A discarded cigar was responsible for the first oilfield fire at Spindletop (Texas). On September 12, 1902, a Texas Flora Oil Co. well caught fire and the fire quickly spread to 20 wells, several oil storage tanks, and a pumping station. Port Arthur, Texas photographer Frank Trost took the photograph that was used in these postcards. Note the two Beaumont, Tex. versions; one is dyed red for affect (common postcard process for fire scenes!). Also note the version captioned, “Lima, O.” (Ohio). As noted in other posts on this blog, oilfield postcard images were often “shared” and sold in areas other than the actual.
I’m co-authoring a paper on the early drilling in Grand Lake, Ohio (also known as Grand Reservoir, Grand Lake St. Marys, Lake Mercer, etc.). First overwater drilling there appears to be in 1891 and probably in the floodwater area.
I have several postcards in my collection showing scenes of the drilling near and in the lake. Looking for more. Please contact me. More on the history when the paper comes out in early 2018.
“Romantic as it may seem, the discovery well may be termed a ‘dream’ well. It is stated that a dream was responsible for the location of the well by Charles Carnahan, well-known operator of Tidioute. The ‘dreamer’ in the case was the late Hugh Carnahan, father of Charles, himself an old-time operator. Years ago the elder Carnahan dreamed that he saw a flowing well gushing oil near a pile of stone in a natural growth of sumac at a point on the John Siggins farm, three miles south of Tidioute, and on the east side of the Allegheny River. The elder Carnahan, sometime later, expressed a wish that his son should sometime drill at the point indicated in the dream.”
More to the story in the Oil Trade Journal full article.
Photos from a recent visit to Kilgore, Texas where the city has preserved their oil heritage. Great oilfield museum. 50+ steel derricks renovated or replicated around the downtown area & “the world’s richest acre.” Sepia postcards by Jack Nolan, famous East Texas oilfield photographer of the early 30s, soon after the discovery of the giant East Texas Oilfield. B&W postcard from the 40s. There are many, many postcards showing the early activity in and around Kilgore. See “The Glory Days” by Elder & Pirtle (1986) for many town views from the early 40s.