This Week in Petroleum History, August 12 – August 18
August 12, 1930 – Kentucky Oilmen organize
Kentucky salt-well drillers found oil in the 1800s – long before a 1919 discovery in Hancock County launched a true oil boom.
A group of eastern Kentucky oilmen join the Western Kentucky Oil Men’s Association in Frankfort, where articles of incorporation are amended to create a state-wide organization – today’s Kentucky Oil and Gas Association.
A 1919 oil discovery near Pellville in Hancock County had touched off an oil boom in western Kentucky. Some historians credit the state with the first U.S. commercial oil well. See “Kentucky’s Great American Well” of 1829.
August 13, 1962 – Norman Rockwell illustrates Oil and Gas Journal
A Norman Rockwell illustration advertised a leading industry magazine.
Norman Rockwell’s art commemorated the 1959 centennial of the birth of the nation’s oil industry.
The Oil and Gas Journal advertises with an illustration from artist Norman Rockwell captioned, “Where Oil Men Invest Their Valuable Reading Time.”
Beginning in 1916, Rockwell’s renditions of American life and family brought him widespread popularity through magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Boy’s Life, and Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly.
In addition to the Oil and Gas Journal illustration, in 1959 Rockwell provides artwork to the American Petroleum Institute, which sponsors a Postal Service first day of issue to commemorate the centennial of the birth of the nation’s oil industry.
Rockwell’s illustration includes the slogan “Oil’s First Century 1859-1959 Born in Freedom Working for Progress.”
The Rockwell illustration depicts “the men of science, the rugged extraction of the crude oil, and ending with your friendly service station attendant,” notes one collector.
August 15, 1945 – WW II Gasoline Rationing ends
Only four gallons a week allowed.
World War II gasoline rationing ends in the United States one day after President Harry Truman announces the surrender of Japan.
Since the beginning of rationing in December 1942, priority stickers and coupon books had been issued by the Office of Price Administration to conserve petroleum for the war effort. Most civilian automobiles carried “A” stickers – limiting them to four gallons a week.
Higher priority stickers were issued to emergency vehicles. A national speed limit of 35 mph was also imposed to further constrain consumption. In addition to gasoline and fuel oil, wartime rationing included tires, food, clothing, shoes, and coffee.
August 16, 1861 – Future World’s Oldest Producing Oil Well
The McClintock Well No. 1 well site is one of many stops during a 2009 field trip of leading U.S. energy economists and the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. The 1861 well is pumped a few times a year – supplying oil for souvenir bottles sold at the Drake Well Museum in nearby Titusville, Pennsylvania.
Nearby is America's first commercial oil well, drilled by Edwin L. Drake.
Nearby is America’s first commercial oil well, drilled by Edwin L. Drake.
What will become the world’s oldest continuously producing oil well is completed near Rouseville, Pennsylvania.
The McClintock No. 1 well, which is 620 feet deep and produces from the Venango Third Sand, initially produces 50 barrels of oil a day.
The well is about 14 miles from Titusville, where the first U.S. commercial oil well produced from 69.5 feet deep in 1859.
“This is the oldest well in the world that is still producing oil at its original depth,” notes the Oil Region Alliance for Business and Tourism, which promotes the well and other historic petroleum sites in Northwestern Pennsylvania.
“Souvenir bottles of crude oil from McClintock Well No. 1 are available at the Drake Well Museum outside Titusville,” the Alliance adds.
Donated to the state by Quaker State in 1995, today the McClintock well is pumped every other month, producing up to 10 barrels of oil, explains Dan Weaver of the Drake Well Museum.
Although a marker identifies the site, which includes a small pump jack, a 15-horsepower Reid engine and engine house, “thousands of people pass it each year and don’t even know it’s there.”
Pennsylvania’s oil discoveries will lead to exploration in California, including an 1876 well considered by many the birthplace of that state’s petroleum industry. The Pico No. 4 Well discovers the Pico Canyon oilfield – and produces for 114 years until capped in 1990.
August 16, 1927 – Phillips Aviation Gasoline powers Pacific Air Race
Several competitors will disappear over the Pacific during the 1927 Dole Air Race. The winning aircraft today is on display at the Woolaroc Ranch near Bartlesville, Oklahoma.