On January 10, 1901 drillers struck oil just south of Beaumont, TX. The discovery at Spindletop Oilfield marked the birth of the modern petroleum industry and made Texas one of the most prosperous states in the Union.
Three shallow drilling attempts over the previous six years had been costly failures, but Anthony Lucas and Pattillo Higgins believed there was oil beneath the salt dome. In October 1900, they spudded a new well. On January 10th mud began to bubble up, and startled roughnecks fled as the 4″ drilling pipe, weighing more than 6 tons, came shooting out of the hole! There were a few quiet minutes before the Lucas geyser, 1139 feet below the surface, spewed a fountain of oil over 100 feet into the sky. Spindletop continued to gush 100,ooo barrels a day for nine days until the well was capped.
The population of Beaumont doubled and then doubled again almost overnight. Petroleum companies such as Texaco, Magnolia, and Exxon sprang to prosperity and power. This discovery marked the birth of modern transportation, and even the production of plastic products. Though this day is little remembered, the discovery of abundant, affordable oil in Texas changed the world.