Sinclair Oil Corporation

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Sinclair Oil Corporation
TypePublic until 1969
Subsidiary 1969–1976
Private since 1976
IndustryOil and gasoline
FoundedMay 1, 1916; 105 years ago (1916-05-01)
FounderHarry F. Sinclair
Key people
Robert E. Holding, former CEO and Owner
Carol Holding (CEO)[1]
RevenueDecrease US$ 5 billion (2019)[1]
OwnerHolding family[2]
Number of employees
1,200 (2019)[1]

Sinclair Oil Corporation is an American petroleum corporation, founded by Harry F. Sinclair on May 1, 1916, as the Sinclair Oil and Refining Corporation by combining the assets of 11 small petroleum companies.[3] Originally a New York corporation, Sinclair Oil reincorporated in Wyoming in 1976.[4] The corporation's logo features the silhouette of a large green dinosaur, based on the then-common idea that oil deposits beneath the earth came from the dead bodies of dinosaurs. It is ranked on the list of largest privately owned American corporations.[1] It owns and operates refineries, gas stations, hotels, a ski resort, and a cattle ranch.[1]


Sinclair has long been a fixture on American roads with its dinosaur logo and mascot, a Brontosaurus.


A restored Sinclair station in Albany, Texas

During September 1919, Harry Sinclair restructured Sinclair Oil and Refining Corporation, Sinclair Gulf Corporation, and 26 other related entities into Sinclair Consolidated Oil Corporation.[5] In 1932, this new entity was renamed Consolidated Oil Corporation. In 1943, it was renamed Sinclair Oil Corporation.[6]

Near the beginning of the Great Depression, Sinclair sold the remaining interest in its pipeline subsidiary to Standard Oil Company (Indiana) for US$72.5 million (Standard Oil had purchased a 50% interest in the pipeline subsidiary in 1921).[7] With these funds, including an additional US$33.5 million from an additional common stock issue, Sinclair retired several promissory notes and prepared to weather the Depression with the remaining supply of cash.

Between 1921 and 1922, Sinclair leased oil production rights to Teapot Dome in Wyoming without competitive bidding. This led to the Teapot Dome scandal.

At that time, Sinclair Oil seemed to offer a viable alternative to the Italian fascist government, which was officially aiming to boost competition; in fact, most of the Italian oil market was controlled by the Italo-American Petroleum Society (SIAP), which in turn was fully dominated by Standard Oil.[8] As the Teapot Dome scandal unfolded in the United States and reached the international press, Mussolini accelerated the negotiations, with a deal signed on 4 May 1924 (although without an official meeting, to avoid public outcry). In this regard, Sinclair Oil Company is known for having made "large payments to leading Fascists—all acting as intermediaries for Benito Mussolini—in return for an exclusive monopoly to drill for oil on Italian soil and in the Italian colonies".[9] The deal was reported in a press release by the Head of Government (Mussolini) issued on the night of May 15, 1924 and published by most newspapers on the following day: the press release assured the public that Sinclair Oil had been awarded its contract on competitive basis and had provided guarantees it had no relations with the international oil trust.[10] This case of corruption was discovered by the whistleblower and anti-fascist politician Giacomo Matteotti, who was later kidnapped and killed by Mussolini's newborn secret police, just before he could report his discoveries to the Parliament. In his posthumous article, published in the July issue of English Life (a magazine founded by Brendan Bracken), Matteotti accused Sinclair Oil of being a Pawn of Standard Oil, as well as revealing "grave irregularities concerning the concession."[11][12] Matteotti's theses were echoed in the notes of Epifanio Pennetta, who contributed to the preliminary investigation on the murder: "To all appearances," companies like Nafta and Saper "were in competition with the Sinclair company, while in fact they were in cahoots with Sinclair" and added that Sinclair Oil was actually working "in concert" with Standard Oil.[13]

