Oil Boom Days - 1925

Articles to read: History of Development of General Geology of the Panhandle of Texas || Discovery of the Panhandle Oil and Gas Field

1925 marked one of Gray County's most important years. When oil was discovered that year, citizens of Gray County had no idea of the vast changes ahead. Pampa soon became home for many oil field hands, promoters, prospectors, and speculators. The third major economic resource had been added - the petroleum industry.

Charles N. Gould, a professor at the University of Oklahoma, discovered the Panhandle Field in 1904 while making a survey of lands along the Canadian River. Gould, under the direction of the U.S. Geological Survey, was to map streams, springs, and underground water for the purpose of locating feasible reservoir sites.

In l916 M.C. Nobles, a wholesale grocer of Amarillo, and T.J. Moore, a traveling salesman for Nobles, consulted with Gould about the possibility of oil in the Texas Panhandle. They employed Gould to return with them to the Panhandle to examine the structure.

The Amarillo Oil Co. was then formed in 1917 after favorable reports were given by both Gould and Robert S. Dewey. A 70,000 acre lease was obtained, being primarily located on the R.B. Masterson and Lee Bivins ranches in Potter County. After a year and two months the first well in the Texas Panhandle, the Hapgood, was completed at a cost of $70,000. The Hapgood with a total depth of 2,605 feet produced 15,000,000 cubic feet of gas per day.

The Burnett No. 2 located on the 6666 Ranch in Carson County was the first oil well drilled in the Panhandle field. Gulf Production Co. drilled the Burnett No. 2 in April, l921, in Section 106, Block 5, I&GN Survey. Its initial production totalled 175 barrels of oil per day. Col. Burk Burnett owned the ranch comprised of 107,520 acres which was located in Carson and Hutchinson counties. The ranch had been purchased from George Tyng of White Deer Lands in 1903 for $2.65 an acre ($284,928.00 total) to satisfy the English bondholders. The money was paid to the New York and Texas Land Co., Ltd., holders of the first lien on the land. If the land had been retained by the White Deer Land Co., it would have brought a fortune to the bondholders.

Gray County citizens then became excited. Pampans built a road to the well with a cultivator that made two furrows, just wide enough for car wheels. The town leaders wanted Pampans to become acquainted with the oil officials and to interest them in coming to Pampa.

When drilling operations were resumed on the Stone Tipton No. 1 McConnell in Carson County both Pampa and White Deer wanted credit for the well. Pampans measured the distance between the towns and the well's location. They were delighted to find that Pampa was actually closer by three-quarters of a mile. A congregation of Pampa citizens led by Ivy Duncan went to see the well and invited the citizens of White Deer to visit "Pampa's Well."

The Stone Tipton No. 1 McConnell was only a gas well, and since gas brought only 1/2 cent per thousand cubic feet it had very little value at that time. Interest declined, and the well was eventually capped and remained shut in for a dozen years. Oil was later discovered only 40' below the original depth. Had it been discovered originally it would have initiated the oil boom at Pampa instead of Borger, where oil was discovered a year after the Pampa well was capped.

The F. Wilcox No. 1 Worley-Reynolds was Gray County's first oil well. It was located five miles south of Pampa on the Worley-Reynolds Ranch which was formerly a part of White Deer Lands. The well was drilled by Farris, Watts, Collins, and Crosby and was completed on January 31, l925, and is still producing today. Farris later became president of Humble Oil and Refining Co.

The discovery of oil in Gray County had a very definite impact upon the heretofore peaceful life of the ranchmen near the present town of Lefors. Clifton Vincent who was ranching south of Lefors in the late 1920's recalled, "There was one time that nearly every pumper and fellow living in town had a German police dog. They were good dogs for protection, and Lefors was pretty rough during the oil boom, but they got to killing and chewing up calves and yearlings."

The widespread development in the Panhandle field in 1926 instigated the organization of 110 separate corporations with a combined capital of $15,000,000. These companies were organized in order to develop leases. T.D. Hobart, White Deer Lands manager, wrote of Pampa on February 26, l926, that there was "quite a little stir..." On August 2, l926, he wrote that "excitement is still running high here (Pampa). The town is growing by leaps and bounds, and if most of the locations for oil wells already made should prove a success there is no telling what lengths it will go." August 13, "everything is in a whirl and bustle here now, laying off additions to the town in every direction; in fact everything almost is being changed." August 21 he mentioned that "we are having a great boom at this place owing to the discovery of oil near here."

Towns grew rapidly in 1926. Jobs were plentiful and everyone worked. Building permits in Pampa for April, l926. were $92,680 and then leaped to $65,000 for the first half of June. Bank deposits reached a total of $1,600,000 in July. Pampa school enrollment climbed to 1,016 over 1925 when there were only 506. Postal receipts for the fourth quarter totalled $127,671.45.

Gray County's first pipe line was laid in 1926 to Wichita Falls, Fort Worth, and Dallas, and to Kansas City, Denver, and Enid, Oklahoma. In June, l931, the Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Co. completed a 22" line to a point near Indianapolis, Indiana. This line connected with lines distributing gas to towns in eastern states. In l932 the Texhoma Natural Gas Co. finished its 24" line to Chicago and other Illinois points. By l938 there were nine gas lines in the Panhandle field.

The oil industry continued to boom in l929 and l930. Besides the Combs-Worley leases, the Davidson, Jackson, Mel David, Bull, and Bowers were listed among those most productive. Pampa grew more in proportion than any other town in the county. Leases were selling anywhere from one to five dollars an acre. After rotary drilling was introduced to the Panhandle, the average time to drill a 3,000 foot well was 20 days. Today the same depth well takes approximately four to five days.

Several of the oil wells of particular interest in the Gray County oil development include the Taconian No. 1 Sullivan drilled two miles southwest of Pampa by independent producers. The well was completed in l930 for 20,000 barrels of oil per day. The 40-acre oil lease sold a few years later for $800,000.

One of the most expensive leases was purchased by Phillips Petroleum Company when it paid $1 million for the north half of Section 88, Block B-2 located ten miles southeast of Pampa. They later bought the south half of the same section for $1.2 million.

A record producer is Texas Company's No. 1 Bowers, eight miles southeast of Pampa. This well produced more than two million barrels of crude by 1952.

History of Development of General Geology of the Panhandle Field of Texas
History of Development, Page 2

Discovery of the Panhandle Oil and Gas Field

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Last Update: 05/14/97