Birth of the Modern Oil Industry

Oil drilling in the salt dome under Spindletop Hill near Beaumont was unsuccessful until the Lucas geyser came in on January 10, 1901. Named for Anthony F. Lucas, an expert on salt dome formations and a partner in the drilling effort, the gusher spewed oil from a depth of 1,139 feet to over 100 feet into the air. An unprecedented sight, it took nine days to control the well that produced an estimated 100,000 barrels a day. Oilmen, speculators and onlookers flocked to the area, fueling wild land speculation and making Beaumont one of the nation's first oil boomtowns overnight. Spindletop oil production dropped dramatically after 1902, but a second and even larger boom occurred from 1925-1927. The discovery of the Spindletop oil field spurred oil and natural gas exploration which provided cheap fuel that revolutionized U.S. transportation and industry. The Lucas Geyser March Song (1901) commemorated the oil discovery that marked the birth of the modern petroleum industry.

Jenkins Garrett Collection, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington