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OIL! The Lucas Gusher January 10 1901 Texas History 2182-3364-600

The Discovery of Oil on The Big Hill!

Primary Multiple Photos | Library of Congress

Search results 1 - 25 of 144.

Primary Photo of The Lucas Gusher, 1901

Photograph of the Lucas gusher in 1901. The Lucas gusher is a spindletop that is gushing oil out of the top of it. On the ground surrounding the spindletop are several workers, two holding a large hose.

Primary Background Photo Oil Field in Beaumont, Texas, 1901 - The Portal to Texas History

Photograph of very many derricks in an oil field. In the foreground are wooden shacks, stacks of wooden boards, smokestacks with smoke plumes rising out of them. In the bottom right-hand corner is the name, "Trost".

Primary Day of Discovery Spindletop: The premier issue on the birth of the Texas oil i...

Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers offers the largest inventory of original historic newspapers for sale, all guaranteed authentic and all at great prices.

Primary Color/Filler The Daily Enterprise (Beaumont, Tex.), Vol. 5, No. 288, Ed. 1 Friday, January 10, 1902 - : Searc...

Daily newspaper from Beaumont, Texas that includes local, state and national news along with extensive advertising.

Primary - Color/Filler The Houston Daily Post (Houston, Tex.), Vol. XVIth YEAR, No. 284, Ed. 1, Sunday, January 13, 1...

Daily newspaper from Houston, Texas that includes local, state and national news along with extensive advertising.

Primary Color/Filler The Houston Daily Post (Houston, Tex.), Vol. XVIth YEAR, No. 286, Ed. 1, Tuesday, January 15, 19...

Daily newspaper from Houston, Texas that includes local, state and national news along with extensive advertising.

Primary Color/Filler Brownsville Daily Herald (Brownsville, Tex.), Vol. NINE, No. 167, Ed. 1, Wednesday, January 16, ...

Daily newspaper from Brownsville, Texas that includes local, state and national news along with extensive advertising.

Primary Color/Filler The Democrat. (McKinney, Tex.), Vol. 17, No. 51, Ed. 1 Thursday, January 17, 1901 - The Portal t...

Weekly newspaper from McKinney, Texas that includes local, state and national news along with advertising.

Primary Color/Filler The Lampasas Leader. (Lampasas, Tex.), Vol. 13, No. 8, Ed. 1 Friday, January 18, 1901 - The Port...

Weekly newspaper from Lampasas, Texas that includes local, state, and national news along with advertising.

Primary? Secondary? Photos Spindletop Oil Field | Museum Collection

Museum collection of historical images of Spindletop Oil Field, Beaumont, Texas, c.1901-1910

Secondary (1958) Oral History of events leading to the Lucas Gusher | AMERICAN HERITAGE

The story of the first great Texas oil well, which ushered in a new century and a new age, as remembered by participants

Seconday (1946) Issue Southwest Historic Quarterly

© 2015
The University of Texas at Arlington.
University of Texas Arlington Libraries
702 Planetarium Place • Arlington, TX 76019

Secondary Historical Data: 1994 Heritage, Volume 12, Number 3, Summer 1994

Quarterly publication containing articles related to the preservation of historic artifacts and sites in Texas. Feature articles discuss various aspects of Texas history and heritage, often highlighting museums and collections within the state. Also included are book reviews, current preservation news, and a listing of historical museums in Texas.

Secondary: Overall History of Spindletop

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Southeast Texas economy, like that of most of the South, relied on subsistence agriculture, but cattle ranching and the lumber business were also important. Large ranches sent cattle to New Orleans, and mills in Beaumont and Orange produced lumber for shipment to the rest of America and overseas. Southeast Texas had another resource - oil - but the amount underground remained a mystery.

Secondary 1988 Dallas Morning News Article: Name Correction

© 2015
The University of Texas at Arlington.
University of Texas Arlington Libraries
702 Planetarium Place • Arlington, TX 76019

