“Spindletop” blew 110 years ago today
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
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