Giant Under the Hill: History of the Spindletop Oil Discovery at Beaumont, Texas, in 1901

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Texas State Historical Association, 2002 - Business & Economics - 304 pages
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How did they do it? How did a profligate who killed a deputy sheriff before reforming, a mining engineer who went AWOL from the Austrian Navy, and three East Texas drillers join forces with other equally colorful characters to drill on Spindletop hill? Giant Under the Hill is a scholarly work firmly rooted in the narrative tradition, a great story intriguingly told by three Beaumont historians: Jo Ann Stiles, Ellen Rienstra, and Judith Linsley. Using material collected over decades, much of it never before published, they bring to life the efforts of Pattillo Higgins, Anthony Lucas, Al and Curt Hamill, and Peck Byrd to master the Spindletop salt dome that culminated in the discovery of the great Lucas gusher. Their find subsequently transformed not only the state of Texas but the entire oil industry. Giant Under the Hill is the definitive story of one of the most significant and colorful moments in Texas history. The authors delved deeply into available records and found treasures at every turn. As news of their work spread, people came forward from all over the country with even more photographs and documents. This exhaustively researched book focuses on the Lucas gusher in Beaumont in 1901, as well as the events leading up to it and the immediate aftermath. It's all here -- the challenge and frustration of the search, the excitement of the discovery, the euphoric chaos of the boom, and the genesis of the giant companies. After the gusher came in, life would never be the same.

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I am reading the book because I am planning a field trip to Gladys City Boomtown for a group of geologists. What a great read. The story of Spindletop is a story of the beginning of oil wealth in Texas. This book details how this miraculus event occured that changes Beaumont, Texas, and the industrial United States. It is a story I never get tired of reading as I grew up in the area and live in Houston, the energy capital of the world. Kudos to Judith Linsley, Ellen Rienstra, and Dr. JoAnn Stiles for writing such a scholarly book about the events around the discovery of Spindletop. I hear that a group of geologists are going to drill a deep well there. Who knows, Spindletop may gush again. Butt the discovery that happened in 1901 was phenominal and had such a far reaching impact on the oil industry and indeed the history of Texas. It changed everything. That is one of the things that makes the story so facinating. 


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