in Gregg County confirmed the existence of a truly massive oilfield. Fort Worth wildcatter W.A. “Monty” Moncrief completed the Lathrop No. 1 well, which produced 7,680 barrels of oil a day…MORE


Featured Image


W.F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody (4th from right) and investors examine petroleum samples at an oilfield on the Shoshone Anticline near Cody, Wyoming. Photo courtesy the American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.


Wild West Showman explored for Oil


William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s legacy extends beyond his world-famous Wild West Show — straight into the Wyoming oil patch. Cody, who in 1896 founded the town that bears his name, organized an exploration company in 1902. The former Army scout and buffalo hunter drilled a dry hole two miles south of Cody. Money ran out when a second well failed to find oil, but he tried again after starting another venture, the Shoshone Oil Company


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


Alabama’s first oilfield was discovered on February 17, 1944, in Choctaw County when independent producer H.L. Hunt of Dallas, Texas, drilled the No. 1 Jackson well. Hunt’s wildcat well revealed the Gilbertown oilfield. Prior to this discovery, 350 dry holes had been drilled in the state. Learn more in First Alabama Oil Well.

“El Lobo Solo” Texas Ranger Manuel T. Gonzaullas died February 13, 1977, at age 85 in Dallas. When oil boom town Kilgore became “the most lawless town in Texas” during the early 1930s, Gonzaullas rode in and tamed it. “Crime may expect no quarter in Kilgore,” he declared. Learn more in Manuel “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas, Texas Ranger.


On February 10, 1917, about 90 geologists gathered at Henry Kendall College (now Tulsa University) and organized what became today’s American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). New mechanized technologies of World War I added desperation to finding and producing vast supplies of oil. Learn more in AAPG – Geology Pros since 1917.



Comments and suggestions are always welcomed. If you would like to see more articles like these, become a supporting member. If everyone who visits our website helps fund it, we can further expand and improve our coverage. Thank you again for your interest in energy history — and please link your blog, Facebook page, or website to ours!


— 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


© 2021 American Oil & Gas Historical Society, 3204 18th Street NW, No. 3, Washington, District of Columbia 20010, United States

AAPG – Geology Pros since 1917

World War I and petroleum demand challenged science of exploration and production.


As 20th century worldwide demand for oil grew, the petroleum science for finding it remained obscure when a small group of geologists organized the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).

Beginning as the Southwestern Association of Petroleum Geologists in Tulsa, Oklahoma, about 90 geologists gathered at Henry Kendall College, now Tulsa University. Meanwhile, deadly mechanized technologies of the First War I brought desperation to finding and producing vast supplies of oil.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists 1917 logo

AAPG members maintain a professional business code.

On February 10, 1917, the group of earth scientists formed an association “to which only reputable and recognized petroleum geologists are admitted.”

In early January 1918, AAPG held a convention in Oklahoma City with a membership of 167 active and 17 associate members. The association issued its first technical bulletin from the papers delivered at the 1917 meeting. The new association’s mission included promoting the science of geology, especially as it related to oil and natural gas, and encourage “technology improvements in the methods of exploring for and exploiting these substances.”

AAPG founded in this Tulsa college

AAPG was founded in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at Henry Kendall College — today’s Tulsa University.

AAPG would also “foster the spirit of scientific research among its members; to disseminate facts relating to the geology and technology of petroleum and natural gas.”

Adopted its present name a year after the meeting at Henry Kendall College, AAPG began publishing a bimonthly journal that remains among the most respected in the industry. The peer-reviewed Bulletin included papers written by leading geologists of the day. With a subscription price of five dollars, the journal was distributed to members, university libraries, and other industry professionals.

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By 1920, one petroleum trade magazine – after complaining of the industry’s lack of skilled geologists — noted the “Association Grows in Membership and Influence; Combats the Fakers.” The article praised AAPG professionalism and warned of “the large number of unscrupulous and inadequately prepared men who are attempting to do geological work.”

Similarly, the Oil Trade Journal praised AAPG for its commitment “to censor the great mass of inadequately prepared and sometimes unscrupulous reports on geological problems, which are wholly misleading to the industry.”

Perhaps the best known such fabrication is related to the men behind the 1930 East Texas oilfield discovery — a report entitled  “Geological, Topographical And Petroliferous Survey, Portion of Rusk County, Texas, Made for C.M. Joiner by A.D. Lloyd, Geologist And Petroleum Engineer.”

Using very scientific terminology, A.D. Lloyd’s document described Rusk County geology — its anticlines, faults, and a salt dome — all features associated with substantial oil deposits…and all completely fictitious.  The fabrications nevertheless attracted investors, allowing Joiner and “Doc” Lloyd to drill a well that uncovered a massive oil field, still the largest conventional oil reservoir in the lower-48 states.

AAPG magazine cover of Bulletin

AAPG’s peer-reviewed journal.

Equally imaginative science came from Lloyd’s earlier descriptions of the “Yegua and Cook Mountain” formations and the thousands of seismographic registrations he ostensibly recorded. Lloyd, a former patent medicine salesman, and other self-proclaimed geologists, were the antithesis of the AAPG professional ethic.

