History of Spindletop and the Oil Boom
by Martha Rogers
Texas is known for its oil and gas industry. Major oil companies like Shell, Standard Oil and Atlantic Refining Company have had headquarters in Texas. The Houston and East Gulf Coast area is full of refineries and storage facilities for oil. Much of Texas' economy relies on oil.
The very first oil well in Texas gushed forth on the coast near the town of Beaumont one hundred and twenty years ago on January 10, 1901. Little did anyone realize the impact that one gusher would have on the state of Texas and the oil industry.
Patillo Higgins needed gas for his brickyard. About four miles south of Beaumont rose a mound of ground called Spindletop because of its shape due to the pine trees growing there. The mound was famous for its gas seeps. Higgins figured it might be worth exploring. He joined up with four other men in 1892. George O'Brian, George W. Carroll, J. F. Lanier and Higgins formed the Gladys City Oil to do exploratory drilling. They tried drilling, but ran into trouble when they hit a quicksand like formation. Discouraged, Higgins left the group in 1896.
Higgins then teamed with Anthony F. Lucas, a leading expert in the U.S. on salt-dome formations and the minerals to be found in them. Lucas made a lease agreement with the Gladys City Company in 1899 and another agreement with Higgins. After a number of efforts, he ran out of money and looked for additional funding. That funding came from John H. Galey, James M. Guffey and Andrew Mellon and the Guffey Petroleum Company came into being. The deal wasn't that good because it left Lucas with only an eighth share and Higgins nothing.
At a rate of 100,000 barrels a day, the Texas oil industry came into being.
The park gives access to viewing the flagpole and site, but the site itself is in the middle of what is now swampland on private land and not accessible. Information about getting to the park is available at the museum.
Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and multi-published best-selling author from Realms Fiction of Charisma Media and Winged Publications. She was named Writer of the Year at the Texas Christian Writers Conference in 2009. She is a member of ACFW and writes the weekly Verse of the Week for the ACFW Loop. ACFW awarded her the Volunteer of the Year in 2014. Her first electronic series from Winged Publications, Love in the Bayou City of Texas, debuted in the spring of 2015. Martha is a frequent speaker for writing workshops and the Texas Christian Writers Conference of which she is a director. She is a retired teacher and lives in Houston with her husband, Rex. Their favorite pastime is spending time with their twelve grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.