Howdy everybody. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the oldgas gods for the chance to do this feature.I'm just hoping I can do 1/2 as good a job as Doc has done in the past.
This month we are going to feature the Union Oil Company AKA: UNOCAl. The company with that famous old 76 ball.
Here's a little history on the company.
To form Union Oil, co-founders Lyman Stewart, Thomas Bard, and Wallace Hardison merged their holdings. Although they could not then have foreseen the tremendous impact the automobile would soon have on oil demand, they were aware of oil's potential as an industrial and transportation fuel.
Stewart and Hardison met in the Pennsylvania oil fields, which boomed after the country's first oil well was drilled near Titusville in 1859. The partners built up modest oil fortunes, then sold out and moved west in the 1880's to seek greater opportunities in California.
In 1890, Stewart and Hardison combined their oil assets with those of Thomas Bard, a prominent businessman, to form the Union Oil Company of California. The company was incorporated on October 17, 1890, in the small town of Santa Paula, located about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
In 1891, Union Oil opened the first petroleum research laboratory west of the Mississippi with the initial aim of developing a process to extract non-smoking kerosene from the heavy California crudes, much less suitable to such use than the lighter, cleaner eastern oils. While the goal eluded Union Oil chemists, that rudimentary lab began a long tradition of research that served the company well.
By 1913, there were nearly 123,000 automobiles in California, prompting the company to open its first service station -- or "gas stand" -- on the corner of Sixth and Mateo streets in downtown Los Angeles. As the number of automobiles mushroomed, the company worked hard to keep pace. By 1925, Union had more than 400 service stations on the West Coast.
As the world went to war in the late 1930s, Union -- with a dynamic new leader in former steel man Reese Taylor -- beefed up production and refining to pour out fuels to support the Allies. The company's growth continued into the booming postwar era as Union expanded in all directions: discovering the first natural gas in Alaska and the first oil in Australia; taking a lead position in offshore development in the Gulf of Mexico; building a thriving chemicals business; and developing a revolutionary refining technology -- Unicracking -- that became the most widely used in the world.