The Lucas Gusher, 1901

photo courtesy of the American Petroleum Institue

"Black Gold" erupted from this well near Beaumont, Texas to a height greater than 150 feet (nearly 50 meters) on January 10th, 1901. It was not brought under control for 9 days, losing one million barrels of oil in the process. A device now called a "Christmas Tree" was invented on the spot to control the flow of oil. Christmas trees are now commonplace in the industry to prevent just such an occurence. An estimated 850,000 barrels of oil was lost. By today's standards, that's a loss of about $17,000,000. Of course, given the huge amount of oil which glutted the market after this discovery, the price of oil dropped from $2 to $.03 per barrel.

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