Spindletop Overview

"The modern oil industry was born on a hill in southeastern Texas. This hill was formed by a giant underground dome of salt as it moved slowly towards the surface. As it crept, it pushed the earth that was in its path higher and higher. This dome was known by several names, but the one that stuck was "Spindletop". Through the later half of the 19th century, Pennsylvania had been the most oil-productive state in the country. All that changed on January 10th, 1901. Patillo Higgins, a one-armed mechanic and self-taught geologist, was one of the few at the time who believed that, in the future, modern industry would switch from coal to oil and he believed it lay beneath his feet at Spindletop. Nearing the end of his rope, Higgins ran an advertisement in a local newspaper, and one man, Captain Anthony F. Lucas, replied. Drilling was difficult at first. Lucas and his men ran into the same problems that other drillers had faced along the Texas coastal plain. Curt Hamill, came up with a solution that was revolutionary at the time. Instead of pumping water down the hole to flush out the cuttings produced by the action of the drill, he used mud. It was found there were even more benefits, and mud has been used in almost every drillhole around the world ever since. After a short time, the frustrated and confused drillers set about to clean up the mess and see if anything could be salvaged. All of a sudden, a noise like a cannon shot came from the hole, and mud came shooting out of the ground like a rocket. Within a few seconds, natural gas, then oil followed. The oil "gusher" - greenish-black in color, doubled the size of the drilling derrick, rising to a height of more than 150 feet (about 50 meters). This was more oil than had ever been seen anywhere in the entire world. Captain Lucas had been hopeful that this well might produce 5 barrels per day. In fact, this well, "Lucas 1", flowed at an initial rate of nearly 100,000 barrels per day, more than all of the other producing wells in the United States COMBINED!"

After Spindletop, there was an oil boom that followed. Though there was never another oil well as successful as Spindletop, there was an oil boom that lasted for around 2 years.


Oil Industry in Texas

The oil boom created a large demand for products needed by the oil industry. As the oil industry grew, Texas cities, towns, and businesses increased in size. The population of Beaumont, jumped from 10,000 people to 50,000 in just a few months. The Corsicana Oil Field discovery was monumental in bringing Texas into the national oil industry, but no discovery had as great of an impact on Texas oil production as the discovery of the Spindletop well. Texas became one of the leading states in oil production in the U.S producing 75,000 barrels a day.

Graph/ Infographic

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Social and Economic Effects

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Oil Wells Today

Oil wells have developed over the years.