Over the Top

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Image of gusher over wooden cable tool rig with derrick. Caption on image reads "Over The Top McDowell #1 responds to a 100 quart shot March 26th, 1921. Palace Studio, Big Spring, Texas." PBPM 79-039.031 Inscription (on back): This well was "salted" by S. E. J. Cox who went to federal prison for mail fraud -- the McDowell well drilled in Howard County in 1921 triggered a short-lived "oil boom" at Big Spring. Lee Jones Jr. 6-26-77 The McDowell Well No. 1 in Howard County, Texas was drilled, and "Salted" by a notorious oil promoter, S. E. J. Cox who was later sent to prison for mail fraud. The well was "salted" with Mitchell County crude oil from the Westbrook Field. The nitro shot on March 26, 1921 caused the oil placed therein by Cox to "head" and flow to and above the crown block of the derrick, thus creating the false appearance of a "gusher"; actually it was D&A soon thereafter. It was as dry as the proverbial "powder house." Many investors, including a number of prominent Big Spring bisiness [sic] men were taken in by this hoax and suffered substantial monetary loss. Cox found it advisable to obtain the services of Arthur J. Coyle, a barnstorming WW I ace, now living in San Antonio, Texas, to fly him out of the area with little or no delay. October 31, 1979 Lee Jones, Jr.
The images in this collection are for study purposes, teaching, classroom projection and research only. To use these digital files in any form, an attribution of "Photo courtesy of The Petroleum Museum, Lee Jones, Jr. Collection" must accompany the image.