This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
January 10 is the 10th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 355 days remaining until the end of the year (356 in leap years).
On this day in 1901, a gusher signals start of U.S. oil industry
A drilling derrick at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas, produces an enormous gusher of crude oil, coating the landscape for hundreds of feet and signaling the advent of the American oil industry. The geyser was discovered at a depth of over 1,000 feet, flowed at an initial rate of approximately 100,000 barrels a day and took nine days to cap. Following the discovery, petroleum, which until that time had been used in the U.S. primarily as a lubricant and in kerosene for lamps, would become the main fuel source for new inventions such as cars and airplanes; coal-powered forms of transportation including ships and trains would also convert to the liquid fuel.
Crude oil, which became the world’s first trillion-dollar industry, is a natural mix of hundreds of different hydrocarbon compounds trapped in underground rock. The hydrocarbons were formed millions of years ago when tiny aquatic plants and animals died and settled on the bottoms of ancient waterways, creating a thick layer of organic material. Sediment later covered this material, putting heat and pressure on it and transforming it into the petroleum that comes out of the ground today.
There had long been suspicions that oil might be under [“Spindletop Hill.” The area was known for its sulfur springs and bubbling gas seepages that would ignite if lit. In August 1892, George W. O’Brien, George W. Carroll, Pattillo Higgins and others formed the Gladys City Oil, Gas, and Manufacturing Company to do exploratory drilling on Spindletop Hill. The company drilled many dry holes and ran into trouble, as investors began to balk at pouring more money into drilling with no oil to show for it.
Pattillo Higgins left the company and teamed with Captain Anthony F. Lucas, the leading expert in the U.S. on salt dome formations. Lucas made a lease agreement in 1899 with the Gladys City Company and a later agreement with Higgins. Lucas drilled to 575 feet (180 m) before running out of money. He secured additional funding from John H. Galey and James M. Guffey of Pittsburgh, but the deal left Lucas with only a small share of the lease and Higgins with nothing.
Lucas continued drilling and on January 10, 1901, at a depth of 1,139 ft (347 m), what is known as the Lucas Gusher or the Lucas Geyser blew oil over 150 feet (50 m) in the air at a rate of 100,000 barrels per day (16,000 m3/d)(4,200,000 gallons). It took nine days before the well was brought under control. Spindletop was the largest gusher the world had seen and catapulted Beaumont into an oil-fueled boomtown. Beaumont’s population of 10,000 tripled in three months and eventually rose to 50,000. Speculation led land prices to increase rapidly. By the end of 1902, over 500 companies were formed and 285 active wells were in operation.
Production began to decline rapidly after 1902, and the wells produced only 10,000 barrels per day (1,600 m3/d) by 1904. On November 14, 1925, the Yount-Lee Oil Company brought in its McFaddin No. 2 at a depth of about 2,500 feet (800 m), sparking a second boom, which culminated in the field’s peak production year of 1927, during which 21,000,000 barrels (3.3 GL) were produced. Over the ten years following the McFaddin discovery, over 72,000,000 barrels (11.4 GL) of oil were produced, mostly from the newer areas of the field. Spindletop continued as a productive source of oil until about 1936. It was then mined for sulfur from the 1950s to about 1975.
America’s first documented oil spill
49 BC – Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon, signaling the start of civil war.
69 – Lucius Calpurnius Piso Licinianus is appointed by Galba to deputy Roman Emperor.
236 – Pope Fabian succeeds Anterus as the twentieth pope of Rome.
1072 – Robert Guiscard conquers Palermo.
1475 – Stephen III of Moldavia defeats the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Vaslui.
1645 – Archbishop William Laud is beheaded at the Tower of London.
1776 – Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense.
1806 – Dutch settlers in Cape Town surrender to the British.
1810 – Napoleon divorces his first wife Josephine.
1861 – American Civil War: Florida secedes from the Union.
1863 – The London Underground, the world’s oldest underground railway, opens between London Paddington station and Farringdon station.
1870 – John D. Rockefeller incorporates Standard Oil.
1901 – The first great Texas oil gusher is discovered at Spindletop in Beaumont, Texas.
1916 – Erzerum Offensive during World War I, Russian victory over Ottoman Empire.
1920 – The Treaty of Versailles takes effect, officially ending World War I.
1922 – Arthur Griffith is elected President of the Irish Free State.
1923 – Lithuania seizes and annexes Memel.
1941 – World War II: The Greek army captures Kleisoura.
1946 – The first General Assembly of the United Nations opens in London. Fifty-one nations are represented.
1946 – The United States Army Signal Corps successfully conducts Project Diana, bouncing radio waves off the moon and receiving the reflected signals.
1962 – Apollo Project: NASA announces plans to build the C-5 rocket booster. It became better known as the Saturn V moon rocket, which launched every Apollo moon mission.
1972 – Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returns to the newly independent Bangladesh as president after spending over nine months in prison in Pakistan.
1981 – Salvadoran Civil War: The FMLN launches its first major offensive, gaining control of most of Morazan and Chalatenango departments
1984 – The United States and the Vatican establish full diplomatic relations after 117 years.
1990 – Time Warner is formed from the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications Inc.
1999 – Sanjeev Nanda killed three policemen in New Delhi with his car, an act for which he was later acquitted, resulting in a sharp drop in public confidence in the Indian legal system.
2001 – A large piece of the chalk cliff at Beachy Head collapses into the sea.
2003 – Illinois Governor George Ryan commutes the death sentences of 167 prisoners on Illinois’ death row based on the Jon Burge scandal.
2005 – A mudslide occurs in La Conchita, California, killing 10 people, injuring many more and closing the Highway 101, the main coastal corridor between San Francisco and Los Angeles, for 10 days.
2010 – Somali Civil War: Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a forces attack and initially capture East Beledweyne which was being held by the Hizbul Islam insurgent group, before being beaten back.
Christian Feast Day:
Obadiah (Coptic Church)
Traditional Day (Benin