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Mexico, Parte Doce

We resume our series on Mexico with a return to the beginning, in Ebano in the northern region. due west of Tampico.

I've often referred to the writings of numerous scholars regarding the early history of the Mexican oil industry, none more often, and more important than the fine work of Dr. Jonathan C. Brown, Professor Emeritus, Department of History. Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin and his book, Oil and Revolution in Mexico.

Dr. Brown still lives in Austin and Ms. Catherine, being 100% Ms. Catherine, met with Dr. Brown recently and had him sign his book for me with plans for dinner later in January. They had coffee together and Catherine directed him to the recent Texas Monthly article about my retirement and to Oily Stuff. Needless to say I am absolutely thrilled.

Tampico; 1910

This photograph was taken a few kilometers due west of Tampico in 1910, five years after the first discovery of commercial oil was made in all of Mexico 1904 in a village called, Ebano. Almost everyone personally responsible for the discovery is found in this photograph.

In fact, two of the most renown oil finders in world history are in this photograph and deserve acknowledgement and recognition, please.

On the bottom, second from the right, is Edward L Doheny (1856-1935) from Los Angeles, California. He discovered heavy, low gravity oil in the La Brae area of Los Angeles in 1894 and drilled hundreds of wells, many in heavily populated area neighborhoods of Los Angeles, refined his oil into kerosene, and eventually sold completely out to Standard Oil in 1902, a multi-millionaire. This career as an oil finder was just getting started.

Doheny then explored an area in the northern part of Tampico/Tuxpam Basin of eastern Mexico, known for its oil seeps, and in 1904 made an enormous well in Ebano area that produced 10,000 BOPD. Doheny's work in Mexico helped lead to the discovery of the great, Golden Lane of Eastern Mexico, likely one of the most productive oil regions the world has very known.

Right, Mexican Petroleum Company, Ebano. No. 7 well located in Doheny's camp.

By 1920 Edward Doheny was the world's largest oil producer. He subsequently took his Mexican wealth and became a primary owner in Pan American Oil and Transport Company and made huge discoveries in and around Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela thru the late 1920's.

In 1924-1926 Mr. Doheny was twice acquitted of trying bribe the US Secretary of Interior over mineral leasing over the Teapot Dome, He became a noted philanthropist in Southern California, Doheny State Park has wonderful long board waves to surf on and his fame led the famous author, Upton Sinclair to create a character about Doheny in his 1927 book, Oil ! The movie, There Will Be Blood, was crafted from Sinclair's book and of Edward Doheny.

On the bottom row of the photograph, far left, is a man named, Joe Trees ( 1870-1943). Mr. Trees was born in Pittsburg and so gifted as a football player Joe was he is believed to have been the first college level athlete to have ever been given a scholarship in America. He played at the University of Pittsburg where he eventually received a degree in mechanical engineering.

Mr. Trees spent his summers in college working for Standard Oil in the fields of northeastern Pennsylvania with a friend from West Virginia named, Michael Benedum. In 1896 the two of them partnered up and bought some mineral leases in West Virginia and drilled seven oil producers in a row. They sold that production to Standard Oil and subsequently created the famous, and wildly successful, Benedum-Trees Company

Joe Trees and Mike Benedum found oil, lots of oil in the Illinois Basin, along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, partnered with Ed Doheny in Eastern Mexico, and again with him along the Lake in Venezuela, helped develop the massive oil fields of Romania around Ploiesti, in the Llanos Basin of Columbia and then made massive discoveries of oil in West Texas near Big Lake and in Yates Field.

Joe Trees personally found oil in Collier County in Florida but died of a heart attack at his office desk before the well could be put to the tanks. His philanthropical work benefited the entire state of Pennsylvania and at the University of Pittsburg, the football practice facility and team facilities are called Trees Field and Trees Hall.

These great men were true oil finders, true "wildcatters." The amount of oil and natural gas they found in far away, remote places on the planet over a century ago, often at great physical and financial risk, led directly to the industrialization of the entire world and is the basis for society as we know it today.


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