Spindletop

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The Lucas gusher at Spindletop, January 10, 1901: This was the first major gusher of the Texas oil boom.
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Lucas Gusher, Spindletop Oil Field
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Lucas Gusher, Spindletop Oil Field
Location3 mi south of Beaumont, Texas on Spindletop Ave.
Coordinates 30°1′12″N94°4′31″W / 30.02000°N 94.07528°W / 30.02000; -94.07528 Coordinates: 30°1′12″N94°4′31″W / 30.02000°N 94.07528°W / 30.02000; -94.07528
Area1,130.4 acres (457.5 ha)
Built1901 (1901)
NRHP reference # 66000818 [1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 13, 1966
Designated NHLNovember 13, 1966

Spindletop is an oil field located in the southern portion of Beaumont, Texas, in the United States. The Spindletop dome was derived from the Louann Salt evaporite layer of the Jurassic geologic period. [2] On January 10, 1901, a well at Spindletop struck oil ("came in"). The Spindletop gusher blew for 9 days at a rate estimated at 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of oil per day. [3] Gulf Oil and Texaco, now part of Chevron Corporation, were formed to develop production at Spindletop. [4] According to Daniel Yergin, the Spindletop discovery led the United States into the oil age. Prior to Spindletop, oil was primarily used for lighting and as a lubricant. Because of the quantity of oil discovered, burning petroleum as a fuel for mass consumption suddenly became economically feasible.

Beaumont, Texas City in Texas, United States

Beaumont is a city in and the county seat of Jefferson County, Texas, in the United States, within the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located in Southeast Texas on the Neches River about 85 miles (137 km) east of Houston, Beaumont had a population of 117,267 at the time of the 2010 census, making it the thirtieth-most populous city in the state of Texas.

Louann Salt

The Louann Salt is a widespread evaporite formation that formed in the Gulf of Mexico during the Callovian in the mid Jurassic. The Louann formed in a rift as the South American and North American Plates separated, from an embayment of the Pacific Ocean. The Louann underlies much of the northern Gulf coast from Texas to the Florida panhandle and extends beneath large areas of the Gulf coastal plain of Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Evaporite A water-soluble mineral sediment formed by evaporation from an aqueous solution

Evaporite is the term for a water-soluble mineral sediment that results from concentration and crystallization by evaporation from an aqueous solution. There are two types of evaporite deposits: marine, which can also be described as ocean deposits, and non-marine, which are found in standing bodies of water such as lakes. Evaporites are considered sedimentary rocks and are formed by chemical sediments.

Contents

The frenzy of oil exploration and the economic development it generated in the state became known as the Texas oil boom. The United States soon became the world's leading oil producer.

Texas oil boom period of change and economic growth in Texas

The Texas oil boom, sometimes called the gusher age, was a period of dramatic change and economic growth in the U.S. state of Texas during the early 20th century that began with the discovery of a large petroleum reserve near Beaumont, Texas. The find was unprecedented in its size (worldwide) and ushered in an age of rapid regional development and industrialization that has few parallels in U.S. history. Texas quickly became one of the leading oil producing states in the U.S., along with Oklahoma and California; soon the nation overtook the Russian Empire as the top producer of petroleum. By 1940 Texas had come to dominate U.S. production. Some historians even define the beginning of the world's Oil Age as the beginning of this era in Texas.

History

There had long been suspicions that oil might be under "Spindletop Hill." The area was known for its vast sulfur springs and bubbling gas seepages that would ignite if lit. In August 1892, George W. O'Brien, George W. Carroll, Pattillo Higgins, and others formed the Gladys City Oil, Gas, and Manufacturing Company to do exploratory drilling on Spindletop Hill. The company drilled many dry holes and ran into trouble, as investors began to balk at pouring more money into drilling with no oil to show for it.[ citation needed ]

Sulfur Chemical element with atomic number 16

Sulfur or sulphur is a chemical element with symbol S and atomic number 16. It is abundant, multivalent, and nonmetallic. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with a chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow, crystalline solid at room temperature.

