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  COTM JULY: UNION OIL COMPANY (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   COTM JULY: UNION OIL COMPANY
djhubba
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Posts: 3905
From: Seattle WA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 07-01-2004 02:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for djhubba   Click Here to Email djhubba     Edit/Delete Message
First let me start off by saying thanks to everyone for their kind thoughts through my continuing personal crisis’ and that this website and all of its members especially the active ones have become an online Family to me that I hold dear to my heart. I didn’t want my personal life to effect this Months Company of the Month and worked hard on researching the Union Oil Company of California as to not let the members down. There are some members that offered to help me with it since they worked for the Company for years and to them I said thanks, but I wanted to do it on my own. It took my mind off things, it was a lot of work but was fun for me at the same time. I encourage those members who offered to help to post memories, tidbits and pictures as they see fit. As always membership participation is greatly encouraged so everyone feel free to jump in anytime.. Most of the facts I have written about came from a book I own called “Sign of the 76” the Fabulous life and times of the Union Oil Company of California put out by the Company in 1976. I also drew stuff from old advertisements and articles written about the Company in old petro magazines. It is not my intent to plajorize and I tried to relay the info in my own words, but wanted to be thorough. I have written a detailed account of Historical information but I will also include a short sweet outline of major events in the Companies History for people who don’t want to read all the details and want a brief overview as to view the pictures of the collectibles sooner. As for said collectibles…MOST of the pictures I will post came from My Good friend Tom Stovers amazing Union collection. I want to thank him for the opportunity to photograph his collection and the permission to post it. Speaking of my posted pictures…the service I use for uploading them to Oldgas only hosts them for a couple of Months or so : so if anyone wants them to keep I suggest they download them to a folder because they wont be available in a couple of months. This is the only way I know how to post pictures, thanks for your patience. I truly hope you enjoy this Months Company of the Month : The Union Oil Company of California. I will start with the long version and will post an outline of major events later.
UNION OIL : EARLY DESPERATION TO SUCCESSFUL CORPORATION.

Jane irwin Stewart and William Reynolds Stewart had seven children. The second child born on July 22nd 1840 was named Lyman Stewart and would be later on in his life be recognized as one of the most successful oil men of his time.

As a teen in the late 1850’s Lymans job was to collect hides from local Farmers for his Fathers tannery in Northwestern Pa. Lyman loathed those stinky hides and to occupy his mind while doing this oderous menial task he would keep his eyes out for mysterious seeps which were commonly referred to as “Rock Oil”. The sticky black substance at the time was used in “medicines” that claimed to cure everything, not unlike the famous “snake oil” that grifters would peddle from town to town.Not really concerned with the gooey substance at the time, it was just a way to pass the time while collecting those dreaded hides for Dad. Lyman never realized at the time that this harmless pastime would make him the envy of seep geologists fro his uncanny “nose for oil”.
Lyman was a spiritual man and had plans to do much missionary work, he was much more concerned with this than “seneca oil” as it was locally labeled because of the Seneca Indians of that region used the substance as a bartering chip for the goods they needed. At first Lyman followed in his fathers footsteps at the Tannery which he detested greatly but continued to dream of Missionary work and spreading the Gospel.
Shortly after Edwin L. Drake, (Colonel Drake as he would become to be known after a buisiness partner tagged him with the nickname to give him more credibility) a retired railroad conductor struck oil for the first time using the drilling process in Titusville PA Aug 27th 1859, Lyman entertained the idea of the oil trade to fund his dream of becoming a missionary. After investing all the money Lyman had saved ($125.00) on Dec 5th 1859 on a piece of land on a local farm proved to be fruitless it wouldn’t be until 1861 before Lyman took another whack at oil. Ironically the same farm that let lyman down would (6 years later) go on to pump out 300 barrels a day. Thus proving his “nose for oil” didn’t fail him but perhaps his equipment did.
After 2 years of saving money, Lyman had enough for his second plunge. He had a handful of investors lease some land on another farm and this well proved to be a producer. Unfortunatly at the time many other wells were too thus flooding the market in effect driving prices down that eventually led to Lyman losing the lease on his well. After this successful second plunge Lyman caught “oil fever” and it never left him.

