Oklahoma December 30, 2016
These 24 Rare Photos Show Oklahoma’s Oil History Like Never Before
Indian Territory was not known for much more than Native Americans, cows and prairie land before it struck oil in the late 1800s. Word quickly spread around the nation and oil companies flocked to the land that would become Oklahoma in 1907.
In 1901, a huge gusher was discovered near Tulsa making it the “Oil Capital of the World.” The Sooner State quickly became famous worldwide for its “black gold” and was the top U.S. oil producer (along with California) until 1930. The oil industry changed Oklahoma by creating jobs and wealth for many, but it didn’t come without a price. Many lives were lost from fires, accidents and a host of other problems that came from the industry.
Here are 24 rare photos that show Oklahoma’s oil history like never before. (Original captions and dates included when provided from source.)
1. "Cellar for well being dug in parkway just south of capitol." Date unknown.
2. "An excavation crew, digging in the alley behind the John A. Brown Co., in downtown Oklahoma City, has struck oil. The oil, about 11,000 gallons, was found in a 22,000 tank buried 20 feet below the ground." May 12, 1952.
3. "A Newcastle oil well and workers in 1914."
4. "The Carter Oil Co. has a draftsman in its map department who becomes a flutist at night. She is Feodora DeGrasse." November 27, 1953.
5. "An oil tank on fire in Cleveland on February 14, 1939."
6. "Sunday was just another work day for officials of the Standard Oil Co. and the Carter Oil Co. of Tulsa, who are in Oklahoma this weekend." May 26, 1945.
7. "A fire in one of the early day oil field towns always offered lots of excitement." 1939, Oklahoma City.
8. "Thousands os spectators, most of them representatives of the oil and gas industry, were on hand Thursday for the opening of the 10-day 1966 Tulsa International Petroleum Exposition." May 12, 1966.
9. "Fireman were much in evidence Friday night around the No. 1 McMannis of the Big Chief Drilling Co., in the 100 block Madison Avenue, after the well went wild shot oil and gasoline around the state capitol." Oct 24, 1941.
10. "Crowd in front of oil well and bank in Lawton." Aug. 20, 1901.
11. "Under a billowing column of heavy black smoke, firemen pour chemicals on a blaze which followed an explosion in an 80,000-barrel storage tank at the Cimarron Valley Pipe Line Co., a mile north of the state fairgrounds."
12. "Oil worker runs wrong way, dies under derrick." March 9, 1942.
13. "The latest in machinery went on display on Duncan's Main Street Monday morning as Oil Appreciation week opened." November 12, 1948.
14. "Research engineers Gerald Ortloff, left, and James W. Lacey, are shown taking data from the instrument panel." April 8, 1955.
15. "From 20 to 30 wells are being reconditioned in the Wilcox zone of the Oklahoma City field at this time and scenes such as this are familiar." 1941.
16. "S. V. Hodges - Big Chief Drlg Co. Oil Driller." June 5, 1936.
17. "THE SHOW MUST GO ON, Skelly Oil Co. officials decided in the middle of a recent Oklahoma "norther," and a circus tent was about the only solution." 1972.
18. "Tulsa - Oil Scout." Date unknown.
19. "Oil workers." September 18, 1937.
20. It's a kind of elevator, but nothing like you'd find in an office building." 1978.
21. “Natives of Healdton oil field 1000 years behind the times, drilling by hand.” 1915.
22. "Postcard: The way millionaires are made.” Depicts an oil well in Drumright, Oklahoma in 1915.
23. "Wintertime in the oil field, c. 1915."
24. Steamboat on the Arkansas River, c. 1906 that read: “BOUND FOR OKLAHOMA. THE BIGGEST OIL AND GAS FIELD IN THE WORLD.”
If you enjoy vintage photos of Oklahoma, make sure you check out these
10 Vintage Photos Taken During WWII In Oklahoma.