Drumright Oil Well Nears Its Centennial
DRUMRIGHT, Oklahoma - Every time the pump on the Wheeler No. 1 in Drumright goes up and down, it's like a heartbeat of the area's history.
The well is unique. On March 17th it will have produced oil for a century.
"Well it's very rare. I'm not sure there are any other wells that have been producing for 100 years continuously," said Steve Crowder of Little River Energy, who is fascinated with the well's history.
"During World War I, this was one of the saving graces for our military because we had such a great supply of crude oil here."
In 1912, the King of the wildcatters, Tom Slick, discovered oil on the Wheeler farm.
It led to a great oil field named after Cushing, because Drumright wasn't even a town yet.
"He drilled his share of dry holes, but he also discovered one of the great oil fields of the United States."
Slick leased all the horses, buggies and cars around before competitors could use them to get to the area.
That gave him a head start, and by 1915, he'd hit on more than 700 gushers.
It's remarkable how the Wheeler No. 1 has produced oil every day for 100 years now, but if you're an Oklahoma history buff, there's another amazing part of the story that has survived 100 years.
Slick didn't want word of his discovery spreading before he could sign more leases.
So the crude dugout was built.
"Apparently had armed guards that stayed up here," Crowder said. "Their purpose was twofold, one to keep people away and two to watch the well to make sure it didn't get away from them."
Imagine for a moment if this is where you lived and worked. There's not a lot of clearance. It was built with materials they had on hand in the early-day oil field, including planks with wooden pegs and bolted metal from old tanks.
"This was all that was here; there were no roads and certainly no motels," Crowder said.
The dugout hasn't changed in 100 years and the Wheeler No. 1 just keeps on pumping, playing a part in Drumright's past and future.
Steve Crowder: "Maybe our grandkids will be out here doing this.
Craig Day: 100 years from now.
Steve Crowder: Yeah, exactly.