Although in 1862 a lot of oil was being produced..the combination of a saturated U.S. Market and the Civil War cutting off the export of PA crude to a promising European market made it a profitable time for oil. After his 3 year tour of Duty as a Private in the 16th Pa calvary during the Civil War, Lyman returned to Tittusville in 1865 He was bewildered at the changes that had taken place in the oil industry in his 3 year absence. Better equipment, ways of transporting the black gold as well as population mushroomed with oil seekers. Titusville went from having one Hotel to having 13 and the landscape of this little town was littered with derricks. The rush was onand the once sleepy town had now become a boomtown. A recent veteran with no Capitol to fund another plunge, Lyman was as determined as ever to make his mark in the oil industry and not fall back into his hated career as a tanner.

After a short stint at a Poughkeepsie N.Y. Business college, Lyman returned to Pa in 1866 and opened a tiny office near Tittusville to negotiate oil leases. With some of these wells “coming in” Lyman finally came into profits and by 1868 was considered a well established operator. After many deals that were good and many that were bad, Lyman fell on hard times again in 1869. It seemed every cent he made went to expenses and finally he lost his home and had to become a meager wage earner just to support his Family.

Luck cast its light upon him again in 1877, when a Brother of a friend came in from California to visit Tittusville . That man was named Wallace Hardison. Hardison proposed that they be partners and buy some oil properties. Lyman explaned his embarrassing financial situation and declined the proposal. Hardison didn’t accept this and explaned in so many words that he had the wallet and Lyman had the oil knowledge. With only a handshake sealing the deal, Lyman Stewart and Wally Hardison went on to be friends and buisiness partners for many years to come. After making some money with wells in Btradford Pa, Lyman and Hardison sold out and went their separate ways. Lyman then met up with an old aquaintance I, E. Blake who spoke of the Bounty of California oil underneath the Pacific Coast States crust. This intrigued Lyman and in 1883 Lyman took a train from PA to CA with not much more than a hand held Bible and a dream of more profitable oil investments.

Lyman Stewart landed I Los Angeles at the age of 43 and although he had made almost a million in oil had nearly lost it all on oil as well. Vowing never to go flat broke on a hole in the ground again, unless it was a sure thing. Lyman remained cautious. After thoroughly researching the are, Lyman picked a site on Christian hill in Pic Canyon to drill on. He immediately wired his friend Mr. Hardison and told him of the prospect. Mr Hardisons respect for Lymans knowledge of oil and faith in his judgement made it easy for him to invest $135,000 for their california oil drilling venture.
Shortly after operations began they found it much more difficult to drill for oil in California on account of the rocky soil. Four attempts for profitable wells with no results and to add insult to injury they were losing expensive drill bits on Californias harsh terrane. The partnership faced disasterafter hill #5 was drilled yielding nothing but dirt and rock. They only had funds for one more chance so it had to be a good one. They moved from Christian Hillto Tar Creek. Tar Creek should have been named “Tar Bleek” because it was dry as well. Undonted, these brave oil men use alltheir personal assets to acquire loans to fund more drilling. Well #7 unfruitful..the partners were now DESPERATE. They knew the oil was there it just had eluded them. FINALLY, extremely in debt, lady luck looked their way when #8 struck oil Producing 75 Barrels a day. This was God sent to the partnership because of the many dry wells had taking a toll on not only their wallets but their friendship/partnership as well. Although it was a producer they didn’t have the funds to develop the oil and “star #1 “ was sold to pay off debt and make a new start. Ironically after the sale of Star well #1 production fell to about half and it seems the partnership sold out at a most opportune moment.

