Texas Ingenuity History

 

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Historic - The Excelsior House (Jefferson; 903/665-2513 or 800/490-7270)


 

 

 

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Texas Tea Served up at Spindletop

Along the banks and in the center of the Paluxy River in Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose you can see dinosaur footprints. Right there in the stream. You can make out the big toe of a brontosaurus-like sauropod called a Pleurocoelus and stand in the footprint of a relative of the famed T-Rex. Some people wonder what they were doing in that part of prehistoric Texas.

Were they making oil?

 Despite the sometimes popular belief that oil comes from dead dinosaurs, it really came from the goop that oozed up between the dinosaur’s toes; tiny organisms like algae and diatoms. As billions of these creatures died and decayed, their sludgy remains sunk to the bottom of the sea. After a really long time, their remains became deposits of oil. It seems like even back then, these tiny Texas creatures thought big Texas thoughts, because the Texas organisms were mighty productive, giving Texas an abundance of oil deposits just waiting for modern industry to find a need for it.  … continues…

 

Photograph of Spindletop taken by Frank J. Troust, January 12, 1901. (Courtesy of Texas Energy Museum, Beaumont, Texas.)

On January 10, 1901, the well reached a depth of over a thousand feet. The roughnecks lowered the drill bit into the hole to dig even deeper. Suddenly a gush of mud spewed up from the hole. They backed off the rig, and the mud stopped flowing. When they returned to clean up the mud, it erupted again, but this time with more force. With a blast that could be heard for miles, a gusher of mud spit out of the hole followed by a geyser of oil that spouted 200 feet into the air. Six tons of four-inch drilling pipes blew into the sky, and the roughnecks scrambled for their lives. Men working in a nearby rice field… continues…

 

Photo of the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum in Beaumont, Texas. (Photo by Author.)

 

The Gladys City Boomtown Museum is a National Historic Landmark. Since its dedication in 1976, over a half million people have visited Gladys City.

Texas Tidbit: Three major oil companies (Gulf, Texaco, and Mobil (now ExxonMobil)) all trace their beginnings back to the Spindletop gusher.

The story continues in the book Texas Ingenuity... For complete information on this and other Texas stories…