century of oil-driven energy was celebrated in early January
at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas, the site that essentially
marked the dawn of the age of petroleum.
Spindletop's centennial anniversary was marked
on Jan. 10 with thousands of participants who gathered at
the site for speeches, activities and a re-enactment of
the gusher that represents the oil industry's beginnings.
Speakers included former President George
H.W. Bush and AAPG member and legendary wildcatter Michel
T. Halbouty, who told the crowd that "the significance of
Spindletop cannot be overlooked -- it started the modern
Bush, also a veteran of the Texas oil industry,
said that today's public should "let future generations
know that the oil from this Texas soil helped transform
the American land of liberty into a beacon of freedom, hope
and, yes, opportunity to the world."
Centennial activities included a recreation
of the Spindletop gusher as it occurred 100 years earlier
-- to the minute.
A towering column of water spouted about
150 feet high from a replica 1901 derrick, misting those
in attendance. The scene included actors who were portraying
the original drillers.
"No production in the world had ever been
like that," Halbouty said of the original geyser. "Not Baku
(Russia), Pennsylvania or Corsicana (Texas). They were producing
50, 75, maybe 100 barrels a day. Spindletop came in at 100,000
"In one year the potential was for more oil
than had been produced up to that time."
The Jan. 10 anniversary was preceded by another
event marking the historic occasion -- a Houston Geological
Society field trip to the site, which also featured Halbouty,
who authored a book on Spindletop that was reprinted last
The HGS trip to Spindletop, held the weekend
before the centennial observation, attracted more than 350
participants as Halbouty retold, with enthusiasm and in
his own words, the story of the Spindletop discovery and
its importance in world history. Halbouty's appearance and
words were embraced and cheered by those in attendance.
"I believe there is a great need for explorers
to learn the legend and lore of exploration," said past
HGS president Charles Sternbach. "It was particularly satisfying
to see a strong showing of younger professionals alongside
some 'old hands' hanging on Halbouty's words."
Halbouty talked of the difficulties, ridicule
and hardships faced by the Spindletop discoverers, and suggested
that the best advice he could give today's explorationists
is not to give up in the face of adversity.
"If they could do it," Halbouty said of the
Spindletop discoverers, "why can't we?"