EL DORADO, Kan. – These days El Dorado is probably best known as the place where President Obama’s maternal grandfather grew up for a while. It’s less well known for its oil and gas museum.
The oil industry in Kansas is 152 years old, dating from a well drilled in 1860. But it wasn’t until 1892-93 that a team of prospectors drilled the Norman #1 well and discovered a gusher in what became the large Mid-Continent field. The oil rush was on. Before long, Standard Oil had built a refinery in Neodesha and one company alone, belonging to I.N. Knapp, had more than a thousand operating oil wells around the town of Chanute and his own rail cars to ship the oil. By 1903 there were 100 oil companies operating in Kansas. New discoveries in late 1915 sparked another boom and the population of El Dorado grew to 7,000, seven times its size a year and a half earlier. Then it grew to 20,000 people within five years. In 1916, the first of six refineries opened, one of which is still functioning and drawing crude from the big pipeline hub in Cushing, Okla. Read More