Pattillo Higgins Businessman; Geologist

Pattillo Higgins was a businessman as well as a self-taught geologist. He earned the nickname the "Prophet of Spindletop" for his endeavors in the oil business, which accrued a fortune for many. He partnered to form the Gladys City Oil Gas and Manufacturing Company and later, established the Higgins Standard Oil Company.

Pattillo Higgins left the company and teamed with Captain Anthony F. Lucas, the leading expert in the U.S. on salt-dome formations. Lucas made a lease agreement in 1899 with the Gladys City Company and a subsequent agreement with Higgins. Lucas drilled to 575 feet (180 m) before running out of money. He secured additional funding from John H. Galey and James M. Guffey of Pittsburgh, but the deal left Lucas with only an eighth share of the lease and Higgins with nothing. [5]

Anthony Francis Lucas Croatian oil explorer

Anthony Francis Lucas was an American Croatian-born oil explorer. With Pattillo Higgins he organized the drilling of an oil well near Beaumont, Texas that became known as Spindletop. This led to the widespread exploitation of oil and the start of the petroleum age.

Pittsburgh City in western Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States, and is the county seat of Allegheny County. In 2017, a population of 302,407 lives within the city limits, making it the 63rd-largest city in the U.S. The metropolitan population of 2,324,743 is the largest in both the Ohio Valley and Appalachia, the second-largest in Pennsylvania, and the 27th-largest in the U.S.

Lucas continued drilling, and on January 10, 1901, at a depth of 1,139 ft (347 m), what is known as the Lucas Gusher or the Lucas Geyser blew oil over 150 feet (50 m) in the air at a rate of 100,000 barrels per day (16,000 m3/d)(4,200,000 gallons). Nine days passed before the well was brought under control. [3]

Spindletop was the largest gusher the world had seen and catapulted Beaumont into an oil-fueled boomtown. Beaumont's population of 10,000 tripled in 3 months and eventually rose to 50,000. [6] Speculation led land prices to increase rapidly. By the end of 1902, more than 500 companies had been formed and 285 wells were in operation. [3]

Spindletop was the first oilfield found on the US Gulf Coast, and prompted further drilling, and further oil-field discoveries. Oil drillers looking for another Spindletop particularly sought out other salt domes, and were often successful. The Gulf Coast turned into a major oil region.[ citation needed ]

Standard Oil, which then had a monopoly or near-monopoly on the petroleum industry in the eastern states, was prevented from moving aggressively into the new oilfield by state antitrust laws. Populist sentiment against Standard Oil was particularly strong at the time of the Spindletop discovery. In 1900, an oil-products marketing company affiliated with Standard Oil had been banned from the state for its cutthroat business practices. Although Standard built refineries in the area, it was unable to dominate the new Gulf Coast oil fields the way it had in the eastern states. As a result, a number of startup oil companies at Spindletop, such as Texaco and Gulf Oil, grew into formidable competitors to Standard Oil. [7]

Among those drilling at Spindletop was W. Scott Heywood, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, who in 1901 made the first oil discovery in nearby Jeff Davis Parish in southwestern Louisiana. In 1932, Heywood was elected to a single term in the Louisiana State Senate. [8]

Production at Spindletop began to decline rapidly after 1902, and the wells produced only 10,000 barrels per day (1,600 m3/d) by 1904. [3] On November 14, 1925, the Yount-Lee Oil Company brought in its McFaddin No. 2 at a depth around 2,500 feet (800 m), sparking a second boom, which culminated in the field's peak production year of 1927, during which 21 million barrels (3.3 GL) were produced. [3] Over the 10 years following the McFaddin discovery, more than 72 million barrels (11.4 GL) of oil were produced, mostly from the newer areas of the field.[ citation needed ] Spindletop continued as a productive source of oil until about 1936. It was then mined for sulfur from the 1950s to about 1975.[ citation needed ]

Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum

The Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum The Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum.jpg
The Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum

In 1976, Lamar University dedicated the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum to preserve the history of the Spindletop oil gusher era in Beaumont. The museum features an oil derrick and many reconstructed Gladys City building interiors furnished with authentic artifacts from the Spindletop boomtown period. [9]

The Lucas Gusher Monument is located at the museum. The monument, erected at the wellhead in July, 1941, was moved to the Spindletop-Gladys City Museum after it became unstable due to ground subsidence. According to an article by Nedra Foster, LS in the July/August, 2000 issue of the Professional Surveyor Magazine, the monument was originally located within 4 ft of the site of the Spindletop well. [10]

Today, the wellhead is marked at Spindletop Park by a flagpole flying the Texas flag. It is located about 1.5 miles southwest of the museum, off West Port Arthur Road/Spur 93. The site includes a viewing platform with information placards, about a quarter mile from the flagpole. The wellhead site is in the middle of swampland on private land and is not accessible. Directions to the park and viewing platform are available at the museum.[ citation needed ]

On December 4, 1955, the Spindletop story was dramatized in "Spindletop – The First Great Texas Oil Strike (January 10, 1901)" on the CBS history series, You Are There . Robert Bray was cast as Pattillo Higgins, Mike Ragan as Marion Fletcher, Parley Baer as Captain Lucas, Jean Byron as Caroline Lucas, DeForest Kelley as Al Hammill, Tyler McVey as Mayor Wheat, and William Fawcett as a farmer. [11]

See also

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The Gusher Marathon is an annual spring marathon held in Beaumont, Texas. It was founded in 2010 by the local nonprofit organization Sports Society for American Health and sponsored by Exygon Gym and Baptist Hospitals. The Gusher in Gusher Marathon refers to the 1901 discovery of oil at the spindletop salt dome in Beaumont. The course is a flat, fast USATF Sanctioned and Certified, Boston Qualifier. The course begins at the Montagne Center of Lamar University and tours much of Downtown Beaumont before returning to Lamar University. The Gusher also offers 5K and half marathon distances in addition to the full marathon. The 2011 marathon was moved to mid march to take advantage of cooler weather.

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The Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum is located in Beaumont, Texas, to commemorate the discovery of oil at the Spindletop Hill salt dome in Beaumont on Jan. 10, 1901. The discovery sparked an oil boom in Texas that continues today. Along with a gift shop with commemorative gifts, the museum features historical, period reenactments by area performers. A replica of the wooden oil derricks that once dotted the landscape of Spindletop Hill in the early 1900s has been erected near the museum. For special occasions and anniversaries, the museum staff “blows the gusher” with a plume of water and provides a historical narrative and sound effects to simulate the discovery of oil at Spindletop.

Walter Scott Heywood, known as W. Scott Heywood, was a member of the Louisiana State Senate who earlier headed a family-owned company which struck the first oil well in Louisiana on September 21, 1901 near Jennings in Jeff Davis Parish.

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References

  1. National Park Service (November 2, 2013). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service.
  2. Hyne, Norman J., Nontechnical guide to petroleum geology, exploration, drilling, and production, Pennwell Books, 2nd ed. p. 193 ISBN   978-0-87814-823-3
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Wooster, Robert; Sanders, Christine Moor: Spindletop Oilfield from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved October 18, 2009., Texas State Historical Association
  4. Daniel Yergin, The Prize, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, pp.75–78.
  5. Daniel Yergin, The Prize, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, p.75.
  6. Daniel Yergin, The Prize, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, p.69.
  7. Ron Chernow, Titan: the Life of John D. Rockefeller {New York: Random House, 1998} 431.
  8. "Heywood, Walter Scott". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Archived from the original on February 25, 2010. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  9. http://www.spindletop.org/tour/index.html
  10. "Spindletop – The First Great Texas Oil Strike (January 10, 1901)(4 Dec. 1955), You Are There". Internet Movie Data Base . Retrieved April 20, 2014.