In 1905, an oil strike forever transformed the small cow town, known as Tulsey Town, into a mushrooming metropolis. The strike, however, was not in Tulsa itself, but rather twelve miles south of town.
A man named Robert Galbreath, following the lure of black gold, traveled to Indian Territory in 1901 (the area did not become the state of Oklahoma until 1907) along with his partner, Frank Chesley.
The Glenn Pool
Four years later, the two drilled the Ida E. Glenn No.1, the discover-well of the Glenn Pool, Oklahoma’s first major oil field. It was soon to become the richest field the world had ever seen.
It quickly earned the name of the Glenn Pool, because it was a lake of oil. Black gold flowed from the ground so fast storage tanks couldn’t be constructed fast enough. In places the oil literally stood hub deep. Production peaked about 1907 with more than 100,000 barrels a day. The field grew from eighty acres to eight thousand acres during the first year and ultimately became roughly four miles long and two miles wide. (Difficult to imagine, right?)
Magic City to the Oil Capital of the World
So, you may be wondering, if the oil strike happened twelve miles south of the city, how did Tulsa become known as the Magic City? (And later as The Oil Capital of the World.)
The answer is simple. It’s called publicity. No matter that the strike was down the railroad tracks a ways, businessmen in Tulsa were determined to make Tulsa the center of all the action.
In time, a number of aggressive Tulsa promoters were renting fancy rail cars and traveling around the country touting all the reasons for people to pack up and move to Tulsa.
As mentioned, they first dubbed it The Magic City. By 1912, they settled on the “Oil Capital of the World.” The name stuck and the city was still carrying the name when I first moved to the area before the oil bust of the 1980s. And Glenpool is still a flourishing little town down Highway 75 from Tulsa. (The second n was dropped somewhere along the way.
By 1921, when my Tulsa Series books take place, over fifty millionaires resided in the city. (Do names like J. Paul Getty, Harry Ford Sinclair, and Waite Philips ring a bell?)
As the city outwardly gleamed and glistened, beneath the surface was a simmering cauldron about to boil over.
The first title in the series is available for e-readers. If you would like to be updated on the exact release date (and the re-releases of other Norma Jean Lutz classics) click HERE.
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Photo Credit: Tulsa Offices, 1909 — Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.
Glenn Oil Pool — Oklahoma Historical Society