Opening of the Mid-Continent Oil Field

          Kansas has long been oil country. There are legends that Indians held
council around the lights of burning springs. Emigrants, it is known,
skimmed "rock tar" from such oil seeps to grease the axles of their
wagons.

          A mile southeast is the site of one of the most famous oil wells in the
United States, Norman No. 1, first commercially successful well of the
Mid-Continent field. It was drilled in 1892 by W. M. Mills of
Pennsylvania. Within 22 days, at 832 feet, the hole began filling with
oil. Mills plugged it, reporting a poor well and began to drill another.
Then he hurried to Pittsburgh with samples. These so galvanized
operators Guffey and Galey that they leased a million acres, while
Norman No. 1 and its secret remained plugged for ten months. In the next
two years they drilled over 100 wells, then sold out to Standard Oil.

          Oil was first drilled in Kansas in 1860, near Paola, but the sinking of
Norman No. 1 began the continuous development of the Mid-Continent
field, the nation's largest, which spreads over Kansas, Oklahoma, and
Texas.

Erected by Kansas Historical Society & and State Highway Commission

Marker text sent by Robert Walter, Pittsburg, KS

Wilson County  
Neodesah City Park
West bank of Verdigris River
U.S. 75 (West Main Street)
Wilson County
 

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September 13, 2000 / Bob Walter / Wichita, Kansas / history@kslib.info

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