Spindletop Oilfield Historical Background

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SPINDLETOP OILFIELD. The Spindletop oilfield, discovered on a salt dome formation south of Beaumont in eastern Jefferson County on January 10, 1901, marked the birth of the modern petroleum industry. The Gladys City Oil, Gas, and Manufacturing Company, formed in August 1892 by George W. O'Brien, George W. Carroll, Pattillo Higgins, Emma E. John, and J. F. Lanier, was the first company to drill on Spindletop Hill. Three shallow attempts, beginning in 1893 and using cable-tool drilling equipment were unsuccessful; Lanier and Higgins had left the company by 1895. Anthony F. Lucas, the leading United States expert on salt dome formations, made a lease with the Gladys City Company in 1899. Higgins and Lucas made a separate agreement a month later.…show more content…
Eager to find similar deposits, investors spent billions of dollars throughout the Lone Star state in search of oil and natural gas. The cheap fuel they found helped to revolutionize American transportation and industry. Storage facilities, pipelines, and major refining units were built in the Beaumont, Port Arthur, Sabine Pass, and Orange areas around Spindletop. By 1902 there were more than 500 Texas corporations doing business in Beaumont. Many of the major oil companies were born at Spindletop or grew to major corporate size as a result of their involvement at Spindletop. The Texas Company (later Texaco), Gulf Oil Corporation, Sun Oil Company, Magnolia Petroleum Company, and Humble (later Exxon Company, U.S.A.) were a few of the major corporations. The Spindletop oilfield again boomed in the 1950s, with the production of sulphur by Texas Gulf Sulphur Company (later Texasgulf ), until about 1975. Salt-brine extraction became a lucrative operation in the 1950s. In 1963–66 even deeper oil production was achieved with an average depth of 9,000 feet. The old field continued in the 1990s to yield very limited oil production in the form of stripper wells and salt brine production. Some parts of the salt dome cavities were being developed as storage facilities for petroleum products. In commemoration of the importance of the development of Spindletop oilfield, a Texas pink granite monument was erected in 1941 near the site of the Lucas gusher. The withdrawal of oil, sulphur, and brine from beneath the surface, however, caused the Spindletop dome to subside, and the monument was moved to the recreated Spindletop/Gladys City Boomtown Museum across the highway on the Lamar University campus at Beaumont. The Gladys City Company, as well as many major oil companies, continued to reap the benefit of their involvement in the discovery of the Spindletop

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