Secondary Biography: Geologist/Driller LUCAS, ANTHONY FRANCIS

LUCAS, ANTHONY FRANCIS (1855–1921). Anthony Francis Lucas, petroleum engineer, was born Antonio Francisco Luchich, son of Capt. Francis Stephen and Giovanna (Giovanizo) Luchich, at Spalato on Austria's Dalmation coast. He graduated at age twenty from the Polytechnic Institute in Graz and entered the Austrian Naval Academy. He rose to the rank of second lieutenant but took a six months' leave of absence in 1879 to visit an uncle in Saginaw, Michigan. Lucas found employment in the lumber country and secured a second leave from his naval service. At the end of the year he decided to remain in the United States and changed his name to Lucas, as his uncle had done before him. Lucas received his naturalization papers on May 9, 1885, at Norfolk, Virginia. He married Caroline Weed Fitzgerald, daughter of a prominent physician, in 1887 and moved to Washington, D.C. Their son, Anthony Fitzgerald Lucas, was born in 1892. The elder Lucas, a mechanical and mining engineer, ranged from Colorado to Louisiana in search of gold and salt. From 1893 to 1896 Lucas superintended salt-mining operations for a New Orleans company at Petite Anse (Avery Island), Louisiana. In further drills at Anse la Butte, Belle Isle, and Grand Cote (Weeks Island), he found traces of salt deposits and oil characteristic of the salt domes of the Gulf Coast. As a result of his exploration, he became the foremost expert on these formations in the United States. In 1899 Lucas answered a trade journal advertisement for a drilling contractor inserted by Pattillo Higgins. Lucas leased 663 acres south of Beaumont at Spindletop and began drilling in June 1900. Although he located traces of oil, he found drilling extremely difficult, and his light equipment collapsed after reaching a depth of 575 feet. With funds exhausted, Higgins and Mrs. Lucas convinced the engineer to seek additional financing. Most contemporary geologists disagreed with Lucas's salt dome theory, but he finally convinced John H. Galey and James M. Guffey of Pittsburgh to join the project. With the promise of Guffey's economic backing, Lucas secured more land for the new partnership on and around the barely perceptible Spindletop Hill. Guffey's terms, however, were stringent: Lucas himself would retain only a small percentage; Higgins was cut out entirely. Drilling nonetheless commenced on October 27, 1900. Assisted by Al and Kurt Hamill and their experienced crew, Lucas pierced the difficult sands and brought in the Spindletop oilfield on January 10, 1901. The discovery revolutionized world fuel uses and transformed the economy of Southeast Texas. Although Lucas subsequently drilled wells for Guffey at Bryan Heights and Damon Mound, he sought to shun the publicity surrounding the Spindletop boom. He went to Mexico in 1902 and later served as a consulting engineer in Russia, Rumania, and various fields in the United States. Lucas died at his home in Washington, D.C., on September 2, 1921, and was buried in that city's Rock Creek Cemetery.

Secondary 1954 Time Magazine Short Article on Higgins

© 2015
The University of Texas at Arlington.
University of Texas Arlington Libraries
702 Planetarium Place • Arlington, TX 76019

Secondary Biography: Prophet of Spindletop HIGGINS, PATTILLO

HIGGINS, PATTILLO (1863–1955). Pattillo Higgins, called by some the "prophet of Spindletop," was born on December 5, 1863, in Sabine Pass, Texas, the son of Robert James and Sarah (Raye) Higgins. By the time he was six, his family had moved to Beaumont, where he attended school until he reached the fourth grade. Thereafter he left school and apprenticed with his father, a gunsmith. As a teenager, Higgins was a troublemaker and a practical joker. At age seventeen he was involved in an altercation with some sheriff's deputies who were attempting to prevent him from harassing blacks. After the smoke cleared, a deputy was dead, and Higgins had suffered a wound in his arm that eventually led to its amputation. In the investigation and trial that followed, Higgins claimed he shot in self-defense and the jury believed him. After the incident he went to work in various lumber camps along the Texas-Louisiana border. The loss of his arm did not prevent him from logging nor did it seem to curb his wild ways. In 1885, however, his life took a dramatic turn after he attended a Baptist revival meeting. Persuaded by the preacher to accept Christ as his savior, Higgins abandoned his violent ways and the sometimes immoral atmosphere of the lumber camps to settle down in Beaumont and become a respectable businessman. As he explained, "I used to put my trust in my trust is in God." Higgins's conversion was so complete that he began to teach Sunday School classes for young ladies at his home church. He had saved and invested his extra cash while working in the lumber camps, and upon his return to Beaumont he established himself as a real estate broker. In 1886 he expanded his business by forming the Higgins Manufacturing Company to make brick.

Secondary Background: Spindletop launches Modern Petroleum Industry

The 1901 "Lucas Gusher” in Texas reveals the Spindletop oilfield, which will produce more oil in one day than the rest of the world’s oilfields combined.


