Washington County, Oklahoma Experiment Station

Congress passed a law a few years ago providing for the establishment of ten mining experiment stations, at the same time appropriating an annual fund from the Federal treasury for the operation of these stations, all of which were to be under the supervision of the Bureau of Mines. In the latter part of 1917 the Secretary of the Interior, realizing the magnitude and importance of the petroleum industry as well as the many problems confronting the producers and refiners, decided that one of these stations should be devoted exclusively to petroleum and natural gas.

The question immediately arose as to where this station should be located in order that it might be of most value to the industry which it intended to serve. A short review of the field soon demonstrated that the hub of this great industry lay in Oklahoma and this state was the natural location for such an institution. The act passed by Congress did not provide the funds for erecting buildings for these stations as it was believed that the cities interested in any particular station would be willing to furnish the necessary space for offices and laboratories. Most of these experiment stations are located at the Universities in the different states but in the case of the petroleum station it was thought that it should be provided with separate buildings and a site of sufficient size to allow for expansion. The committee chosen to select the site for the petroleum station -decided that the city desiring the station should agree to provide a suitable site and a fund of $50,000 to be used for constructing and furnishing the buildings. Several cities made bids for this institution but Bartlesville was the first to positively guarantee to donate a suitable site and $50,000 cash for erecting the buildings and on January 1, 1918, the Secretary of the Interior approved the establishment of the petroleum experiment station in this city.

The purpose of the petroleum experiment station at Bartlesville has well been stated as follows : “The petroleum experiment station at Bartlesville was established by the Bureau of Mines for the purpose of cooperating with those actively engaged in the petroleum industry. It might be termed a laboratory for practical research and for solving problems, devising new methods, preventing wastes, effecting economics, and for collecting and disseminating information. Investigations are not limited to any one branch of the industry nor to any one part of the country. Wherever opportunities appear for increasing efficiency, whether in the drilling of wells, in the producing or transportation of oil and gas, in the storing, refining or utilization of oil and its products, they may be considered.”

The following comprises a partial list of the investigations conducted by the various members assigned to the Bartlesville station since it was established in 1918. A number of these investigations have been completed and the results published in bulletins of the Bureau of Mines ; other investigations included in the list are now being conducted by men connected with the experiment station:

  • Evaluation of Oil and Gas Properties-J. O. Lewis.
  • Natural Gas Gasoline Investigations-W. P. Dykema, R. O. Neal.
  • Airplane Fuels, for Use at High Altitudes-Clarence Netzen.
  • Inspection Airplane Gasoline-W. G. Hiatt.

Oil Field  Development Problems

  • Work in Comanche and Walters Fields-T. E. Swigart.
  • Drilling Operations-C. E. Beecher, G. S. Brewer.
  • Refinery Investigations-H. H. Hill, D. B. Dow, C. R. Bopp.
  • Value of Gas in the Osage Nation-H. R. Pierce.
  • Manufacture of Carbon Black-R. O. Neal.
  • Evaporation Losses of Crude Oil in Storage-J. H. Wiggins.
  • Quality of Gasoline Marketed in the United States-H. H. Hill.
  • Methods of Increasing the Recovery of Oil from Oil Sand-A. W. Ambrose, C. E. Beecher.
  • Conservation of Natural Gas in the Home-O. A. Elifritz.
  • Study of Underground Conditions in Oilfields-A. W. Ambrose.
  • Hewitt Field Investigation-T. E. Swigart, F. X. Schwarzenbek.
  • Study of Fractionating Towers-H. H. Hill.
  • Recovery of Gasoline from Still Vapors-D. B. Dow.

The Bureau’ of Mines Petroleum Station or, as it is more familiarly known locally, “The Government Experiment Station” is an institution of which Bartlesville feels justly proud. It is the only Government experiment station in the country devoted exclusively to studies of petroleum and natural gas and although comparatively young, has demonstrated that it can be of immense service to the city, state and industry by its work on methods for cutting down wastes in the production and utilization of Oklahoma’s two most valuable resources. Bartlesville, although not an “oil town” in the sense that the term is generally used, is nevertheless dependent on oil for its continued growth and prosperity and considers itself fortunate in harboring within its limits an institution universally recognized as an effective agency for prolonging the supply of the “stuff ” for which Oklahoma is famous, crude oil.

Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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