With debt satisfied from the sale of star #1 …The partnership bought property in Ventura county. They didn’t have much money but the brazen oil men had charisma and dreams. The adams well in Ventura yeilded small profits but not what they expected so using the small profits from the Ventura wells they set uo in Puente, not far from LA. This is where Lyman Stewart would come up with an innovation that would revolutionize the oil industry. It was standard to use coal to heat the boilers that made steam for powering the drilling rig engine. This proved expensive. Lyman came up with the idea of using the crude to power the engines thus making the whole drilling system self sufficiant. This innovation proved to make Lyman Stewart an oil apostle of California, but his great ideas didn’t stop there he also came up with laying pipeline from wells to refinery which proved to be a giant leap forward for the industry. Although these inventions were spectacular, the partnership was both blessed with success and plagued with failure.

The Hardison Stewart Oil Company was incorporated on Dec 28th 1886. Lyman was pres and Hardison VP. And although the dynamic duo was pumped out 50,000 barrells of oil for that year (nearly 1/7th of all of Californias output) Debt, equipment upkeep bank rolling and rigging and well crews made them finacially starving. Due to constant expansion and debt..the Partnership never seemed to be financially flush. After 7 years of hunting for CA oil, the partnership was still broke. When an Eastern investor offered to buy 49% of the Companies stock boasting they he developed a new refining process that would double the amount of kerosene extracted from California crude…if sucsesful it would revolutionize the Wests oil business. Although they had no cash in hand because of loans and expenses their properties were appraised at $1,800,000 and part of this new deal was that the Hardison & Stewart Oil Co., the sespe Oil Co, and the torrey Canyon Oil Co, merge into one Corporation. This Merger officially happened on October 17th, 1890 and Thus The Union Oil Company of California was Born.
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Here are some early pocket calanders to get us started.



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Hubba the GAS GEEK , OIL FREAK of Shoreline WA

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djhubba
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Posts: 3905
From: Seattle WA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 07-01-2004 02:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for djhubba   Click Here to Email djhubba     Edit/Delete Message





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Hubba the GAS GEEK , OIL FREAK of Shoreline WA

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T-way
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Posts: 1958
From: Riley, MI, USA
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 07-01-2004 06:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for T-way   Click Here to Email T-way     Edit/Delete Message
Guys and Gals:

Here is a custom decal I did for one of the Oldgas members. It's a reproduction of one of the globes/decals used by the company. (Didn't you get a couple of these too Hubba?)

Later . . .

Jim

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http://www.vintage-logos.com

[This message has been edited by T-way (edited 07-01-2004).]

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Lastgas15
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Posts: 4572
From: illinois
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 07-01-2004 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lastgas15   Click Here to Email Lastgas15     Edit/Delete Message
Great so far Hubba!! Can't wait to read the next installment.
Pops

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djhubba
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Posts: 3905
From: Seattle WA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 07-02-2004 03:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for djhubba   Click Here to Email djhubba     Edit/Delete Message
A Decade of Discord