In 1945, AAPG formed a “Committee on Boy Scout Literature” to assist the Boy Scouts of America in updating requirements for the “mining” badge, which had been awarded since 1911 (learn more in Merit Badge for Geology). By 1953, AAPG membership had grown to more than 10,000 and a permanent headquarters building opened Tulsa.

Today, the association is the world’s largest professional geological society with more than 31,000 members in 116 countries. AAPG still embraces a membership code that assures “integrity, business ethics, personal honor, and professional conduct.”

AAPG’s Robbie Rice Gries – with help from many dedicated volunteers – in March 2017 published a 405-page history of pioneering women in petroleum geology: Anomalies – Pioneering Women in Petroleum Geology: 1917 to 2017, The First 100 Years.


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 Copyright © 2021 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

Citation Information – Article Title: “AAPG – Geology Pros since 1917.” Authors: B.A. Wells and K.L. Wells. Website Name: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. URL: Last Updated: February 8 2021. Original Published Date: April 29, 2014.

Oil & Gas History News, January 2021

AOGHS logo Newsletter

January 20, 2021  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 2, No. 1


Oil & Gas History News


Welcome to our first newsletter of 2021 — and thank you for being a part of our growing community of oil patch historians, energy professionals, educators, and students. This month features many milestones, but few more important than the 100th anniversary of a gusher three miles south of Beaumont, Texas. The discovery at Spindletop Hill increased U.S. oil production just as gasoline demand began for automobiles.


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. 


January 18, 1919 – Congregation rejects drilling in Cemetery


Although World War I was over, oil production continued to soar in North Texas. Reporting on “Roaring Ranger” oilfields, the New York Times noted that speculators offered $1 million for rights to drill in the Merriman Baptist Church cemetery, but the congregation could not be persuaded to disturb the interred…MORE


January 11, 1926 – “Ace” Borger discovers Oil in North Texas


Thousands rushed to the Texas Panhandle seeking “black gold” after the Dixon Creek Oil and Refining Company completed its Smith No. 1 well, which flowed at 10,000 barrels a day in southern Hutchinson County. “Ace” Borger of Tulsa, Oklahoma, had leased a 240-acre tract and by September his Borger oilfield had more than 800 producing wells…MORE


January 4, 1948 – Benedum Field discovery Deep in Permian Basin


After years of frustration, exploration of the Permian Basin suddenly intensified again when a wildcat well found oil and natural gas in a deep geologic formation. The Slick-Urschel Oil Company drilled the well in partnership with geologist and independent producer Michael Late Benedum, who had discovered oilfields in Pennsylvania and West Virginia since the 1890s…MORE

December 28, 1898 – Mary Alford inherits Pennsylvania Nitro Factory


Byron S. Alford died, leaving his nitroglycerin factory to his wife Mary, who would make the business thrive, becoming “the only known woman to own a dynamite and nitroglycerin factory,” explained a 2017 Smithsonian article that credited an American Oil & Gas Historical Society story…MORE


December 21, 1842 – Birth of an Oil Town “Bird’s-Eye View” Artist


Panoramic map artist Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1842. Following the fortunes of America’s early petroleum industry, he would produce hundreds of unique maps of the earliest oilfield towns of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas…MORE


Featured Image

Spindletop gusher 1901 AOGHS

Captain Anthony F. Lucas stands beside his well (at right) after it struck oil at a depth of 1,139 feet and began flowing at an astounding 100,000 barrels per day. This iconic image at Spindletop was taken the afternoon of the discovery by photographer Francis (Frank) J. Trost (1868-1944).

On January 10, 1901, the “Lucas Gusher” at Spindletop Hill in southeastern Texas revealed an oilfield that would produce more oil in one day than the rest of the world’s oilfields combined. It was the most significant oil discovery from a salt dome structure along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Although the great Galveston hurricane of 1899 (still the deadliest in U.S. history) had brought much misery, this oil discovery launched the modern oil and gas industry as the 20th century dawned.


Energy Education Articles


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


Seeking to end dangerous and wasteful oil gushers, on January 12, 1926, James Abercrombie and Harry Cameron patented the hydraulic ram-type blowout preventer. Their concept used hydrostatic pistons to close on the drill stem and form a seal against the well pressure. Abercrombie had taken his idea to Cameron’s machine shop in Humble, Texas, where the two men sketched out details on the sawdust floor. Learn more in Ending Oil Gushers – BOP.

In early January 1957, an exploratory well drilled on and off for almost two years revealed a giant oilfield in southern Michigan. The discovery at “Rattlesnake Gulch” on Ferne Houseknecht’s dairy farm discovered a prolific petroleum basin that extended 29 miles. Learn more in Michigan’s Golden Gulch of Oil.



Please share this newsletter’s articles — and consider adding a link from your website to ours. It makes a real difference promoting AOGHS articles. Your supporting membership also helps expand the society’s energy education outreach. Even the smallest donation can keep our unique oil history website up and running in 2021.


— 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

© American Oil & Gas Historical Society, 3204 18th Street NW, No. 3, Washington, District of Columbia 20010, United States, (202) 387-6996

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