January 10, 1901

On this day, Jan 10 in 1901, the

Spindletop oilfield was discovered on a salt dome south of Beaumont,

marking the birth of the modern petroleum industry. Pattillo Higgins,

the “prophet of Spindletop,” and others had tried for years to find oil

on Spindletop Hill, but with no success.

In 1899, however, Higgins

hooked up with Anthony F. Lucas. Despite negative reports from

contemporary geologists, Lucas remained convinced that oil was in the

salt domes of the Gulf Coast.

On January 10 mud began bubbling from a

well that Lucas had spudded in the previous October. 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.

The discovery of the Spindletop oilfield had an almost incalculable

effect on world and Texas history. Investors spent billions of dollars

throughout the Lone Star State in search of oil and natural gas. The

cheap fuel they found helped to revolutionize American transportation

and industry.

Many of the major oil companies were born at Spindletop or

grew to major corporate size as a result of their involvement at

Spindletop, including Texaco, Gulf Oil Corporation, Magnolia Petroleum

Company, and Exxon Company, U.S.A.

Source: Texas State Historical Association