Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Black Gold

U.S. Route 50, Capon Bridge, West Virginia, June 2013

Rolleiflex SL-66, Zeiss Planar 80mm/f2.8

Kodak Ektar 100 film

Oil. It's been a part of our history for generations. Rockefeller provided the nation with fuel for lamps and streetlights and then figured out how to use the "trash" as fuel for the horseless carriage. We have fought wars over it, rejoiced in the finding of it, cringed over the prices of it, all in the name of convenience and demand. 

Gulf Oil, or the company that we know as Gulf oil, was started in 1901 after the discovery of oil at Spindletop, near Beaumont, Texas. A group of investors, the largest being William Larimer Mellon of Pittsburgh Mellon banking family, joined forces to promote the development of a modern refinery in the nearby Port Arthur to help process the oil. 

Spindletop's output peaked early on at 100,000 barrels per day. The early peak and decline forced Gulf to find alternative sources of supply to sustain its substantial investment. The effort to do so resulted in the construction of a 400-mile pipeline connecting oilfields in Oklahoma with Gulf's refinery at Port Arthur. This pipeline was known as the Glenn Pool pipeline. 

The distinctive Gulf logo was an assurance of sorts for the "name brand" oil so people purchasing it knew they were getting good quality gasoline. At this time in the United States, non-branded gasoline was often contaminated or of unreliable quality. 

This photo shows a sign, though old and worn and riddled with holes, that defined a company. Logos are an influential part of today's society and oftentimes a logo is literally the first and last impression people get from a company. A brown and gold shield, a white eagle on a blue background, a blue oval or a red target. All these signs are what influence us and stay as reminders in our mind. 

Gulf oil may not be in its hayday anymore, but the distinctive orange sign will always be associated with it.