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A Brief History of Oil Rigs in America

In the beginning, oil was unwanted. It was considered an annoying byproduct by drillers who were trying to locate brine wells.

Then a Canadian invented something called “rock oil” that could be used in lamps instead of hard-to-find whale oil. That plus a few other factors combined to create a demand for oil that is still felt today.

When we go to the gas station and get upset because gas prices have gone up overnight, we’re reacting to an increase in the price of crude oil. It’s such a large part of American life that most people don’t spend much time thinking about how we got to this point.

To understand our present, it helps to know about the history of oil. Read on to find out more about where oil has been and where it’s going.

Edwin Drake and the First Commercial Oil Wells

As far as nicknames go, Edwin Drake’s wasn’t exactly ideal. He was called “Crazy Drake” for all the time and money he devoted to the seemingly fruitless quest to find oil.

But on Aug. 27, 1859, Drake silenced the naysayers by hitting oil after drilling 69 feet into the ground in Titusville, Pennsylvania. The Drake oil well was the first commercial oil well, and it made the Keystone State the center of a new rush on oil.

While Drake was responsible for creating an innovative new system of drilling for oil, he neglected to patent that method and died without money. After his death, Time magazine referred to him as “a sickly, bearded, failure of a man in a stovepipe hat.”

Drake’s life may have had an ignoble ending, but oil history owes a debt to him for starting something much more significant than himself.

The History of Oil in Texas

The oil boom spread quickly, and in January 1901, the Spindletop gusher “blew out” in southeast Texas. A stream of oil soared to heights of more than 100 feet until it was capped nine days later.

The Spindletop oilfield was soon producing around 100,000 gallons of oil per day. It was located in a salt dome on the Gulf Coast, validating engineer Anthony Lucas’ belief that such salt domes were hiding mass amounts of oil. Roughnecks had to drill over 1,100 feet before they found the Lucas geyser, but that discovery completely reshaped both Texas and American history.

Before too long, swarms of investors began fanning out across the Lone Star State in search of oil and natural gas deposits. Today, oil rig equipment continues to dot the Texas landscape, and the energy industry is still a major part of the state’s economy.

A monument to the oil industry history created by Spindletop can be found on the Lamar University campus in Beaumont.

The Future of Oil

Now that we’ve covered the history of oil, it’s time to focus on the future.

We’re experts in the oil and petroleum industry. We’re especially proud of our ability to furnish clients with braking systems for both service rigs and draw-works.

We also excel at designing custom products. If you’ve got old equipment that needs to be reconditioned or retrofitted, we can handle that as well.

Learn about our areas of expertise, and then give us a call.

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