Washington County, Oklahoma ~ Industries

Manufacturing And Other Industries

While the manufacturing industries of Bartlesville are not large, yet it has a number of well established firms and others are being added. The eleven shops well prepared with foundry, welding, and manufacturing machinery for drilling tools, engines, oil tanks, well packers, pumps, pattern devices, and repair work of all kinds are in operation all the time. These shops employ several hundred men and are always running at full capacity.

Bartlesville being the center of oil and gas interest for this district, there are many oil well supply stores having offices here. Three large smelter companies are located in Bartlesville having a combined capacity for smelting 12,000 tons of ore a month. All grades of spelter, are handled, as well as zinc dust and oxide.

Over one hundred and fifty oil companies have offices in this city. Among these are some of the largest in the state. The Henry L. Doherty interests of New York, known as the Empire Gas & Fuel Co., have the central offices of the Southwest in Bartlesville, occupying eight stories of the Masonic building. Their office employees number over eight hundred. The Phillips Petroleum Co., the Indian Territory Illuminating Co., and the Barnsdall Oil Co., are among the largest companies represented in the city. Numerous pipelines, torpedo companies and drilling contractors center their activities here for the convenience of reaching the territory where their activities are located.

The Bartlesville Zinc Company and the National Zinc Company own and operate the three smelting plants adjoining the city on the southwest.

Taken as a whole, the smelters are the largest employers in the city. With operations reduced somewhat below capacity, there is at present employed more than 850 men and the total annual payroll exceeds $1,500,000; when operating at full capacity, more than twelve hundred men are employed with an annual payroll in excess of $2,500,000.

In the operation of these plants there are numerous departments which may be considered as a complete manufacturing plant. For instance, at each plant is a complete pottery where retorts, condensers, fire brick and many other articles of clay are manufactured for use. At each plant is maintained a complete machine shop with a corps of machinists, electricians, carpenters, brickmasons and general repair men.

Ores from China, Italy, Mexico and various points in the United States, particularly from Butte, Mont., and Joplin, Mo., are shipped to Bartlesville and smelted. The resulting product, spelter or crude zinc, is cast into plates and shipped to all parts of the world for use in making brass products and in galvanizing iron for manufacturing tubs, buckets, telephone wire, roofing, etc. At the Bartlesville Zinc Company’s north plant is also manufactured zinc oxide, which is used in making paints and, in its refined form, as an antiseptic and zinc dust, from which our fireworks and signal flares are made.

The ore is received and sent first to the roasting furnaces where a gradually applied heat removes the excess sulphur. Next is the mixing room where coal, coke, salt and earth are mixed with the ore into what is known as the charge. This charge goes to the furnaces where it is packed into retorts, or horizontal caldrons, and subjected to an intense heat which, combined with the action of the various chemicals in the charge, releases the zinc in vapor form. This vapor floats into the condenser set at the end of the retort, and, after condensing to a molten metal, is drawn from there into pots and cast into slabs.

The other towns of any size and importance in Washington County are Dewey, Ramona, Ochelata, Copan, Vera and Wann. Of these, Dewey is the largest.

Dewey is located but four miles north of Bartlesville on the Santa Fe and M. K. & T. railroads. Like Bartlesville, it owes its beginning to Jacob Bartles. Mr. Bartles was instrumental in securing the first railroad to build down through Washington County. It was called the Kansas, Oklahoma & Southwestern, but was soon absorbed by the Santa Fe system. When the railroad reached the present site of Dewey, Mr. Bartles moved one of his country stores over to the railroad. This took place shortly after Admiral George Dewey won his great victory over the Spaniards by destroying their fleet in Manila Bay, and as the praises of the hero of Manila Bay were being sung by Americans everywhere, Mr. Bartles and his associates decided to name the new town after him. The little village has now grown to be a thriving city of 2500 inhabitants. Its growth and principal industries are largely due to the development of oil and natural gas in that vicinity, and to the smelters which the bountiful supply of gas induced to locate there. For several years Dewey gained quite a good deal of fame and free advertising by the annual Round-ups which were held there and which attracted many of the old-time cowboys who were anxious to show the world that they had not forgotten how to rope the wild steers, an art in which they had become wonderfully proficient in former days. Later, Dewey established a County Fair which combined the exhibitions of the cowboy of the past with the products of the modern farm. These annual exhibitions were an admirable blending of the old-time civilization with the newer era of the agriculturist,-the transformation from cowboy days to ploughboy days.

Dewey is well supplied with modern homes, stores, hotels, churches and has established a first class public school system including all of the common school grades and an approved high school, thirty-three teachers composing the entire faculty.

Ramona, a town of about one thousand people, is located in the southern part of Washington County on the Santa Fe Railroad. It, too, has been benefited by great development of oil and gas in that section of the state. Ramona has a consolidated school district, which includes quite a territory outside of the corporation, and a good high school, as well as the common school grades, is well managed with a faculty of twenty-one teachers.

The other towns of Washington County have good stores, churches, comfortable homes and excellent public schools.

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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