Whether we like it or not, oil is a major part of our city’s culture, history, and genetic makeup. January 10th is the 119th anniversary of the Lucas Gusher, which blessed Beaumont with black-gold, changed the petroleum industry forever, and put the Golden Triangle on the map. Here’s how to take a moment to pay homage to our past, celebrate our riches, and relive the glory days.
Attend the Anniversary Party
The Spindletop Gladys City/Boomtown Museum at Lamar University will host the official anniversary party on Saturday, January 11. The day will be full of entertainment, food, and games. The Drillers Reunion will feature blacksmith classes, tea time with the Ladies Temperance Union, a showdown from the Big Thicket Outlaws, and more. If you can’t make it to the party, you can also catch a reenactment of the famous gusher later in the month on 1/17 or 1/22.
Refresh Yourself on the History
The “Lucas Gusher” produced more oil in one day than the rest of the world’s oilfields combined, which was a pretty big deal for both Texas’s economy and the US. After years of unsuccessfully trying to penetrate the salt domes of the Gulf Coast, Anthony F. Lucas,
Curt Hamill, Pattillo Higgins, and a few other crucial team members just had a hunch to keep going. Their gut was right and when they finally struck (black) gold, a stream over 100 feet spouted out.
It was capped nine days later and flowed an estimated 100,000 barrels a day. The oilfield produced 3.59 million barrels its first year and an incredible 17.4 million barrels the next. Hoping to replicate its success, by 1902, the American Oil & Gas Historical Society recounts there were more than 500 corporations doing business in Beaumont which created new technologies for drilling, effectively launching the modern-day petroleum industry as we know it.
Watch the Movie
Spindletop inspired several books and even cookbooks from those wanting to tell the tale of Southeast Texas’s success. Some are dramatic novels, some are true to life, and others fall somewhere in the middle with their own creative accounts of the unfolding story. A few great resources to check out include Spindletop, a well written historical account, Giant Under the Hill: A History of the Spindletop Oil Discovery at Beaumont, Texas, in 1901, an engaging recollection of the colorful characters involved as told by local historians, and Spindletop Boom Days (Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series), a first-person narrative of day-to-day life on the frontier.