Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's here -- and then it's gone.

This was the oil boom town of Oil Hill which sprung up near El Dorado with the founding of Stapleton #1. It didn't last long but 2,500 oil field workers lived here while it did. The Well was discovered in 1915. How it was discovered is the significance of Stapleton.

Turn on your Explorer mindset. You're about to get an important lesson.

To understand everything about El Dorado, you need to understand this story -- and it's not just about oil. It's about the shotgun houses, the instant towns (that came and went quickly), the grocery stores in the instant towns, the schools. It's about the products made using petroleum. The story is about the men of wealth who invested and how oil not only changed El Dorado but launched the aviation industry in Wichita.

Stapleton #1 was one of the finalists for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce for a very good reason.

Stapleton #1 was the first well to be drilled using science and geology to pinpoint location.

On September 29, drilling contractors, Golden and Obins spudded Stapleton #1. Oil was discovered on October 6, 1915 at a depth of 2,497 feet and our history was changed forever.

Stapleton #1, the discovery well for the great El Dorado Field, became the most notable of all regional wells because it was located by scientific methods. It dawned on oil people that an unprecedented and utterly remarkable pinpointing had resulted from this geological work. Not only was oil found within the geologists recommended area, it was found on nearly every acre of that area, and almost none was found directly outside that area! It was shocking to the oil industry. The largest, formally organized industrial geological operation in history was launched.

It was the first time science and more specifically geology had been used to determine where to drill for oil by pinpointing locations on a map. In addition to location of wells the geologists also recommended how deep to drill.

Drive out to see the site of Stapleton #1. Follow the signs on N. Haverhill or 7th. Imagine 2,500 oil field workers once living there in shotgun houses.

You might actually want to go to the museum first so that your trip to the actual site will mean more -- so you can see the ghosts better. At the museum you'll learn about Oil Hill, Stapleton #1 and the lifestyle of oil workers/families at the Kansas Oil Museum/Butler County Historical Society Museum at 383 E. Central, El Dorado. 316.321.9333.

On the museum grounds is a recreated oil town. It's really so well done.

You can also learn more about this at the El Dorado booth at the Kansas Sampler Festival in Concordia's city park, May 2-3. For more information go to www.kansassamplerfestival.com.

What I love about those with an Explorer mind-set is that they are eager to learn about all aspects of rural culture which only sharpens their overall view of Kansas. Things start to slip into place and into an every broadening timeline.

To learn the diverse history of Kansas, is to "Get Kansas!"

KE #2 Marci Penner

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