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Oil and Texas: A Cultural History

Powerful Essays
Oil and Texas: A Cultural History

"Soon the 4-inch drill pipe…shot skyward. After the mud, water, and pipe were blown out, gas followed, but only for a short time. Then the well was very quiet. We ventured back, after our wild scramble for safety, to find things in a terrible mess...We started shoveling the mud away-when, without warning, a lot of heavy mud shot out of the well with the report of a cannon…In a very short time oil was going up through the top of the derricks, and rocks were being shot hundreds of feet into the air. Within a very few minutes, the oil was holding a steady flow at more than twice the height of the derrick…”

—A. W. Hamill (one of the drillers at Spindletop) Houston Daily Post

Texas tea, black gold, crude, dinosaur wine, petroleum, motion lotion, motor spirits; these are just a few of the slang terms for that precious resource known as oil. If one were to ask a random person what three things come to mind when the word Texas is said, the common answers include cowboys, tumbleweeds, cattle, the Alamo, and oil. Texas is the leading crude-oil producer in the United States and of the 254 counties in the State, only 22 have never produced oil or gas and about 200 of the 254, still produce oil today (“State Energy Profiles: Texas" and “Working Texas”). In a time where there is a great demand for oil and prices are higher than ever, the US needs to look at alternative options for energy as well as implement ways to conserve the oil the nation has left.

On January 10th 110 years ago, oil shot 150 feet into the sky at Spindletop Hill in Southeast Texas and the state was flung into the petroleum and industrial age. Before that, Texas was mostly an agrarian state that produced a small amount of oil but not en...

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