At the beginning of the twentieth century, on the Gulf coast in the US state of Texas, there was a hill where gas leakage was so noticeable that schoolboys would sometimes set the hill on fire.
Patio Higgins, a disreputable local businessman, became convinced that there was oil below the gassy hill.
Oil wells weren't drilled back then.
They were essentially dug.
The sand under the hill defeated several attempts by Higgins’ workers to make a proper hole.
Higgins had forecast oil at 1000 feet, a totally made-up figure.
Higgins subsequently hired a mining engineer, captain Anthony Lucas.
After encountering several setbacks, captain Lucas decided to use a drill, and his innovations created the modern oil drilling industry.
In January 1901, at 1020 feet, almost precisely the depth predicted by Higgins Wild Gas,
the well roared and suddenly ejected mud and six tons of drilling pipe out of the ground, terrifying those present.
For the next nine days until the well was capped, the well poured out more oil than all the wells in America combined.
In those days, Texas was almost entirely rural, with no large cities and practically no industry.
Cotton and beef were the foundation of the economy.
Higgins’ well changed that.
The boom made some prospectors millionaires, but the sudden surplus of petroleum was not entirely a blessing for Taxas.
In the 1930s, prices crashed to the point that in some parts of the country, oil was cheaper than water.
That would become a familiar pattern of the boom or bust Texas economy.
Q12: What did Texas businessmen Patio Higgins believe?
Q13: What prevented Higgins’ workers from digging a proper hole to get the oil?
Q14: What does the passage say about Captain Lucas' drilling method?
Q15: What do we learn about Texas's oil industry boom?