For nearly 10 years the President of Union Oil co. Thomas R. Bard and V.P. Lyman Stewart fueded about almost everything. Mostly on the Philosophy on how the Company should be run. Stewart had a vision and wanted to establish a long lived Company by investing in other oil lands, while Bard wanted to pump crude as fast aspossible and turn it for a quick profit. The upper executives of the Union Oil Co. had inadvertantly formed 2 camps…one that sided with the Stewarts and one that backed Bards Philosophy. Realizing that Stewart had a “nose fro oil” the Board voted that Stewart could purchase land on his hunches as long as it wasn’t over $5.00 an acre. With his leash loosened a bit , Stewart went on an oil land buying frenzy. So much so that it kept the Union Oil Co. on the brink of Bankrupcy and his old friend/partner Hardison deserted him. In 1891 a lawsuit by a San Fransisco Firm calling itself the “Union Oil Company” was thrown out of court because Bard pointed out they weren’t incorporated and in fact THEY had the exclusive rights to the name. There was also a threat around that time by a Pennsylvania firm calling itself the “Union oil Co.” but it quickly faded away when that Company was absorbed by a competitor.
Stewarts buying frenzy paid off when on Feb 28th 1892 “Adams well #28 came in and cam in good gushing Californias biggest strike at that time. After pouring out 40,000 Barrels of oil it finally settled down to a steady 200 barrels a day. Unfortunately in 1893 ,a depression year, prices fell to 25 cents a barrel and the union Oil Co. was hit hard by this. The Financial hardships were only one factor in the struggle for success. The Co founders of the Company were still at each others throats and in 1894 Bard stated he “would do everything in his power to defeat the ambitions of the Stewart Family” . On July 24th 1894, in the Stewarts and Hardisons absents, Bard resigned his position as president of Union and convinced the board to appoint D.T. Perkins. Bards devious maneuver backfired When Stewart and Hardison found out what Bard had done they began campaigning for votes and the very next corporate meeting, Stewart was not only named President of Union Oil but General Manager as well. D.T. Perkins term as President only ran from July to October 1894.
By the age of 58 , Lyman Stewarts daily overseeing of operations and president of the Company had taken its toll for the seasoned wildcatter and in 1898 he resigned his managerial positionand was replaced by his Son, Will Stewart. Will had previously been Unions secretary and had a great knowledge of its day to day operations. After nearly 10 years of fueding with the Stewart Family, Bard made his exit from Union Oil on Dec 18th 1900 and resigned as director.
By the Year 1900, California was emerging as the worlds leading supplier of oil. With Unions Capitol doubling to $10,000,000 and the Stewart Family firmly in place at the helm, the the new decade ahead held promise for this California Corporation.

here are some pump plates , the first being very rare.




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Hubba the GAS GEEK , OIL FREAK of Shoreline WA

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djhubba
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Posts: 3905
From: Seattle WA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 07-02-2004 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for djhubba   Click Here to Email djhubba     Edit/Delete Message
Here is an early shield shaped sign.

A thick metal plate..maybe Tom can tell us it use.

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Hubba the GAS GEEK , OIL FREAK of Shoreline WA

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Tom Stover
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Registered: Oct 2001

posted 07-02-2004 09:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom Stover   Click Here to Email Tom Stover     Edit/Delete Message
Hubba, great job so far buddy!!! I believe the metal plate that you showed was used to stamp ink on the end of crates or cardboard boxes. (That would explain why the word "Union" is backwards & it's curved shape). But right now it makes a great doorstop!!!!

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PLUM_72
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Posts: 107
From: Chicago, IL
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 07-02-2004 09:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for PLUM_72   Click Here to Email PLUM_72     Edit/Delete Message
Cool stuff Hubba! Being new to the old gas hobby, I haven't seen many Union Oil collectibles. It's been a cool learning experience so far. One question, where did the 76 come from? Or am I asking this too early and should wait for the next installment...

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-Dave-
Slowly progressing on a '54 Tokheim 39

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Dick Bennett
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Posts: 6015
From: Santa Paula, Calif
Registered: Oct 2000

posted 07-02-2004 10:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dick Bennett   Click Here to Email Dick Bennett     Edit/Delete Message

Sure would like to find the MINUTE MAN sign on the canopy !
Location unknown.
2nd row [of red & white stripe sheilds] are : U.O.C. OF ARIZONA, U.O.C. OF CALIFORNIA, U.O.C. OF NEVADA and U.O.C.

This is my best guess on the dates that these logo's were used by Union Oil Co.
As Tom knows, I have 100's of NOS printed paper labels, from 1/4oz thru 55gal.
Dick
Santa Paula, Ca.
The Birthplace of Union Oil Co.

[This message has been edited by Dick Bennett (edited 07-02-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Dick Bennett (edited 07-08-2004).]

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5 quart
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From: Stockton NJ USA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 07-04-2004 05:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 5 quart   Click Here to Email 5 quart     Edit/Delete Message
Few Union 5 qts- thanks don

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Wanted 5 quart cans

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Dick Bennett
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From: Santa Paula, Calif
Registered: Oct 2000

posted 07-04-2004 06:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dick Bennett   Click Here to Email Dick Bennett     Edit/Delete Message
A couple of truck signs. "Notice" sign went on dash or between sunvisors. "Home Of U.O.C." went under sign on doors [only 12 were made, according to distributor].