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. With Lucas in charge of the drilling operation, another attempt was made on the John Allen Veatch survey on Gladys City Company lands. Lucas was able to drill to a depth of 575 feet before running out of money. He was also having great difficulty with the tricky sands of the salt dome. Despite the negative reports from contemporary geologists, Lucas remained convinced that oil was in the salt domes of the Gulf Coast. He finally secured the assistance of John H. Galeyqv and James M. Guffey of Pittsburg. Much of the Guffey and Galey support was financed in turn by the Mellon interest; their terms excluded Higgins and left Lucas with only a small share of the potential profits. Nonetheless, Lucas pressed ahead in his effort to vindicate his theories. Galey and Guffey played a crucial role by bringing in Al and Curt Hamill, an experienced drilling team from Corsicana. Lucas spudded in a well on October 27, 1900, on McFaddin-Wiess and Kyle land that adjoined the Gladys City Company lands. A new heavier and more efficient rotary type bit was used. From October to January 1901, Lucas and the Hamills struggled to overcome the difficult oil sands, which had stymied previous drilling efforts. On January 10 mud began bubbling from the hole. The startled roughnecks fled as six tons of four-inch drilling pipe came shooting up out of the ground. After several minutes of quiet, mud, then gas, then oil spurted out. The Lucas geyser, found at a depth of 1,139 feet, blew a stream of oil over 100 feet high until it was capped nine days later and flowed an estimated 100,000 barrels a day. Lucas and the Hamills finally controlled the geyser on January 19, when a huge pool of oil surrounded it, and throngs of oilmen, speculators, and onlookers had transformed the city of Beaumont. A new age was born. The world had never seen such a gusher before. By September 1901 there were at least six successful wells on Gladys City Company lands. Wild speculation drove land prices around Spindletop to incredible heights. One man who had been trying to sell his tract there for $150 for three years sold his land for $20,000; the buyer promptly sold to another investor within fifteen minutes for $50,000. One well, representing an initial investment of under $10,000, was sold for $1,250,000. Beaumont's population rose from 10,000 to 50,000. Legal entanglements and multimillion-dollar deals became almost commonplace. An estimated $235 million had been invested in oil that year in Texas; while some had made fortunes, others lost everything.

Secondary: Spindletop and impacts moving forward to Texas

  For Texans, the 20th century did not begin on January 1, 1901, as it did for everyone else. It began nine days later, on Jan. 10, when, spurting drilling pipe, mud, gas and oil, the Lucas No. 1 well blew in at Spindletop near Beaumont. The gusher spewed oil more than 100 feet into the air until it was capped nine days later.

Secondary Background Info: De Soto to Spindletop: How oil birthed modern Houston

In his reckless youth, Pattillo Higgins shot up an African-American church and killed a sheriff's deputy. Higgins, arguably the father of the Texas oil rush, is just one of a long list of risk-takers who helped transform Houston from a burgeoning timber and port town into the energy capital of the world, home to thousands of companies that find, produce, refine and transport fuels that drive the global economy. "Spindletop is the birthplace of the modern oil industry," said Tyler Priest, a former University of Houston energy historian now at the University of Iowa. Some historians trace the initial U.S. oil discovery to the Texas Gulf Coast in 1543, when the survivors of the Hernando de Soto expedition were forced ashore between the Sabine Pass and Galveston while fleeing to Mexico City. In Texas, however, extensive oil exploration had to wait until after the Civil War. After serving as a captain in the Confederate Army, he returned home and used a rudimentary form of rotary drilling in 1866 to complete a well that produced about 10 barrels of oil a day. The next Texas milestone came in 1894 in Corsicana, where the town was drilling for water and found oil mixing in with its potential drinking-water supply. The discovery reverberated around the world and thousands of people flocked to Beaumont, including Cullinan, who formed the Texas Fuel Company, which later became Texaco, and other founders of early petroleum giants such as Humble Oil, Gulf Oil and Sun Oil. Production quickly moved to Houston, where companies could find financing to explore new fields and railroads to move crude to refineries and fuel to customers. With mass production of automobiles underway, the prevalence of Texas oil and Henry Ford's gasoline-powered Model T "sealed the deal" for gasoline as the source of transportation power, instead of electricity or steam, Pratt said.

Texas - State Energy Profile Overview - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Petroleum prices, supply and demand information from the Energy Information Administration - EIA - Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government