Native Americans were the first to use Wyoming's oil and later show early explorers where to find it. Sticky black liquids bubbling in natural seeps were used for liniments and paints. In 1832, Captain Bonneville found the "great tar spring' below the red sandstone bluff area southeast of present day Lander. This discovery essentially began the record history of Wyoming's mineral wealth.
In 1851, mountain men found oil seeping along the Bridger Trail near Poison Spider Creek west of Casper and, mixing the oil with flour, sold it to westward-bound pioneers as axle grease.
In 1884, using a rig even more primitive the one before you, Mike Murphy drilled Wyoming's first oil well to a depth of 300 feet, near the "great tar spring", launching Wyoming's most important industry. Subsequently early discoveries in the state's northeast and southwest corners caused speculation that a great river of oil lay diagonally underneath Wyoming - a theory which was quickly disproved.
Between 1889 and 1925, twelve giant oil fields were discovered. Today these fields remain active, still producing a large portion of Wyoming's oil.
By the end of the 1920's, Americans has become mechanized and mobile, assuring oil a major role in the country's and the state's future. Industrial growth, advanced science and new pipelines opened
markets for natural gas which was produced with oil. Before that, the gas often hampered oil production and was burned of as an unusable by-product.
During the war years, Wyoming's oil industry responded by participating in numerous supply contracts. As a result of the war and continued economic growth, the state's oil production and proved reserves almost doubled between 1939 and 1945.
Throughout the next four decades, Wyoming achieved status as one of the nation's largest petroleum producing states becoming the 5th largest natural gas producer and the 6th largest producer of crude oil. By the end of the 1980's 14,000 wells, 10,000 miles of pipelines, 58 gas plants and 6 refineries were located throughout 22 of the state's 23 counties.
As Wyoming's petroleum industry proceeds into its second century, more than 6 billion barrels of oil and 17 trillion cubic feet of natural gas have been produced.