Thomas B. Slick was born in Pennsylvania in 1883. In his early 20's he migrated into Central Oklahoma and started leasing land in an area SW of Tulsa containing several rather pronounced surface highs along the Cimarron River. Seeps existed near these surface humps that often bled oil into the river.
After drilling ten straight dry holes he became known as "Dry Hole Slick." Persistence won out, however, and his fortunes changed significantly when he drilled the Wheeler No. 1 in 1912. The well roared to life at 2,300 feet and produced 417 BOPD. Slick capped and buried the well, covered up the oily soil from the gusher, and proceeded to lease thousands of acres in the area. With his position completed, he commenced to discovering the Cushing Oil Field and went from being called Dry Hole Slick in Oklahoma oil history... to the King of Wildcatters.
Above, Wheeler and Bartlesville wells located along and actually IN the Cimarron River; 1916
At the peak of its production in 1917, Cushing/Drumwright Field produced nearly 310,000 BOPD from over 3,000 wells. The oil from the Wheeler and underlying Bartlesville sands were of such good quality, dozens of refineries sprung up in the immediate area and by 1918 Cushing Field was the largest in Oklahoma and its production provided 25% of all of America's gasoline needs.
Cushing, Oklahoma, now, of course, is known as the hub of American pipelines, storage facilities and and US oil inventory accounting. Vast storage tanks overlie some of what use to be the great Cushing Field.
At the height of the Cushing boom a little community sprung up to house oil field workers, tank and pipe line builders, and the community grew into town status, named Slick, Oklahoma, naturally.
Throughout the 1920's, Slick had a population of 5,000 people. By 1932 production in the field dropped to 5,000 BOPD and today Slick, Oklahoma is essentially an abandoned reminder of an era past and has fewer than 300 people in it.
When the boom was over and the town abandoned in 1929 it was though a virus had caused all the people to suddenly just... leave. The following four photographs were taken of Slick, Oklahoma in 1938 by the renown photographer, Russel Lee, courtesy the Library of Congress:
A 1938 photograph of Slick, Oklahoma shotgun houses for oil field workers abandoned with the laundry still hung out to dry.
Bolted steel, welded steel and banded wooden
tanks outside Slick, Oklahoma
Right, an abandoned cable tool rig, 1938 and below
the Slick, Oklahoma Railroad Depot, once crowded with lease buyers, oil traders, hands, outlaws and whores, completely abandoned by 1938
In 1916, Mr. Slick and his wife had the first of three children, a son named, Tom Slick, Jr. who inherited part of his father's vast fortune, grew up in Oklahoma, had degrees from Yale, Harvard and MIT, and lived most of his life in San Antonio. Junior developed. among other things, tilt wall construction and the Southwest Foundation For Biomedical Research. He stayed out of the oil business, save for an occasional exploration deal or two, but became fabulously wealthy in his own right. He was flamboyant, owned his own airplanes and visited the Argyle Club in San Antonio, often, where friends of mine knew him quite well.
Tom Jr. hunted and fished all over the world, became good friends with famous Hollywood actors like Jimmy Stewart, mounted expeditions into the Himalayas is search of the Yeti, to Scotland for the Loch Ness Monster and spent millions of dollars on research, and search, for Bigfoot in Northern California.
Tom Slick, Jr. died in 1962 in an airplane crash in Montana. He was 46, the same age of his famous father's death.
Click the image above, a replica of a Yeti hand from Nepal, to read about Tom Slick, Jimmy Stewart and 'The Strange Saga of the Stolen Yeti Hand'