Standard Oil of Kentucky

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The Standard Oil Company of Kentucky or Kyso was an oil company and gasoline distributor that operated in the southeastern United States from 1886 until it was acquired by Chevron Oil Company in 1960.[citation needed] After the breakup of the Standard Oil company in 1911, the company was awarded rights to run the oil operation of Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.[citation needed]

Formation and early years[edit]

Red River Gorge - Pumpjack.jpg
Pumpjack and wooden oil barrel in the forests around slate is a reminder of the long history of oil industry in Kentucky
Standard Motel and Service Station, Madisonville, KY

The Standard Oil Company of Kentucky was incorporated on October 8, 1886 under Kentucky laws.[1] It was founded as a division of the Standard Oil Trust to handle the assets of the Chess, Carley & Company, which Standard had acquired to handle product marketing and distribution for the southeastern U.S.[citation needed] It maintained corporate offices in all of the states it serviced, and also owned an oil refinery in Louisville, Kentucky, with a 500,000 barrel/year capacity. In 1892, it acquired the properties of Consolidated Tank Line Company.[1]

On the breakup of Standard Oil[edit]

When the monopoly was broken up as an illegal trust in the US Supreme Court case Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States in 1911,[2] Kyso was spun off to market to the states of Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. As was common at the time, though no longer controlled by a single entity, the various "Baby Standards" still continued to cooperate. For example, Kyso was supplied by fellow "Baby Standard" Standard Oil of New Jersey, better known as Esso. The company avoided the consolidation prevalent in the industry throughout the first half of the century, and continued to sell various Esso and Mobil Oil products.[citation needed][3] In 1930, it acquired the assets of Reed Oil Corp. of Atlanta, Georgia.[4] The Riverside Refinery, built by Kyso circa 1918 in West Louisville, Kentucky, is still the source of considerable study due to environmental concerns [5]

Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, started his first restaurant, the Sanders Court and Cafe, as part of a Standard Oil station in Corbin, Kentucky, in 1930.[6]

Acquisition by Chevron[edit]

In 1961, it was acquired by Standard Oil of California, effectively pushing Esso out of the former Kyso territory.[7] Esso began marketing itself across the region as the "official" Standard brand oil. In 1966, Chevron sued over the use of Standard, and won, forcing Esso to rebrand itself as Enco over the former Kyso territory. During and after the merger, Kyso constructed the Pascagoula Refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi, which began operations in 1963, and continues to operate today.[8] In 1971, Chevron changed over all of the former Kyso stations to the Chevron logo while retaining the Standard brand name. It still maintains some Standard-branded stations in all of its former territories, including the former Kyso states, in order to protect its use of the brand in those areas. Following the acquisition by Chevron, the "Kyso" name fell out of use.[citation needed]

In 2010, Chevron discontinued its retailing operations in Kentucky, leaving ownership of the Standard trademark in Kentucky in limbo.[9]

Though now a defunct brand, Kyso road maps published during the company's prominence in the 1930s and 1940s, are highly sought after by map collectors.[10]


  1. ^ a b Standard Oil Company – 1928, 1996–2006. Retrieved November 22, 2006.
  2. ^ STANDARD OIL CO. OF NEW JERSEY v. U S, 221 U.S. 1 (1910), Thomson FindLaw, 1994–2006, Retrieved November 22, 2006.
  3. ^ Standard Oil Company, Ohio Historical Society, 2006. Retrieved November 22, 2006.
  4. ^ Standard Oil Company – 1928, 1996–2006. Retrieved November 22, 2006
  6. ^ History-KFC, 2006, Retrieved November 22, 2006. Archived December 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Thompson, Eric V.A Brief History Of Major Oil Companies In The Gulf Region Arabian Peninsula and Gulf Studies Program, Retrieved November 22, 2006.
  8. ^ Pascagoula Refinery Profile,, 2002–2006. Retrieved November 22, 2006.
  9. ^ Sloan, Scott (2010-05-27). "Chevron stations changing in Ky. | Business". Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  10. ^ "When Maps Reflected the Romance of the Road" The New York Times, November 12, 2006. Retrieved November 22, 2006 note:subscription required.

Further reading[edit]