It was 5 a.m.
on Nov. 22, 1905, and partners Robert Galbreath and Frank Chesley
had been alternating shifts on the floor of a cable tool drilling
rig in the Oklahoma Creek Indian Reservation.
before, they had made the irrational decision to drill a little
bit deeper into the unknown.
they were drilling was named the Ida E. Glenn No. 1, after the Creek
Indian woman who owned the land on the banks of a creek 10 miles
south of an unimpressive, small town on the Frisco railroad and
Arkansas River by the name of Tulsa.
already had drilled through the deepest known oil-producing reservoir
in the area, the Red Fork Sand, at about 1,400 feet with a slight
show of gas. They were out of money and they should have stopped
oil discoveries had been found earlier in the Tulsa area and to
the north near Bartlesville. Those discoveries were just enough
to raise some excitement -- and attract Ohioan Galbreath to come
to Oklahoma four years before in search of wealth. But so far, there
was no luck for Galbreath and Chesley.
using only surface casing. The well was not taking water and was
not sluffing. The boilers were being fed by coal dug off a nearby
just changed shifts with Bob who went to bed -- on the rig, where
they were living. A couple of feet below the Red Fork Sand, the
bit pierced a previously-unknown sandstone in that area, the Bartlesville
Sand. Frank noticed a stain on the bit and ran a bailer that came
up with oil.
up Bob saying "Oil! Oil! My God, Bob. We got an oil well!"
started to make gurgling noises and then blew in over the derrick
with a "gusher" flowing 75 bbls of oil per day. It was Oklahoma's
first major oil field and the richest field the world had yet seen.
the thick, sour oil from Spindletop, the famed 1901 Texas discovery
that had already played out, this oil was light and sweet -- just
right to refine into gasoline and kerosene. The reservoir was shallow,
less than 1,500 feet deep, well within the range of the cable tool
drilling rigs of that day.
field covered a large area that was soon well defined after drilling
just a couple of dry holes.
brought hordes of boom followers: lease buyers, producers, tool
suppliers, laborers, millionaires and newsmen. The news reached
oil boom was on.
went from practically penniless to millionaire. He hired shotgun-toting
guards to keep interlopers a mile from his claim. As one story goes,
he drilled only one dry hole in the Glenn Pool and only 2 percent
of the Glenn Pool Field wells were dry holes.
from the older and then-developed oil fields of Illinois and Pennsylvania
rushed into the booming area. Many young men such as Harry Sinclair
and J. Paul Getty learned the business and made their first millions
in the Glenn Pool. Another included Thomas Gilcrease, who founded
Tulsa's famed museum that carries his name.
of the largest fields in Oklahoma history, it would produce 325.5
million barrels of crude by 1986. Royalties of almost a million
dollars a year were being paid to some Creek Indians who held 160-acre
allotments in the field.
It is said
that more money was made on the Glenn Pool oil field than the California
gold rush and Colorado silver rush combined.
two years, pipelines had been built from the Texaco and Gulf refineries
on the Gulf Coast and down from the Standard Oil refinery in Whiting,
Ind., to access the high-quality crude. Numerous other refineries
were built in the Glenn Pool area.
became a state in 1907, and during that year Oklahoma produced more
oil than any other state in the United States and any other country
in the world. The small, railroad stop town of Tulsa had become
the undisputed "Oil Capital of the World." It remains the headquarters
of AAPG, founded in 1917.
no apparent geological reason on the surface of the Glenn Pool to
drill a well where Bob and Frank drilled. But they did, and they
forever changed the American oil industry. The Glenn Pool is now
under waterflood and producing primarily from stripper wells. The
Glenn No. 1 was plugged and abandoned in 1964 and the major oil
companies have gone from Tulsa. But large tank farms still decorate
the adjacent area.
marks the 100th anniversary of the Ida E. Glenn discovery, and the
cities of Glenpool and Tulsa will be celebrating this great event.
celebration is being planned along with the publishing of a book
on the history of the field and a video is being prepared and will
be provided to junior and senior high school and public libraries
in Oklahoma. Check www.glennpoolcentennial.com as other activities