During the Great Depression, Sinclair saved many other petroleum companies from receivership or bankruptcy and acquired others to expand its operations. In 1932, Sinclair purchased the assets of Prairie Oil and Gas' pipeline and producing companies in the southern United States, and the Rio Grande Oil Company in California.[14] The purchase of Prairie also gave Sinclair a 65% interest in Producers and Refiners Corporation (or Parco), which Sinclair subsequently acquired when Parco entered receivership in 1934. Lastly, in 1936, Sinclair purchased the East Coast marketing subsidiary of Richfield Oil Company, which had operated in receivership for several years. Richfield then reorganized, resulting in the creation of the Richfield Oil Corporation. Sinclair was instrumental in transferring capital and managerial assets into Richfield. Thirty years later, Richfield merged with Atlantic Refining, located on the East Coast, forming Atlantic Richfield.[15]

Sinclair Dinoland plastic brontosaurus, 1964, in the collection of The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

At the Chicago World's Fair of 1933–1934, Sinclair sponsored a dinosaur exhibit meant to play on the link between the formation of petroleum deposits and the time of dinosaurs, now a largely discredited[citation needed] misconception.[16] The exhibit included a two-ton animated model of a brontosaurus.[17] The exhibit proved so popular it inspired a promotional line of rubber brontosaurs at Sinclair stations, complete with wiggling heads and tails, and the eventual inclusion of the brontosaur logo. Later, inflatable dinosaurs were given as promotional items, and an anthropomorphic version appeared as a service-station attendant in advertisements. Some locations have a life-size model of the mascot straddling the building's entrance.

In the early 1960s, Sinclair developed the Turbo-S, along with Henry W. Peters, his son Eric Woods, aircraft oils used for reliability in commercial jets, military jets, guided missiles and space exploration rockets.[18]

At the New York World's Fair of 1964–1965, Sinclair again sponsored a dinosaur exhibit, "Dinoland", featuring life-size replicas of nine different dinosaurs, including their signature brontosaurus. Souvenirs from the exhibit included a brochure ("Sinclair and the Exciting World of Dinosaurs") and molded plastic figurines of the dinosaurs featured. After the Fair closed, Dinoland remained as a traveling exhibit.[17][19][20]

Two of the replicas (Tyrannosaurus and Brontosaurus) are still on display at Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, Texas.[20][21][22] Another, a model of a Trachodon, has been displayed at Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago, Illinois.[20] A replica of a Triceratops is either owned by the Kentucky Science Center and was being stored outdoors at an industrial park in South Louisville, Kentucky in 2016[20] or was donated by Sinclair to the Smithsonian Institution and is on display as "Uncle Beazley" in the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.[23]

In 1955, Sinclair ranked 21st on the Fortune 500; by 1969, it had fallen to 58th.[24]

ARCO era[edit]

Sinclair Oil advertisement in Menard, Texas

In 1969, Sinclair was acquired by the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO). Federal antitrust provisions required the new entity to divest itself of certain Sinclair assets, and as a result, the East Coast operations of Sinclair were sold to BP (which has since purchased ARCO). After the acquisition by ARCO, the dinosaur was phased out, but at least one service station, in Winona, Minnesota, retained the original look through the 1980s. Many Sinclair stations in the Midwest continued to use the dinosaur logo, along with ARCO's "diamond spark" logo. At least some Sinclair stations partially retained the Sinclair brand for a time, using ARCO's blue rectangular logo, including the "spark" graphic, but with the word "Sinclair" substituted for ARCO.

Holding era[edit]

Restored Sinclair gas pump

In 1976, ARCO spun off Sinclair by selling certain assets to Robert (Earl) Holding. Sinclair has been owned by the Holdings since 1976. Assets divested in the spin-off included ARCO's retail operations in the region bounded by the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, and the rights to the Sinclair brand and logo, resulting in many stations along Interstate 80 keeping the dinosaur logo. The ARCO stations in Texas, New Mexico, Illinois and some portions of Oklahoma were not affected by the divestiture, and they continued as part of ARCO until ARCO pulled out of those states in the 1980s.

