This week marks the 120th anniversary of a big oil strike at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas. Since this is the dawn of the oil industry, which grew to be the first Trillion dollar industry, we need to see this. We better take a list of the things not to do so we don’t cause a tear in the time continuum.
Let’s climb into the Oldsmobile and be off.
Top Ten Things Not to Do at a Gusher Oil Well Hit in Beaumont Texas in 1901 by John W. Howell © 2021
10 If you go, do not step on the black grass. If you do, at best, you’ll only use one foot. At worse, you’ll go several feet. (The problem is, MacGregor the oil well spewed oil for hundreds of feet coating the landscape. You now are covered from the knees down, and some roughneck wants you to pay up for the oil you are taking.)
9 If you go, do not ask Tiny, the WWF champ, a question as he tries to cap the well. If you do, at best, he’ll be too busy to pay attention to you. At worse, he will stop what he is doing and put a melon hold on your head. (You see, MacKenzie, Tiny has been trying to cap the well for nine days, and so far, the well has showered the area with 900,000 gallons of crude. Tiny has missed several of his coping group meetings, so he is a little tense. Don’t worry, those dimples made by his finger grip will go away in, say, five years.)
8 If you go, do not feel you have to lecture on how fossil fuels were made. If you do, at best, you might find someone to listen. At worst, no one will care since the boss is yelling about the crude oil spilled all over the ground. (The fact that crude was formed by plants and animals under pressure will fall of deaf ears, Maklin. If you could point them to an easy way to pick up the oil, I think you might have something. That big guy over there is telling you to start scooping oil. Nt the time to refuse.)
7 If you go, do not congratulate Patillo Higgens on finding the oil. If you do at best, he won’t be listening. At worse, he will hear you. (Patillo Higgens was the guy who thought there was oil under the salt dome near Beaumont. He leased the land at Spindletop to engineer Anthony Lucas. Lucas is the one who hit paydirt. Higgens had sold his stake in the land before the strike. So you see, MacNab. Higgens is a bitter pill. Speaking of that, I think you ought to start for the door. Higgens is drinking again.)
6 If you go, do not listen to anyone who wants you to buy an oil lease. If you do, at best you won’t have any money. At worse, the man will take an IOU. (Now you are in a pickle, MacPherson. You have given an IOU on a worthless lease. The bright spot is when the guy goes to collect, you will be long gone. All these hucksters and grifters are why Spindletop became known as Swindletop.)
5 If you go, do not try to explain to anyone how Beaumont will become a boomtown. If you do, at best, folks will think you are lying. At worst, you’ll tell Joseph S. Cullinan, who will go on to found the Texas Fuel Company. (Joe was very interested in what you had to say. His company became Texaco, and he very rich. Joe wants you to join him at his company, Masison. Too bad you have to go.)
4 If you go, do not talk about how much oil will be needed for gasoline-powered engines. If you do, at best, you’ll be laughed at. At worse, you’ll have to explain exactly what makes you believe the numbers will be that high. (So now everyone thinks you are weird, Madu. In 1900 there were 4,092 cars. By 2018, there were over 273 Million gasoline vehicles in the US alone. Who’s going to believe those numbers?)
3 If you go, don’t tell anyone about the number of oil wells that will be drilled in Spindletop next year. If you do, at best, your drink will be taken away. At worse, you will be labeled as a fortune teller and run out of town. (you have to admit, Magni, the idea of 285 active oil wells is not something people can grasp. Don’t look now, but the Tar and Feather group has just started a fire.)
2 If you go, do not trip over a president of a drilling or Land development company. If you do, at best, he won’t notice. At worst, he’ll take offense. (It’s going to be hard avoiding those guys since over 500 companies converged on Spindletop. Mahpee. You can be forgiven for being clumsy, except that guy looks like he’s drawing a pistol.)
1 If you go, do not let your Down with Big Oil t-shirt show. If you do, at best, no one will know what big oil is. At worst, you’ll have about 2,000 workers wanting your hide. (The Spindle top area produces over 17 million barrels of oil that first year. That was about $3.4 million or in today’s dollar value over $102M. You can see that any dispersions on oil would be taken seriously, Maichail. I think I would hit the return home button.)