Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

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On This Day

Thursday 10th January 1901

121 years ago

A 100-foot drilling derrick named at Spindletop near the town of Beaumont, Texas produced a roaring gusher of black crude oil - the first major oil discovery in the United States. The oil strike took place at 10:30 a.m., coating the landscape for hundreds of feet around in sticky oil. The drillers congratulated themselves and waited for the column of thick, black and green crude to subside. It didn't. The well continued to flow, almost 100,000 barrels a day, forcing the men to come up with some creative solutions. They erected earthen dikes to form vast ponds for the oil, putting up new barriers further away each time the advancing crude overran its banks. After nine days, they finally managed to put a lid on Spindletop. First they hauled a heavy sled of timber and railroad rails over the gusher. Then they installed the petroleum industry's first "Christmas tree," a short series of pipes with progressively smaller valves they closed to choke the well's flow. Spindletop became the focus of frenzied drilling; oil production from the field peaked in 1902 at 17,400,000 barrels (2,770,000 m3), but by 1905 production had declined 90% from the peak. Prices of petroleum-based fuels fell, and gasoline became an increasingly practical power source. Without Spindletop, internal combustion might never have replaced steam and battery power as the automobile power plant of choice, and the American automobile industry might not have changed the face of America with such staggering speed. Four decades after the landmark event, the Beaumont city fathers placed a pink granite monument at the historic site. An inscription on the 58-foot tall obelisk reads: "On this spot on the tenth day of the twentieth century a new era in civilization began."

The Lucas gusher at Spindletop, January 10, 1901. This was the first major gusher of the Texas Oil Boom.

The Lucas gusher at Spindletop, January 10, 1901. This was the first major gusher of the Texas Oil Boom.