January 10, 1901
On the Pipeline – 116 years ago a gusher at Spindletop signaled the beginning of the modern U.S. oil industry.
A well at the oil field known as Spindletop near Beaumont, Texas struck oil. This gusher “blew for nine days at a rate estimated at 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of oil per day” and is credited with signaling the beginning of the modern U.S. oil industry. “A new age was born. The world had never seen such a gusher before. By September 1901, there were at least six successful wells on Gladys City Company lands. Wild speculation drove land prices around Spindletop to incredible heights. One man who had been trying to sell his tract there for $150 for three years sold his land for $20,000; the buyer promptly sold to another investor within fifteen minutes for $50,000. One well, representing an initial investment of under $10,000, was sold for $1,250,000. Beaumont’s population rose from 10,000 to 50,000. Legal entanglements and multimillion-dollar deals became almost commonplace. An estimated $235 million had been invested in oil that year in Texas; while some had made fortunes, others lost everything.”