Grand Lake/Reservoir, Ohio

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.

Carnahan No. 1 Siggins – “dream well” – postcard and story

“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.

Kilgore, Texas….today and yesterday

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.

Jennings (Evangeline) oil field, Louisiana

The Jennings (Evangeline) oil field, Acadia Parish, was Louisiana’s first oil discovery,  just a few months after the January, 1901 discovery of Spindletop oil field near Beaumont, Texas.

These postcards show some scenes from the oilfield over the years. The photos (from May 17, 2017) show some of the historical markers from the area. The reconstructed wooden derrick and the sign with the men are at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Park off Interstate 10 and Route 26. The other historical marker is off Route 97 within the oilfield area, as are the fence paintings.

SPENCER, Jeff and MILLER, Byron, 2001, 100 years of exploration and production at Jennings Field, Gulf  Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions, v. 51, p. 305-312.

SPENCER, Jeff A., and MILLER, Byron, 2003, Jennings Oil Field: the start of Louisiana’s oil industry: Oil Industry History, v. 4, p. 13-19.

SPENCER, Jeff A., 2010, Early commercialized views of Spindletop, Texas and Jennings, Louisiana oil fields, Oil-Industry History, v. 11, p. 39-42.


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jennnings derrick

Thunder Bay (1953)

“Thunder Bay” (1953) brought offshore drilling for oil to the big screen; the very big screen, as the movie was Universal Pictures first wide-screen format film. The movie also premiered with a new three-speaker stereophonic sound system (  The plot involves two ex-Navy buddies, Steve Martin (James Stewart) and Johnny Gambi (Dan Duryea) trying to be the first to strike oil in offshore Louisiana (1946), and the resistance from the local shrimpers.

The movie was filmed on location near Patterson and Morgan City, Louisiana using the fictional town name of Port Felicity. Filming also took place on an oil barge 30 miles offshore and a few scenes were shot in New Orleans.  Louisiana newspapers covered the filming of the movie during the fall of 1952.  Stewart (1908-1997) described “Thunder Bay” as a Western with boats and oil instead of horses and guns.  During the filming of the movie, co-star Dan Duryea (1907-1968) took a fall from the roof of a tugboat wheelhouse, resulting in bruises, contusions, and a broken rib (The Times, Shreveport, LA 10/17/1952). The Town Talk (10/13/1952) reported that, “The cast of the movie ‘Thunder Bay’ was left high and dry this week at Morgan City, La.  The movie is being filmed by Universal-International.  The film studio had rented a fleet of boats to film a sequence.  But shrimpers had gotten wind of a bonanza catch in the Gulf. So they lit out for the high seas.”

The movie premiered at Lowe’s State Theater, New York City, on May 19, 1953. The many varieties of movie posters, lobby cards, and advertisements for the movie show oil rig scenes, often with catchy captions such as, “The mighty story of the man who fought for the biggest bonanza of them all,” “The hard-hitting story of the adventurers who seek oil under the see, and “A hurricane’s fury before him, a hate-crazed mob at his back and a bayou woman in his blood.” Several movie trailers and film clips of “Thunder Bay” can be found on YouTube.

Spencer, Jeff A., 2012, Oilfield movies: theater posters, lobby cards and other promotional material – selections from pre-1975, Oil-Industry History, v. 13, p. 193-198.

Spencer, Jeff A., 2017, Oilfield movies and Louisiana’s Thunder Bay, New Orleans Geological Society LOG, March, p. 24-25.Thunder bay lobby 2Thunder bay lobby1thunder bay stewart fight lobbyThunder Bay ticket 5_19_1953