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Tulsa and Oklahoma History in the Research Center: Oil and Gas History


"I spent quite a bit of time in the lobby of the Hotel Tulsa between 1914 and 1916. There was always a milling mob in the lobby. Everybody was talking about oil, exchanging information, or 'dope' as we called it."  -J. Paul Getty


On April 15th, Michael Cudahy drills to 1320 feet into what is now called the Bartlesville sand. A shot of nitroglycerin brings in the first commercial oil well in Indian Territory, the Nellie Johnstone (Clark 73).
Oil is discovered at Red Fork, four miles west of Tulsa, on June 24th (Gregory 1).
 J. M. Guffey and John Galey bring the first natural gas to Tulsa (Clark 83).
The 11th Street bridge, Tulsa's first bridge across the Arkansas, is built to provide easier access to the oil activity in West Tulsa (Gregory 5).
Prarie Oil & Gas Co. construct a six-inch line from the Bartlesville field to Caney, KS (Clark 84).
On April 1st, T.N. Barnsdall and G.T. Braden organize the Osage and Oklahoma Company. It's the first time "Oklahoma" is used in connection with the oil and gas industry (Clark 85).
In December, Galbreath and Chessley's well on the Glenn farm , the Ida Glenn  comes in for 75 barrels per day at 1475 feet (Clark 85). 
Frank Phillips first successful oil well comes in on the Caney River (Gregory 24).
Gulf Oil Corporation directs Geo. S. Davison (expert in water problems-no previous oil experience) to design and build pipeline from newly discovered Glenn Pool to Port Arthur, TX (Clark 85).
Prarie Oil & Gas Co. builds pipeline from Glenn Pool to its system in Kansas connecting to refinery at Neodesha (Clark 86).
Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. forms to bring gas from Cleveland to OKC, and the foundation is laid for a major network of Oklahoma intra-state lines (Clark 87).
The Gulf Pipe Line Company completes an eight-inch pipeline from the Glenn Pool to Sour Lake, TX (Clark 88).
The Gypsy Oil Company, a subsidiary of Gulf Oil Corporation, forms in Oklahoma (Clark 88).
D.W. Franchot, et al., builds first "casing-head" gasoline plant in southwest at Kiefer (Clark 93).
Maloney-Crawford Tank & Manufacturing Company is founded in Tulsa (Clark 93).
Glenn Pool to Baton Rouge oil pipeline is completed (Clark 94).
Harry Sinclair organizes the Exchange National Bank. Its first location is at 2nd and Main. It quickly outgrows the location and is moved to a building between 3rd and 4th on Boston Avenue (Gregory 3).
Texaco begins operating in West Tulsa (James 102).
Col. E.R. Kenney and E.W. Marland's well, the first west of Osage Reservation in Oklahoma, is brought in on land leased from the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch and the Ponca Indians (Clark 95).
The Hotel Tulsa opens at 3rd and Cincinnati and becomes the oilman's headquarters (Gregory 7). 
Tom Slick and C.B. Shaffer complete the Wheeler No. 1, twelve miles east of Cushing on property owned by Frank Wheeler, a stonemason (Knowles 123).
The U.S. Department of the Interior opens Osage Indian land for leasing and oil and gas development (Clark 101).
Robert McFarlin and James Chapman organize the McMan Oil Company (Tyson et al. 26)
Cosden and Company begin operating their West Tulsa refinery.
Healdton field opens (Clark 103).
The first recorded dual completion is on a well in Wicey Pool, OK (Clark 104).
Engineers of the newly-organized petroleum division of U.S. Bureau of Mines assigned to Cushing field to study drilling problems (Clark 104).
The first proration order issued by a state regulatory body is Order No. 813 by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. It relates to the Cushing field and, unlike later orders, it deals with oil to be taken by pipe line companies (Clark 106).
Oklahoma legislature passes act embodying, among others, three essential features: a definition of waste, the limitation of production from any common source of supply of oil, and a standard for the proration of the overall pool limitation among all the wells in the pool. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is empowered to enforce the act (Clark 109).
A comprehensive gas conservation act passes in Oklahoma. It is the first elaborate gas conservation measure to be enacted by any state (Clark 109).
The first proration order issued by a state regulatory body and applying directly and indirectly "to the production of oil and not to the marketing of the same" is Order No. 920 of the Corporation Commission of Oklahoma (Clark 109).
A tank car of "casinghead" gasoline explodes at Ardmore, killing 43 and injuring 500 (Clark 109).
Air repressuring in OK is first attempted in an old stripper well in Rogers County (Clark 110).
Harry Sinclair forms Service Pipe Line Company, originally named Sinclair-Cudahy Pipe Line Company, in Maine (Clark 111).
Sinclair opens the Garber field far in advance of production on the basis of geology (Clark 112).
Oklahoma A & M College offers a course in petroleum geology and Kendall College announces refining and marketing (Clark 113).
Frank Phillips forms the Phillips Petroleum Company with assets of three million dollars and twenty-seven employees (Gregory 24).  Waite Phillips purchases the Lou Robinson "graveyard" lease, one mile south of Okmulgee. All the wells come in (Wallis 144).
The American Association of Petroleum Geologists organizes as the Southwestern Association of Petroleum Geologists in Tulsa (Clark 114).
The Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association forms in Tulsa (Clark 115).
Dr. W.P. Haseman, head of the department of physics at the University of Oklahoma meets with J.C. Karcher at the National Bureau of Standards to discuss the possible use of reflection sound waves (seismic waves) to determine the location of oil field structures (Clark 116).
234 natural gasoline plants operate in OK (Clark 116).
Secondary recovery operations commence in Nowata County (Clark 117).
The first pipeline between Drumright and Chicago is built by Service Pipe Line Company (Clark 118).
The Skelly Oil Company is formed in October. Its headquarters are located on the corner of 4th and Boulder (Gregory 45).
The first Phillips station opens in Wichita, Kansas (Gregory 27).
1928 Marland loses control of Marland Oil Company to J.P. Morgan. Morgan merges Marland Oil with his small Colorado subsidiary, the Continental Oil Company (Gregory 40).
Over 800 oil companies have headquarters in Tulsa (Gregory 3).




