|Location||Spindletop Hill, South of Beaumont, Texas, USA|
|NRHP Reference #||66000818|
|Added to NRHP||November 13, 1966|
|Designated NHL||November 13, 1966|
Spindletop is a salt dome oil field located in the southern portion of Beaumont, Texas in the United States. The Spindletop dome was derived from the Louann Salt evaporite layer of the Jurassic geologic period. On January 10, 1901, a well at Spindletop struck oil ("came in"). The new oil field soon produced more than 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of oil per day. Gulf Oil and Texaco, now part of Chevron Corporation, were formed to develop production at Spindletop.
The strike at Spindletop represented a turning point for Texas and the United States; no oil field in the world had ever been so productive. The frenzy of oil exploration and the economic development it generated in the state became known as the Texas Oil Boom. The United States soon became the world's leading oil producer.
There had long been suspicions that oil might be under "Spindletop Hill." The area was known for its vast sulfur springs and bubbling gas seepages that would ignite if lit. In August 1892, George W. O'Brien, George W. Carroll, Pattillo Higgins and others formed the Gladys City Oil, Gas, and Manufacturing Company to do exploratory drilling on Spindletop Hill. The company drilled many dry holes and ran into trouble, as investors began to balk at pouring more money into drilling with no oil to show for it.
Pattillo Higgins left the company and teamed with Captain Anthony F. Lucas, the leading expert in the U.S. on salt dome formations. Lucas made a lease agreement in 1899 with the Gladys City Company and a subsequent agreement with Higgins. Lucas drilled to 575 feet (180 m) before running out of money. He secured additional funding from John H. Galey and James M. Guffey of Pittsburgh, but the deal left Lucas with only a small share of the lease and Higgins with nothing.
Lucas continued drilling and on January 10, 1901, at a depth of 1,139 ft (347 m), what is known as the Lucas Gusher or the Lucas Geyser blew oil over 150 feet (50 m) in the air at a rate of 100,000 barrels per day (16,000 m3/d)(4,200,000 gallons). It took nine days before the well was brought under control. Spindletop was the largest gusher the world had seen and catapulted Beaumont into an oil-fueled boomtown. Beaumont's population of 10,000 tripled in three months and eventually rose to 50,000. Speculation led land prices to increase rapidly. By the end of 1902, more than 500 companies had been formed and 285 wells were in operation.
Among those drilling at Spindletop was W. Scott Heywood, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, who in 1901 made the first oil discovery in nearby Jeff Davis Parish in southwestern Louisiana. In 1932, Heywood was elected to a single term in the Louisiana State Senate.
Production at Spindletop began to decline rapidly after 1902, and the wells produced only 10,000 barrels per day (1,600 m3/d) by 1904. On November 14, 1925, the Yount-Lee Oil Company brought in its McFaddin No. 2 at a depth of about 2,500 feet (800 m), sparking a second boom, which culminated in the field's peak production year of 1927, during which 21 millions barrels (3.3 GL) were produced. Over the ten years following the McFaddin discovery, more than 72 million barrels (11.4 GL) of oil were produced, mostly from the newer areas of the field. Spindletop continued as a productive source of oil until about 1936. It was then mined for sulfur from the 1950s to about 1975.
Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum
In 1976 Lamar University dedicated the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum to preserve the history of the Spindletop oil gusher era in Beaumont. The museum features an oil derrick and many reconstructed Gladys City building interiors furnished with authentic artifacts from the Spindletop boomtown period.
The Lucas Gusher Monument is located at the museum. The Monument, erected at the wellhead in July, 1941, was moved to the Spindletop-Gladys City Museum after it became unstable due to ground subsidence. According to an article by Nedra Foster, LS in the July/August, 2000 issue of the Professional Surveyor Magazine, the Monument was originally located within four feet of the actual site of the Spindletop well. 
Today a flag pole flying a Texas flag marks the location of the wellhead, at Spindletop Park, about 1.5 miles southwest of the Museum, off West Port Arthur Road/Spur 93. There is a viewing platform with information placards there, about a quarter mile from the flagpole, which is in the middle of swampland on private land and not accessible. Directions to the site are available at the museum.
- Hyne, Norman J., Nontechnical guide to petroleum geology, exploration, drilling, and production, Pennwell Books, 2nd ed. p. 193 ISBN 978-0-87814-823-3
- Wooster, Robert; Sanders, Christine Moor: Spindletop Oilfield from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved October 18, 2009., Texas State Historical Association
- Daniel Yergin, The Prize, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, pp.75–78.
- Daniel Yergin, The Prize, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, p.75.
- Daniel Yergin, The Prize, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, p.69.
- "Heywood, Walter Scott". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
- McKinley, Fred B., and Greg Riley. Black Gold to Bluegrass: From the Oil Fields of Texas to Spindletop Farm of Kentucky, historical non-fiction, Austin: Eakin Press, 2005, ISBN 1-4241-7751-0
- Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum (flash)
- Spindletop Oilfield from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Oil and Gas Industry from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Spindletop: The Original Salt Dome – World Energy Magazine Vol. 3 No. 2