Currently headquartered in Salt Lake City, Sinclair is the 75th-largest private company in the United States.[25] There are 2,607 Sinclair filling stations in 20 states in the Western and Midwestern United States. As of 2010, the corporation operates two refineries—one in Casper, Wyoming, and one in Sinclair, Wyoming. Sinclair operated a third refinery in Tulsa, Oklahoma, until it was sold to Holly Corporation on December 1, 2009. Sinclair's other operations include 1,000 miles of pipeline.

In the mid-2010s, Sinclair fuel stations began actively spreading across southern California, including Los Angeles, San Diego, and Fresno with holders offering attractive deals for potential clients to make the switch from a private brand to the Sinclair name brand.[26]

By 2018, Sinclair gas stations were widely distributed across the United States with gas stations in Arkansas (1), Arizona, California (dozens), Colorado (dozens), Connecticut, Iowa (dozens), Idaho (dozens), Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota (dozens), Missouri (dozens), Montana (dozens), Nebraska (dozens), North Dakota, Nevada (dozens), New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma (dozens), Oregon (dozens), South Dakota (dozens), Texas, Utah (dozens), Washington, Wisconsin (1), and Wyoming (dozens).[27]

Sinclair continues to use the green dinosaur, affectionately called "Dino" and markets all its products under the logo. Sinclair patented the gasoline additive SG-2000. The high-octane fuel blend is called "Dino Supreme" and regular gas is "Dino", trade names used since 1961 when many oil companies still used trade names for their fuels instead of generic terms such as "regular," "premium," or "unleaded". Before that time, Sinclair's trade names for its gasoline products included "Power X" for high-octane fuel and "Sinclair H-C" for regular gas. Sinclair also has marketed products such as Dino, Dino Supreme, and Opaline motor oils.

Sinclair Trucking Company[edit]

Sinclair filling station along Idaho Street (Interstate 80 Business) near College Avenue in Elko, Nevada.

Company-owned Sinclair Trucking[28] provides distribution for Sinclair Oil fuels and other related products. Terminals are located in:

Grand America Hotels & Resorts[edit]

Sinclair Oil Company also owns and operates Grand America Hotels & Resorts, which has hotel properties in Salt Lake City, Utah; Flagstaff, Arizona; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Little America, Wyoming; and San Diego, California, in addition to the Sun Valley and Snowbasin resorts.

In popular culture[edit]

Old Sinclair Dino gas pump

The Brontosaurus logo is parodied in the Toy Story and Cars franchise films as being the "Dinoco" gas station chain, perhaps an allusion to gasoline and its origin as a fossil fuel, as well as a portmanteau between the "dinosaur" in Sinclair's logo and the suffixes of the "Amoco", "Conoco", and "Sunoco" franchises.[citation needed]

