Oil.In Kansas oil was first discovered on Wea creek, Miami county, in 1855. This substance, first known as "rock tar," occurred in many places, coming to the surface through the crevices of the rocks and porous soils. A company was formed in the latter '50s for the purpose of exploring the field, obtained leases on 30,000 acres of land in the immediate vicinity and did some boring. Civil war breaking out soon after, work was discontinued and for various reasons never resumed. During the '60s and for many years afterwards this oil was gathered and sold for lubricating purposes, bringing from $3 to $5 a barrel. From 1870 to 1890 considerable prospecting for both oil and gas was done in this section of the state, Paola being the center of activity. Prior to 1890, however, no discoveries had been made tending to show the magnitude of the Kansas oil field, but from that time on there was a period of great development in the "Mid-Continent" oil field, which includes Kansas and Oklahoma, the production increasing from 500 barrels in 1889 to 1,200 barrels in 1890, and to 44,467 barrels in 1895. Much of this oil was shipped out of the state and some stored, but the production increased so rapidly that both producers and consumers were powerless to cope with existing conditions. The Standard Oil company about this time erected a refinery at Neodesha and was at work on a pipe line extending from the Kansas field to Whiting, Ind. Several independent refineries were built and operated, but the bulk of the oil was taken over by the Standard. The Forest Oil company and the Prairie Oil and Gas company, subsidiaries of the Standard and both powerful corporations, entered the Kansas field, stimulating prosspecting[sic] which resulted in the discovery of many new producing wells. The output since 1895 has been almost phenomenal, increasing from 81,186 barrels in 1900 to 12,013,495 barrels in 1905 and to 50,741,678 barrels in 1908, valued at $21,311,504.76. In 1903 oil brought $1.10 a barrel, the highest price paid in this field, but dropped to 40 cents, the lowest quotation, in 1907.
In 1905 the Chautauqua County Oil Producers' association was formed with H. E. West as president. This organization called a meeting at Topeka on Jan. 19, 1905, to discuss the prospects of the oil industry in the state. A special train engaged to take the members of the association to Topeka was crowded. The officers elected at that meeting were H. E. West, president; J. O. Fife, vice-president; J. M. Parker, secretary and treasurer. Headquarters were maintained in Topeka during the session of the legislature and the association was instrumental in securing the passage of acts providing for the release from record of oil, gas and other mineral leases; to provide for the construction and operation of an oil refinery by the state as a branch of the state penitentiary and making an appropriation therefor, but this law was later declared unconstitutional by the supreme court and the refinery was never built. (See Hoch's Administration.) This legislature also passed a law relating to the transportation of oil by means of pipe lines and placing them under the general supervision and control of the State Board of Railroad Commissioners.
A KANSAS OIL WELL
The legislature of 1881 had enacted a law providing for a state inspector of oils and an assistant, stipulating that all expenses of the office be paid out of the fees collected for the inspection of oils. In 1891 the legislature passed another law, which provided for the casing of all oil and gas wells and the mode of plugging them when they were abandoned.Pages 384-385 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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