E. Joe Brown

Award Winning Author

Cushing, Oklahoma at the Time of “A Cowboy's Destiny”

Jul 21, 2022 by E. Joe Brown

Cushing Oil Fields around 1915 to 1920

Cushing, Oklahoma (my hometown) is currently the largest oil storage facility in the world. This Payne County town of about 8,000 people is still known as the pipeline crossroads of the world, as many large transmission lines originate and terminate there. Cushing is a big part of the Kelly Can Saga series because, at the time of the story, it was booming and still has a significant place in oil and gas history.

In 1912 there was a major oil strike at what became the Cushing Field because of the determination of several men, including Tom Slick, a Pennsylvanian who learned the oil business in his home state. Legend says he could smell oil-laden sands before a drill bit touched the earth. Like so many, he initially failed as he tried to drill a producing well. Finally, he and his backers struck a gusher in what would eventually be the second largest oil field in Oklahoma’s history.

Tom Slick, known as the King of the Wildcatters
Tom Slick, known as the "King of the Wildcatters"
Cushing was a dusty, sleeping little town. There wasn’t a single telephone, electric line, paved street, or automobile in the city. In the time that immediately
followed his initial discovery, Cushing experienced tremendous growth commercially and in population. Oil caused an immediate change to Cushing and most of Payne County.

All over town, new businesses sprang up. You now found storage yards for pipe, the assorted machinery needed to drill oil wells, and restaurants and hotels catering to the masses coming to work in the oil fields. Other businesses opened to separate the oil field workers, with their newfound wealth, from that money.

Cushing struggled initially with this growth because the infrastructure needed to support the businesses and the population was not there. Housing was in such demand that people erected shanties from packing crates, cardboard, or anything else available on any plot of ground they could defend.

The countryside around Cushing changed as much as the city during the oil boom. The roads became crowded with fancy automobiles owned by men offering fistfuls of cash for drilling rights. Farmers who previously considered $100 cash a fortune suddenly were exposed to fast-talking city slickers from all over the country offering thousands of dollars for their signature on a lease.


The mammoth Cushing oil storage facility of today.
Cushing, as described, is the environment Charlie Kelly and his partner Hank Thomas supported the 101 Oil Company and E. W. Marland. I hope you enjoy the story.

"A Cowboy's Destiny" releases on August 23rd, 2022. You can preorder the book on Amazon.com
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