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A Great Texas Industry

(Galveston Daily News, March 17, 1901)

A Theory Is Advanced That The Oil Comes From a Huge Reservoir In The Earth--Written For The Engineering and Mining Journal by W.H. Phillips

The discovery of the flowing oil well near Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas, by A. F. Lucas on Jan. 10, 1901, has already passed into history. The news was telegraphed far and wide and received all the attention which could have been anticipated. Oil men from all over the country proceeded at once to Beaumont, and even at this time, the town is full of prospectors, sightseers, and would-be investors. It is difficult to secure accommodation in the town, and the overflow has been cared for at Port Arthur, 22 miles distant. A recent visit to the well and its surroundings gave an opportunity to observe on the spot just what the well was and what the circumstances are that prevail there at present. It is understood that Mr. Lucas will prepare for the Richmond meeting of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, Feb. 19, a statement covering such information as may be given out now, and I will not attempt to forestall what he may have to say. He is entitled to speak for himself, and certainly no one else knows as much about the matter as he does. The purpose of this article is of a general nature, while he will deal with particular facts.

It is nearly two years since he began drilling near Beaumont, about four miles a little east of south, on what is known as The Hills. This is the third hole he has down, but neither of the other two were drilled so deep as this one. The depth of the big well, which has kept Beaumont in a fever for two weeks, is about 1,300 feet. It has an eight-inch casing and the oil comes up through a six inch pipe. The great flow was struck on the morning of Jan. 10th, and continued without interruption until it was checked and the well closed on the 19th. It was certainly a wonderful sight. The column of oil rose into the air 150 feet, and continued spouting with regularity and sturdiness, vertically until the 14th when a "T" was secured to the pipe and the flow diverted horizontally. The flow was variously estimated from 6,000 to 20,000 barrels a day. Until the oil can be piped into a tank and the actual flow measured with accuracy, it can not be known just what it is. Enough is known, however, to warrant the assertion that the Lucas well is the greatest producer on record up to this time. The first photo shows the well on January 18; the second shows the base of the derrick, with Messrs. Lucas and Galey in front of it.

Opportunity has been freely afforded numerous persons to assert with confidence that the oil comes from a large reservoir in the earth; that it flows as a great stream from some undefined regions in the north, spouting out through the Lucas well near Beaumont, dipping underneath the Gulf of Mexico and reappearing as asphalt in Trinidad. Many illustrations of just how the thing is have appeared in the daily press, and the authors have the satisfaction of explaining everything in the happiest manner. All that can be stated now is that the Lucas well is a wonderful producer, that it was drilled to a depth of about 1,300 feet, and that the geological formation is the Tertiary, and possibly Neocene. As to further information, we must wait. Other wells will certainly be drilled in the district, and in course of time, we shall know more than we do now.

Jefferson County is a part of the great coastal plain of Texas which stretches inland from the Gulf for 100 miles or more with a general inclination seaward. The well is barren of trees and shrubs, a wide grassy expanse with a few inconsiderable elevations honored with the name of "hills." The surface soil is black and greasy, extremely fertile and well-adapted to the cultivation of rice. The lands are irrigated for rice culture, and there are numerous canals and pumping stations. On the eastern side of the country is the Neches River, a deep and tortuous stream, and navigable for 450 miles from Sabine Lake, into which it flows. The town of Beaumont is immediately on the river, and the Lucas well is about three miles from it in a straight line. Sabine Lake is a large and beautiful sheet of water, but the deepest soundings in it are not above eight feet, except near the southern end where the shipping channel enters and where the channel from the Gulf begins.....

It would appear, therefore, that the Beaumont well has been drilled in marine sedimentaries which it has not yet penetrated, and that the oil may be derived from marine organic remains and from such terrestrial organic remains as may have found their ay during Tertiary times into that part of the sea. Mr. Hill places the total thickness of the marine sedimentary rocks at about 25,000 feet. This, of course, does not mean that the oil-bearing portion of these rocks is of such a thickness. We shall have to await further developments before the exact thickness of the oil-bearing strata is ascertained, and to collect and digest data derived from the drilling of other wells in the coast plain.

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