Texas Through Time

Texas Through Time. Lone Star Geology, Landscapes, and Resources (2016); edited by Thomas E. Ewing.  Bureau of Economic Geology (http://www.beg.utexas.edu/), 431 pp.

Ten great chapters bursting with color photographs, charts, and maps.  A special section that includes 72 “Great Places to View Texas Geology” will become the geologic “bucket list” for many Texas geologists and others interested in the mountains, hills, and plains of Texas.

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Japan’s oldest oil field

These two postcards are of Japan’s Nishiyama oil field. The two-view postcard (postmarked in 1927) shows “Nippon’s Nishigasaki Rotary No. 1 Flowing.” This same view is captioned, “Well about one mile from Nishiyama field, the oldest field in Japan.  All gasoline produced in Japan is refined from oil in this field.  Note the thatch covering over derrick timbers” (Mining and Oil Bulletin, June, 1920, p.407).

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Burning Oil Tank – Spindletop – 1902

Frank Trost (1868-1944) of Port Arthur, Texas photographed early scenes of the Spindletop oilfield (discovered in 1901), including the famous photograph of the Lucas Gusher. His other Spindletop views were of oilfield fires, derrick scenes, and other gushers. Trost became known as “The Gusher Photographer.”

Many of Trost’s photographs were copyrighted and produced as postcards. Several have labels stating that they were produced by the Tom Jones Publishing Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, and sold by the Szafirs Stationers of Beaumont, Texas.  The Tom Jones Art Publishing Company was a printing and engraving company from 1900-1917.  The company also published scenic souvenirs and postcards.

Trost’s photograph of a burning oil storage tank near Spindletop was included in the 1906 USGS Bulletin #282 (Plate IV) and the caption identifies the scene as a September, 1902 fire. This photograph was produced as a postcard, in a “stained” red version and in black and white; both captioned, “Greetings from Beaumont, Tex.”  Another version of this postcard has a title of “Greetings from Lima, Ohio.”

The postcard scans here include the two Beaumont versions; the black & white is postmarked 9/8/1904 and the red stained is postmarked 5/4/1905. The Lima version is postmarked from Lima on 12/22/1904 (also dated on the handwriting).

SPENCER, Jeff A., 2011, Oilfield photographers – three who captured North American oil booms, Frank Robbins, Frank Trost, and Jack Nolan, Oil-Industry History, v. 12, p. 45-57.

Boom Town

One of the best-known oilfield movies, Boom Town (1940) starred Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr, and Claudette Colbert. A Cosmopolitan magazine article, A Lady Comes to Burkburnett was the inspiration for the movie. The Burkburnett oil field, discovered in 1912, is located ~15 miles north of Wichita Falls, Texas near the Texas/Oklahoma state line. Many wells were drilled within the town site. A color still shows a scene from the movie in which Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable suit up in early burlap firefighting gear with a blazing oilfield fire in the background. On the reverse of this photograph, within a typed section entitled, “Story in pictures of Boom Town,” is the sentence, “Wherever men seek sudden and fabulous wealth from Mother Earth there is action and thrills.” Promotional postcards showed the movie’s four stars on the front and local theater information on the reverse. As with many American films, Boom Town was released in other countries.   Promotional material for the German version, Der Draufganger, includes a four-page program.

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

Albania

On the reverse of this postcard (translation by my friend Marius Furcuta) is printed “Towards Albania, in the petroleum city of Stalin” and “Lenin Printing House, Pravda Publisher”. The year 1958 is also printed on this unused/non-postmarked postcard.

The south-central Albanian city of Kucova was known as Stalin or Stalin City from December 19, 1950 until late 1990. The Kucova oil field was discovered in 1928 and is the second largest oil field in the country.  A 2008 news release stated that the oil field had more than 490 million barrels of original oil in place with an average API gravity of 17 degrees.  By then end of 2006 a total of 1700 wells had been drilled and approximately 23 million barrels of oil produced.

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Maracaibo

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Stirling Silliphant (1918-1996) was a screenwriter for many TV series, such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Perry Mason, Route 66, and Naked City, and movies such as The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, and The Swarm.  He won a Best Screenplay Academy Award for In the Heat of the Night (1967).  He turned a rejected screenplay into his 1955 novel, Maracaibo, which was the basis for the movie of the same name three years later.

Cornel Wilde directed and starred in the 1958 movie, playing Vic Scott, an oil well fire fighter in Venezuela. A young Michael Landon had a role in Maracaibo, Landon’s second movie role.  There are many varieties of movie posters and lobby cards for Maracaibo; many with scenes of a burning oil well.  Note the disclaimer in the lower left of the one here; “Not suitable for children.”