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On this day: 01-10-1901

Texans strike oil

In the town of Beaumont, Texas, a 100-foot drilling derrick named Spindletop produced a roaring gusher of black crude oil. The oil strike took place at 10:30 a.m. on this day in 1901, coating the landscape for hundreds of feet around in sticky oil. The first major oil discovery in the United States, the Spindletop gusher marked the beginning of the American oil industry. Soon the 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. English inventor R.W. Thompson received a British patent for his new carriage wheels, which had inflated tubes of heavy rubber stretched around their rims--the world´s first pneumatic tires. They became popular on horse-drawn carriages, and later prevented the first motorcar passengers from being shaken to pieces.

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