Lucus Gusher
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Lucas gusher fever affected so many folks, far and wide

By W. T. Block

Reprinted from Beaumont Enterprise, Saturday June 26, 1999.

NEDERLAND -- A century in retrospect, Beaumonters might have real difficulty visualizing what effect the success of the Lucas gusher brought to their city during the weeks following Jan. 10, 1901; or for that matter the effect the gusher created nationwide.

Even the residents of early Nederland and Port Neches could tell that something was strangely amiss, and several rode north on horseback along the railroad track, seeking the solution. The gusher emitted a high-pitched, hissing sound and an extremely pungent odor that the north wind blew toward Port Arthur.

The oil geyser seemed to have an intoxicating effect on everyone elsewhere as well. Excursion trains arrived from several nearby points, loaded with sightseers hoping to see the "great spouter." And of course half of the newcomers were those connected with the petroleum industry - drillers, financiers, oil men, speculators, and lease men.

A week earlier Corsicana had had a small but industrious oil economy, producing about 1 million barrels annually. A month later, however, the Lucas gusher had gutted that town’s oil industry, losing its drilling rigs, drillers, lease men, and others, who boarded trains bound for Beaumont.

Some wealthy Beaumont lumbermen just wished the "oil monster’ and the crowds it attracted would go away. On Jan 20th, William Wiess "took a large party of prominent Beaumont citizens and visitors up Neches River on his yacht" to show them the sights bordering the river.

Also on Jan. 20th, the day that the gusher was capped, "a good many Texas legislators have gone to Beaumont" ... to inquire about buying property and earning possible profits.

And property prices quickly skyrocketed, both in the oil field and in town. A vacant lot at Main St. and Bonham, which had sold for $5,000 on Jan. 2nd, was placed on the market on Jan. 20th for $20,000.

By Jan. 21st, even Galveston became "intoxicated" with Lucas gusher fever. Saloons there were selling mixed drinks called "gusher punch," "geyser julip," and "spouter treat." On that day, an excursion train, loaded with 535 Galvestonians, arrived the day after the well was capped. Galveston Daily News of Jan. 21, 1901 reported:

"...There was nothing to see except the oily derrick... They (the Galveston visitors) went to the outside fence which surrounds the well... rushed past the guards ... tore down the fence... which enclosed the well. Here the guards did their best to keep them back, but without success... They went over the inner fence, swarmed about the well, and some wanted to loose the spouter again, but the valve was covered with sand...."

Thus the Galvestonians did not get to see the gusher spouting skyward, but they seemed content to return home with only sample bottles of oil.

At the apex of the gusher fever, the Beaumont Oil Exchange traded the stocks of 600 hastily incorporated companies, but all but two became financial flops. Only Texaco and Gulf Refining Co. (later Chevron) survived the boomtown frenzy to become major oil companies.

W. T. Block of Nederland is a historian and author. His website is http://wtblock.com/wtblockjr/ This database is very large (350 articles) and is intended as an area history source for students.

Copyright © 1998-2018 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
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