Early greese bucket lid, embossed.

[This message has been edited by Dick Bennett (edited 07-04-2004).]

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djhubba
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Posts: 3905
From: Seattle WA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 07-05-2004 12:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for djhubba   Click Here to Email djhubba     Edit/Delete Message
Stewarts ambition

Lyman Stewarts lust for expansion hadn’t diminished over the years and using Company profits and still borrowing against his assets he continued to expand. In 1891 this expansion not only included oil lands but oil storage facilities on 3 Hawaiian islands that could store 227,000 barrels of crude. A long with storage facilities he had a huge ship built called the Barkentine fullerton which could transport 16,000 barrels to and from the islands. Although they had twice before tried to absorb the Union Oil Co., The Standard Oil company tried again in 1903. They were unsuccessful. Standard wanted Unions refineries, marketing and transportation facilities but the deal fell through when Stewart stipulated as a condition of the sale that 40,000,000 barrels of Union crude also be purchased. Although Union had sold many “producing” wells, it wasn’t until Dec 2nd 1904 when another famous Union Gusher came in. Affectionatly named “Old Maude” it was only by fortunate happenstance this gusher came to be. A Boiler fell off a wagon in the percise spot the well was to be drilled and instead of moving it, which meant a whole day behind schedual, the boss in anger said leave it there and they moved the well over. Little did they know a few yards would “make all the difference in the world”. Old Maude ended up shooting oil 150 feet in the air. Oil was gushing so fast they could hardly contain it. 12,000 Barrels a day for the first 100 days , then a steady 10,000 barrels a day. Old Maude continued to produce for 14 years until some rigging broke and instead of fixing it, crews just moved to a new well 65 feet away. Old maude lay dormant until 1945 when wartime demand for oil was at a peak. No one knew if she would ever produce again but when they fixed the rigging and pump, she went on to yield 175 barrels a day, proving to skeptics the old gal still had it in her.
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Here are some cool building signs


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Hubba the GAS GEEK , OIL FREAK of Shoreline WA

[This message has been edited by djhubba (edited 07-05-2004).]

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djhubba
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Posts: 3905
From: Seattle WA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 07-06-2004 08:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for djhubba   Click Here to Email djhubba     Edit/Delete Message
Year of disaster

Even with all of Old Maudes success as an oil producer, Union Oil Co named the year 1906 “the Year of disaster”. The San fransisco Earthquake had destroyed and Burned Unions storage facilities and records. This delayed work greatly and even more devastation occurred when a large storage tank in portsmouth Oregon exploded taking out the plant and warf. Around that same time the union tanker Santa Rita ran into a bad storm and had to dump much of her cargo just to save the ship. The newly finished Panama pipeline union built turned out to be a white elephant. Although all these incidents were all major set backs, Union went into 1907 optimistcally. While keeping a float financially and continually making Company investments, by the end of 1909 Union held 229,804 acres of oil land.
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Here are some signs..the first being an ultra rare carboard sign that my Buddy Tom Stover saved from being dump fodder.



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Hubba the GAS GEEK , OIL FREAK of Shoreline WA

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djhubba
Moderator

Posts: 3905
From: Seattle WA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 07-07-2004 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for djhubba   Click Here to Email djhubba     Edit/Delete Message
Here is an awesome ORIGINAL wayne 70 Union pump from Tom Stovers amazing collection.. Untouched and Beautiful...check out that original decal.


here ia a trespassing sign.

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Hubba the GAS GEEK , OIL FREAK of Shoreline WA

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gaspower
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Posts: 480
From: Northgate, Washington
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 07-07-2004 11:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gaspower   Click Here to Email gaspower     Edit/Delete Message
Here's a few for my friend Hubba. I've been told the second one is an oil rack sign and the third is a waiting room bench sign.

[This message has been edited by gaspower (edited 07-07-2004).]

[This message has been edited by gaspower (edited 07-09-2004).]

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