waite phillips biography

Links to individual biographies are below. Many oil men were successful and influential in our state but may not be have a book dedicated to them individually. For these individuals, information might be found in compiled biographies or biographical encyclopedias. . The Daily Oklahoman Archives (see newspapers/periodicals tab) and the vertical files (see below) are two other good sources of biographical information.


One of the unique resources in the Research Center's Local History Collection is the extensive vertical file collection. Vertical files contain newspaper and magazine articles, brochures, reports, and ephemera for businesses, organizations, homes, buildings, events, and people in the area.


Newspaper articles, covering topics of local and regional interest, were selectively chosen from Tulsa’s major metropolitan dailies of the twentieth century and deposited in subject-based vertical files. This is the only major index in Tulsa for the Tulsa Tribune and for the Tulsa World issues prior to 1989.

The Tulsa World became available online in 1989. If you have a Tulsa World subscription, sign into your account online, choose "Obits," and you will see the archive search in the left-hand column. Choose the "advanced search" link to narrow your search in a variety of ways.  If you don't have a Tulsa World subscription, you can access the archives from the library's database, America's Newspapers. You can only access text in the database, not images, and you will need your library card.

Early Tulsa area newspapers such as Tulsa World and Tulsa Tribune are available on microfilm in the Research Center of Central Library. See the newspapers/periodicals tab for a list of titles and dates.
Vertical file titles can be searched in the online catalog. To limit your search to the vertical files in the new catalog, use advanced search. In the "use the form below to construct your query" section, use your keyword and the terms "vertical file." To limit your search to the vertical files in the old (legacy) catalog, use the advanced search. Enter your keyword in the "anywhere" field, and choose "vertical file" from the "material type" drop-down box.


oil and gas journal collection

Central Library houses a large collection of petroleum industry periodicals, including some historical company annual reports and publications. Below is a partial list of the periodicals with the longest runs. To see all the library's holdings, use the legacy catalog, choose the subject tab, and use the terms:
Petroleum industry and trade -- Periodicals
Petroleum industry and trade -- Directories


The Research Center in Central Library houses a large collection of geological and mineral maps. You'll find an index to the maps here.



Oklahoma Oil Historical Monuments