Oil Fever
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Oil Fever Epidemic

(Galveston Daily News, February 1, 1901)

Galveston, Tex., Jan. 31--It Is Believed That Galveston Island Covers A Large Oil Well--May Soon Be Boring--Story Recalled of Oily Waters Found on The Island Years Ago--High Island Oil and Gas.

Galvestonians are interested in oil now as they never were before. Oil Every corner, and in many offices people gather and oil is the topic of conversation. Ever since the big strike at Beaumont the attention of the business men and the speculators who have a few dollars to invest is directed to oil, and everybody is seeking a favorable chance for investment. While there are a number ofGalvestonians who have made a personal investigation of the Beaumont Oil Field, and some few who have interested themselves in oil companies inthat locality, there are others who believ there isoil in abundance nearer Galveston than the Beaumont Oil Field.

At High Island, under the terms of the lease filed in the County Clerk's office, prospecting for oil, natural gas, and mineral waters is to be commenced just as soon as the necessary rigs can be shipped to that point. A gas well at that place yields a fairly good supply, and is responsible for further experiments to be made in that locality.

Galvestonians are also interested in the prospecting at High Island, and have leased land there to A. F. Lucas. In the event of a strike, they are to receive 10 percent of the net yields. There are some Galvestonians who think that there is oil underlying the territory of Galveston Island, and so strong is this belief that it was reported yesterday that a company to prospect in this direction is soon to be organized. Just where the prospecting is to be commenced could not be learned. The promoters of the new company prefer to keep that matter a secret until the actual prospecting is underway.

The proposed prospecting for oil in Galveston recalls to mind the digging of several artesian wells in this city several years ago in a effort to secure water for drinking purposes. Some of the wells were sunk to a depth of 800 feet, and while the water supply for drinking purposes was unsatisfactory it is said by some who watched the digging of the wells closely that the experiment was not wholly without profit, now that the proposed boring for oil on the island is under discussion.

At the time of the boring of these wells, while oil was not encountered in quantitly large enough to be noticed, it is said by those interested in the oil development of the island, that in the (well) water were traces of a greasy substance that they arenow confident was oil. At the time it made noimpression on those who were digging, not even on those who were watching developments, for the reason that water, fresh water, was wanted worse than anything else at the time, and no oil discovery was an after consideration. Then again, people who wer engaged in the digging did not think there was oil within 1,000 miles of the place.

But it will be different when the prospectors for oil begin the work on the island. Every development will be closely watched and the slightest trace of the fluid will not be allowed to flow unnoticed. Galvestonians, or rather those who are interested in the proposed experimenting for oil on the island, have every reason to believe they will be successful in their efforts.

High Island, situated on the mainland 32 miles northeast of Galveston, is attralcting considerable attention as a prospective oil and gas producing region. The place takes its name from the fact that the knoll or mound is 50 feet above sea level and unusually high for this section of the coast country. Men who interested in lands in and around High Island, which is a high mound surrounded by marshes, claim that the mound is the result of internal force, gaseous lower perhaps than the oil basin, and that experiments for gas and water a few years ago forceably demonstrated the power of the gas entombed in the locality. It is reported that while digging, or rather boring for an artesian well, or any profitable fluid that might be found a few years ago, the drill was suddenly shot out of the ground and high into the air. The drill had reached a depth of 200 feet. At that time it was declared to be the power of the cooped-up gas that sent the drill skyward, and no doubt that theory is correct. However experiments have been quite limited, and while the ground, already bored to a depth of less than 50 feet, seems to be loaded with numerous kinds of mineral water of various degrees and tastes, no well has been sunk to a depth of 1,000 feet or anywhere near that depth. Natural gas has been discovered at a depth of less than 20 feet, and while the supply has been utilized to a limited extent by mr. George Smith, the gas well has not been fully developed.

Mr. Fred Oppikofer, assistant United States engineer, who owns 32 acres of land at High Island, is quite hopeful that oil will be found there in abundance if properly handled. To a News reporter yesterday, Mr. Oppikofer said that the mound is unnatural, and that in his opinion after investigation that the earth's surface at that point was forced up in the mount formation by internal trouble arising from a gas well and oil beneath the gas. He bought 32 acres of land near thetop of the mound and the leased ground reported in the News does not include this property. Mr. Oppikofer says that if it is discovered that there is oil in the mound, he will probably organize a company and bore on his own land.

"It is my candid opinion that this is oil beneath the surface on High Island," said he. "All the wells sunk in that section have been shallow affairs,and yet a dozen or more different kinds of water have been found, and gas was struck only a few feet below the surface. The mound is similar to the one in Jeferson County and they are unlike any other mound found in the state or in the coast country. I do not believe that th oil runs in a straight channel from Corsicana to the gulf, but I entertain the theory that beneath the mounds there is a large basin or well, and that if oil issltruck on any part of themound, it will be found on all parts of the mound. The gas well is on the other side of the mound, and I think that had the well been dug deeper, I don't know how deep, perhaps 2,000 feet, the result would have been oil. It is my opinion that a pond of oil lies beneath the mound and that above the oil is a storage of gas which once released would admit to easy access of the oil.

"The terms of the leases executed on land around High Island, much of which is in the marshy section, are 10 percent of the oil profits to the land owner, the lease paying for the experiment and sinking of the well."

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