1920s CASPER WYOMING SALT CREEK OIL FIELD PETROLEUM PRODUCTION NITROGLYCERIN FRACKING 58314
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Made in the late 1920s or early 1930s, this silent movie made by the Burlington Railroad and titled “Petroleum” shows the oil industry in and around Casper, Wyoming including the Salt Creek Field. The Salt Creek Oil Field around the town of Midwest, Wyo., about 40 miles north of Casper, is still producing oil today and was at one time the largest producing oil field in the world. At 1:12 a sweeping panorama reveals the working field while at 1:25 hundreds of pipes — possibly thousands — await disposition. At 1:38 an oil well is constructed as a concrete foundation is laid. At 2:16 the steel tower is erected. At 2:30 the drill is ready for the drilling crew and at 2:40 drilling commences. At 3:24 a drill bit heads down into the shaft. At 4:05 nitroglycerin is prepared for “shooting the well.” This is a form of fracking that utilizes explosives — using an iron container about the size of a large thermos, nitro, stick a blasting cap on it, send it down the well, and then send a weight down to detonate it. BOOM. At 6:07 a gusher is produced. At 6:30 pumpjacks are seen pumping oil into receiving tanks.At 7:40 the electrical plant powering everything is shown. At 8:25 a gas plant is shown. At 9:30 crude oil is pumped to a refinery 45 miles distant via a pipeline. Various stills where different types of refined product made are shown. At 12:00 a paraffin plant is shown. A million pounds of paraffin wax are shipped per week according to a title card. At 13:16 drums of oil are loaded for shipment on railroad boxcars. At 14:10 a worker cleans coke from the stills, an incredibly dirty job. At 14:40 coke is loaded by wheelbarrow into railroad cars. At 15:20 tank cars are filled with product. At 16:47 some of the staff of the Burlington Railroad are introduced including J.G. Grisinger, superintendent of the Casper Division. (According to an issue of the Burlington Hawk-Eye Gazette, Mr. Grisinger left the job at Casper in 1931 to take a job in Burlington, Iowa, so this dates the film to about 1930). Also shown is trainmaster Hinshaw, master mechanic Melker, agent G.S. Scott and others.
The Salt Creek Oil Field is located in Natrona County, Wyoming. By 1970, more oil had been produced by this field than any other in the Rocky Mountains region and accounted for 20 percent of the total production in Wyoming.
Petroleum seeps in the area were known before 1880, but oil strikes near Lander led to claims by Schoonmaker and Iba. In 1889 the first well to strike oil was drilled in the Shannon pool by P.M. Shannon, president of the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Company, who in 1895 built an oil refinery in Casper to process the oil. Dr. Porro, an Italian geologist working for the Dutch company Petroleum Maatschappij Salt Creek in 1906, located the Dutch No. 1 near a large oil seep south of the Shannon wells, which was drilled in 1908. The “gusher” well reached an oil sand after drilling through 1,000 feet (300 m) of shale.
In 1915, a portion of the Teapot Dome was made Naval Petroleum Reserve Number 3.
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