Texas Historical Documents

Oil, Wool and Sheep Manure

By Fred B. McKinley

Most everyone has heard of the "Lucas Gusher," which ushered in the great Spindletop Oil Field at Beaumont, Texas on January 10, 1901. The original field, however, peaked in 1902 and by 1924, annual production fell to less than 352,000 barrels.

What has gone almost unnoticed is the fact that on November 14, 1925, a "Second Spindletop" strike occurred—one that would completely overshadow the first. A small, relatively unknown Yount–Lee Oil Company, led by Miles Frank Yount, used modern deep drilling methods, exceeding depths of 3,550 feet, to gain access to the elusive Black Gold. The company, which grew to be the largest independent in the United States in its day, rivaled industry giants such as Texas Oil (Texaco) and Gulf. After Yount's death in November 1933, however, the heirs and stockholders in less than two years sold the company assets to Stanolind, a division of Standard Oil, for a whopping $41 million, which then represented the third largest financial transaction to occur in the country.

But during its heyday and with its oil storage tanks filled to the limit, Yount–Lee was ever concerned about the safety of its huge investment. The tank farm covered some 640 acres, and the presence of high grass and weeds created a fire hazard. In order to resolve the problem, sheep were brought in and after a fairly short period, the heard increased to about 1,301 head. During one of Frank Yount's inspection tours in August 1931, he pointed out to P. R. Mitchell, tank farm superintendent, that the corporate charter called for oil exploration—not the raising of sheep. Yount also noted that a large lamb crop of about 600 was anticipated.

In a joking manner, Mitchell remarked to his boss, "Well, in the first place, they're working for us, and in regard to the lambs, I can't help what they [the adults] do after working hours." The industrious Mitchell also mentioned that over 4,700 pounds of wool had been marketed at 9 ½ cents a pound, and that sheep manure was bringing $30 a ton. The enterprise provided 15 to 30 tons of manure each month.

Who says that oil, wool—and sheep manure don't mix?

If you enjoyed this story checkout Mr. McKinley's book. (link below)


© 1998 - - R. McSpadden - All rights reserved
. . . more from www.TexasBob.com
The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Texas Bob Media Services and while we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website. Through this website you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of Texas Bob Media Services. We have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them. Every effort is made to keep the website up and running smoothly. However, Texas Bob Media Services takes no responsibility for, and will not be liable for, the website being temporarily unavailable due to technical issues beyond our control.