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Texas' Oil Future

(Galveston Daily News, January 23, 1901)

Beaumont, Texas, Jan. 22---Man Who Has Studied Industrial Development Talks of Big Find at Beaumont--A Long, Strong Pull--And Hearty Coopertion is Necessary to Develop and Get The Best Results--Some Problems Presented---One of Which Is Creating a Market For The Product--Contract For A Large Building.

The weather today has been as pleasant as could be desired and as a result, men have had an opportunity to get into the country and see oil lands. Very little that is new has developed today.

It is now definitely announced that Mr. V. (Valentine) Wiess, one of the owners of the property upon which the Lucas well is located, will build a handsome five-story building at the corners of Bonham and Pearl Streets to cost about $50,000. The building will be built exclusively for office purposes, and will be modern throughout, fitted with steam heat, elevators, and such like conveniences. It is also probable that one floor will be devoted to a rice, lumber, and coal exchange, with rooms for the Chamber of Commerce and other kindred institutions.

About the best that has been said of the Beaumont oil strike and the situation, present and future, was given out today by Mr. Albert Phenis, southern representative of the Manufacturer's Record of Baltimore, who has been here for several days sifting the sitution thoroughly. Mr. Phenis is identified with the industrial development of the South and his views are not influenced by surface excitement, but are the result of deep research.

"While conservative people agree," said Mr. Phenis, "that it is too early yet to define and limit the exact meaning of the great strike, it seems altogether likely that its importance will become greater as the situation develops. Even old oil operators themselves appear to be somewhat dazed at the present time, and where their interests do not prompt them to arrive at early conclusions, they are very reticent as to their 'size-up' of the situation. Until there has been a complete demonstration of the character and quality of the oil from the Lucas geyser, it is impossible for anyone to tell what the future of the Beaumont field is to be. And until there has been a number of other wells sunk, it is also impossible to determine what figure this field will cut in the industrial and commercial world. However, there is a preponderance of present testimony to the effect that the Lucas oil is better adapted for fuel purposes then for refining. Should this fact be demonstrated by the thorough analysis of the oil, which is now being made, as it is understood, and should the additional wells doubtless be sunk in the near future produce oil of the same quality, and in large quantities, there is not one who can accurately foretell what the outcome will be."

"The man who might be regarded as visionary is more likely to conceive of all that it will mean to Beaumont, to Texas, and to the industrial world than is the conservative, cautious man of affairs. There are no precise precedents as guides, and the wise ones are mainly standing around awaiting developments. No such enormous flow of a similar quantity of oil has ever been encountered, and it is not yet determined that a greater gusher than the Lucas has ever been known before."

"Texas is almost as much an unexplored region when it comes to a knowledge of her oil resources as was Pennsylvania in the early 1860's. Should it be demonstrated, as seems probable, that the wells here have staying qualities, and there are vast stores of fuel oil in this field, it is evident that the wheels of commerce are confronted with a discovery which means nothing short of a revolution in fuel. Texas petroleum would be the fuel used by railroads, steamships, and factories, for it can be sold at a price which makes it cheaper than coal. It takes up less room. It can be handled at so much less cost at the furnaces, and its consumption is so complete that the hideous, unhealthful, and destructive clouds of smoke which now hang over our big factory towns would disappear. Of course, there are many practical questions to be settled yet. The oil must be produced in great quantities, and there must be a considerable amount of it stored above ground before large contracts for its use can be entered into. To some extent, there are pioneer features in the situation, although California and Indiana oils have demonstrated the feasibilityof fuel petroleum. But, nevertheless, it will be necessary to create a market for the Beaumont product, should the production be anywhere as large as now seems likely."

"As to the effect on Beaumont and Texas generally, it would seem that cooperation and effort by the people of Texas would bring marvelous results. Beaumont will not be made a great city against its will, and it will take more than the discovery of any crude material to make a great manufacturing city anywhere. It takes a long, strong pull, and a pull altogether to do big things. Strangers who come with the legitimate purpose of doing development work should, it seems to me, be given encouragement. There are many ways in which the people now here can be made sharers in the prosperity which will come from a big development of all the rich resources of the great state of Texas, and there ought to be such a pull together all along the line of industrial effort as will make this one of the busiest hives of industry in all the Southland." (compiled by W. T. Block)

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