Sunday, December 9, 2007

Oil Discovery in Wyoming

Oil exploration and discovery within Wyoming has roots in the early 1800s, when this wild, beautiful country was still referred to as the Wyoming Territory, and still seemed boundless, raw, expansive, and virginal. One of the early explorers of this great territory, Captain Benjamin Bonneville, made a note in 1832 of a great “Tar Spring” that was much revered by fur trappers and the Native American population for its medicinal, healing properties. Other than retrieving a small quantity for use as horse ointment and treatment for their own aches and pains, the area remained untouched for the next fifty years, when a wildcatter named Mike Murphy ventured to that still undeveloped locale, braving Indian attacks and wild country, to drill Wyoming’s very first oil well. The oil was discovered at a depth of 300 feet near the very site Captain Bonneville and his men had stumbled upon a half-century prior. Word of Murphy’s find soon spread, and quickly, like-minded entrepreneurs rushed to the territory, many leaving California and their golden dreams, choosing instead to stake their claims for the crude at promising sites.

The most profitable of the new claims was the Salt Creek field discovered in 1887 by Cyrus William “Cy” Iba. Iba and family left California at the end of the gold rush and staked nearly 30 claims, but after a legal grapple with a group of New York investors known as “The Central Association of Wyoming” was left with only a small 80 acre parcel of what had become known as the “Jackass Claim”. This 80 acre claim would prove to be one of the largest oil supplies within Wyoming’s borders for many years to come.

The expansion of the Union Pacific Railroad Line brought more people, more business, and more industry to the territory; many of them were attracted by hopes of capitalizing on Wyoming’s newly discovered natural resource. The 1890s brought more significant oil strikes and investors banded together to finance Wyoming’s first oil refinery in 1895. The invention of the automobile created a new demand for the oil, and production and refining began to boom in Wyoming.

The 1920s saw many more oil wells springing up and in fact, one fifth of all the oil produced and refined in the United States in that decade was extracted at the Salt Creek field. Oil production continues in Wyoming in the present. Though many of its once ripe fields are exhausted, Wyoming’s place in the nation’s history of oil exploration continues.

About the Author: Robert Jent is the president of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

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