The TV series Dinosaurs featured several characters with names derived from fossil fuel companies. The main character and his family had the surname Sinclair.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Sinclair Oil on the Forbes America's Largest Private Companies List". Forbes.
  2. ^ Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  3. ^ "Wall Street Bankers Finance Oil Combine For First Time". Archived from the original on June 13, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2007.
  4. ^ Wyoming Secretary of State, Corporations Division. Search keyword = Sinclair. 2nd page. CID 198000134254. Retrieved January 12, 2007. Archived August 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "New Domain is Four Times Size of Former Corporation With International Markets". Archived from the original on April 27, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2007.
  6. ^ "Prairie Joins Sinclair". Archived from the original on April 27, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2007.
  7. ^ "During Depression Years Canny Sale, Purchases Double Sinclair in Size". Archived from the original on April 27, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2007.
  8. ^ Canali, Mauro (2009). "The Matteotti murder and the origins of Mussolini's totalitarian Fascist regime in Italy". Journal of Modern Italian Studies. 14 (2): 159. doi:10.1080/13545710902826378. S2CID 143963988.
  9. ^ Canali, Mauro (2009). "The Matteotti murder and the origins of Mussolini's totalitarian Fascist regime in Italy". Journal of Modern Italian Studies. 14 (2): 143–167. doi:10.1080/13545710902826378. S2CID 143963988.
  10. ^ Italian Government (16 May 1924). "L'estrazione degli olii minerari e la convenzione con la "Sinclair" (Comunicato del Governo)" [The extraction of mineral oils and the contract with Sinclair (Government Press Release)]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  11. ^ Matteotti, Giacomo (1924). "Machiavelli, Mussolini and Fascism". English Life. 3 (2): 86–87.
  12. ^ Canali, Mauro (2009). "The Matteotti murder and the origins of Mussolini's totalitarian Fascist regime in Italy". Journal of Modern Italian Studies. 14 (2): 162. doi:10.1080/13545710902826378. S2CID 143963988.
  13. ^ Canali, Mauro (2009). "The Matteotti murder and the origins of Mussolini's totalitarian Fascist regime in Italy". Journal of Modern Italian Studies. 14 (2): 162–163. doi:10.1080/13545710902826378. S2CID 143963988.
  14. ^ Jakle, John A.; Sculle, Keith (1994). The Gas Station in America. The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-4723-0.
  15. ^ "Richfield Also Salvaged". Archived from the original on April 27, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2007.
  16. ^ Nersesian, Roy L. (2010). Energy for the 21st Century, A Comprehensive Guide to Conventional and Alternative Sources, Second Edition. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharp, Inc. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-7656-2412-3.
  17. ^ a b (1) "Dinosaur Fever – Sinclair's Icon". Petroleum History Almanac. Washington, D.C.: American Oil & Gas Historical Society. 2016. Archived from the original on April 10, 2016. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  18. ^ Sinclair Turbo-S Oils. Aviation Week & Space Technology, May 13, 1963, v. 78, No. 19, p. 46.
  19. ^ "Sinclair's New York World's Fair (1964–65) "Dinoland" Pavilion". Sinclair History. Sinclair Oil Corporation. 2013. Archived from the original on May 9, 2015. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  20. ^ a b c d "Sinclair Dinoland: New York World's Fair 1964–65". Science Leads the Way. Frank J. Leskovitz. 2016. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  21. ^ "Dinosaur Valley State Park – Texas Parks & Wildlife Department".
  22. ^ "Dinosaur Valley State Park, Glen Rose, Texas".
  23. ^ (1} Goode, James M. (1974). Uncle Beazley. The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C.: A Comprehensive Historical Guide. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 260. ISBN 9780881032338. OCLC 2610663. Retrieved 2016-07-04. This 25-foot long replica of a Triceratops ... was placed on the Mall in 1967 ...
    The full-size Triceratops replica and eight other types of dinosaurs were designed by two prominent paleontologists, Dr. Barnum Brown of the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, and Dr. John Ostrom of the Peabody Museum, in Peabody, Massachusetts. The sculptor, Louis Paul Jonas, executed these prehistoric animals in fiberglass, after the designs of Barnum and Ostrom, for the Sinclair Refining Company's Pavilion at the New York World's Fair of 1964. After the Fair closed, the nine dinosaurs, which weighed between 2 and 4 tons each, were placed on trucks and taken on a tour of the eastern United States. The Sinclair Refining Company promoted the tour for public relations and advertising purposes, since their trademark was the dinosaur. In 1967, the nine dinosaurs were given to various American museums.
    This particular replica was used for the filming of The Enormous Egg, a movie made by the National Broadcasting Company for television, based on a children's book of the same name by Oliver Buttersworth. The movie features an enormous egg, out of which hatches a baby Tricerotops; the boy consults with the Smithsonian Institution, which accepts Uncle Beasley for the National Zoo.

    (2)"A Dinosaur at the Zoo". Art at the National Zoo. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Archived from the original on June 12, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
    (3) "Uncle Beazley's Family Tree". Geocache: National Museum of Natural History Geotour. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. June 25, 2016. Archived from the original on July 1, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  24. ^ "FORTUNE 500: Sinclair Oil". Retrieved March 29, 2007.
  25. ^ "Sinclair Oil on the Forbes America's Largest Private Companies List". Forbes. Retrieved Aug 28, 2019.
  26. ^ "Gas from the past now pumps in Coronado". Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  27. ^ "Locations".
  28. ^ "Trucking Services".

External links[edit]