Faces of Texas Oil

By Story Sloane III

The history of the oil industry in Texas is comprised of many elements. The towering wooden derricks, both cable and rotary, of the early twentieth century would give way to the even bigger steel-framed derricks of the 1930s and on. The art of pounding a hole into the ground would evolve rapidly, providing innovative advancements of drilling technologies. Old drillers remember when the fishtail bit reigned as the best tool available to get the job done; well, that held true until the rotary bit came on the scene. If the operator was lucky enough to produce a genuine Texas gusher, then he needed a pipeline to hook the well up to a battery of storage containers. The refining process would produce gasoline and motor oil, creating service stations that still, even decades later, remain permanent landmarks in our society. Perhaps the most important element of this fantastic industry is the human element.  A combination of investors, company men, driller/wildcatters, engineers, and roughnecks provided the necessary glue to bind this growing industry together. The following images illustrate the early faces of Texas oil.

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