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#239 :: Stereopticon view – oil fields

October 4, 2004

This image of manifest destiny seems appropriate, as we consider ending the tenure of the most rapacious, wilfull and heedless administration this nation has ever known. This stereopticon card is another (see earlier) in my small collection of early 20th-century Keystone views of industry and nature.


Petroleum, sometimes called mineral oil or rock oil, has long been known in various parts of the world. The first mention of it in America was made in 1635 by a missionary who refers to springs found in the region that is now southwestern New York and northwestern Pennsylvania. In 1901 oil was discovered in the Beaumont district, in Texas. The fist well put down in the field yielded seventy-five thousand barrels of oil in a day. The liquid spouted in a column 160 feet high and continued flowing for nine day.

In drilling wells the most common outfit is known as the derrick. The derrick is about twenty feet square at the base and from seventy to one hundred feet high. It is built of either timber or steel. This picture shows a regular forest of these derricks in the oil fields of Texas, on the banks of Goose Creek. One such field has produced a million barrels of oil from two acres, but with so many wells the average amount for each well is less than where the wells are more scattering (sic).

Once an engine for pumping was a part of the equipment of each well. Now the more economical plan is followed of having a central pumping station for ten or more wells. When started, the gasoline engine will continue the work; and one may pass a long distance among wells without seeing a single person though on all sides is heard the creak of machinery magicallly bringing hidden wealth to the surface.

We still have seventy barrels left for each individual, but we have used an alarming proportion, and America must in a few years, at this rate, depend upon foreign fields.

Even then, they knew. Even then.

Filed under: Artifact | Comments (2)


  1. Alison Scott October 5, 2004 @ 1:56 am

    I know that you have a standard format for the ‘larger’ versions of your heavy little objects pictures — but it would be nice if you could reproduce the entire stereo pair rather than just one image. (They can be freeviewed, or viewed with a Pokescope).

  2. mack October 5, 2004 @ 1:13 am

    Ahh, would that I had time to do stereo pairs. Alas, I barely have time for HLO and my other projects as it is (you notice I sometimes get behind, and have to knock out two or three objects at a time). Mebbe I’ll try this on the next stero card I post – it’ll be a ways down the road.

    Thanks for the tip on Pokescope, though. That’s a nifty looking device, and an HLO in its own right.