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Anthony F. Lucas the father of Petroleum Engineering entering into the history of cooking
By Nenad N. Bach and Darko Žubrinić | Published  12/23/2022 | Environment , Entertainment , Education , Companies | Unrated
Possibilities of usage of petroleum in cooking

With this article, we wish a Merry Christams and a Happy New Year
to all the readers of the CROWN!

Anthony F. Lucas (Antun Lučić, 1855-1921), born in the city of Split, Croatia, the father of Petroleum Engineering

Possibilities of usage of petroleum in cooking

An excerpt from the book

Reyd Sayers McBeth: Pioneering the Gulf Coast; a story of the life and accomplishments of Capt. Anthony F. Lucas, New York 1918; reprinted and revised by INA Naftaplin in Zagreb, 1998, ISBN 953-96949-5-7, translation into Croatian - Antun Lučić, Začetnik traganja za naftom na obali meksičkog zaljeva, ISBN 953-96949-4-9


Today [in the beginning of the 20th century; DŽ] the Gulf Coast, California and the Mexico fields are regarded as the principal sources of fuel oil in the United States. Captain Lucas' well at Spindle Top disclosed the fact that there were available great stores of this most valuable of fuels within easy reach of shipping seaports on the Gulf Coast, from where the oil could be transported by water to points on the Atlantic sea-board. Today scores of cargo vessels plying the Atlantic burn under their boilers oil from the Gulf Coast territory. Also the naval fuel board program adopted by the United States Government in 1901 specifies that all the vessels shall be equipped for the burning of oil as fuel. Railroads in increasing numbers are using it, and manufacturers are substituting it for coal and gas. Fuel oil is therefore rapidly becoming the most sought after, either its by-product or the crude petroleum as produced from the well.

Not only has oil from the coastal fields proved of immense value for the production of fuel oil, but there are refined from it excellent illuminants and lubricants. It is even used extensively for medicinal purposes. An excellent illustration of the possibilities of this petroleum was provided at a dinner given at Port Arthur, Tex., in 1901 to the directors of a large producing and refining company. A special salad was served with some show of ceremony and, after the guests had partaken of it, the toast-master asked them for their gastronomic opinions. The verdict was favorable - unanimously so. They then were informed that the oil used on the salad was not a ' 'Lucca oil," but a "Lucas oil" - the product of Spindle Top, refined and colored to an excellent representation of the finest Italian olive oil.

Captain Lucas has seen his vision develop from an intangible thing, that was branded by some scientists and business men as impossible of realization, into a mighty force of reality, involving the investment of millions upon millions of dollars of solid capital and proving an enormous source of wealth. His theories, labeled at first as exalted imagination, opened to capital one of the nation's greatest storehouses of riches. His reward, like that of all pioneers, has not been great wealth, but the pride of accomplishment -€” the pride one must feel who has proved a theory by practical results.



Anthony F. Lucas (Antun Lučić). The duration of this video is 1 hour.
The first part is a lecture of Professor Jo Ann Stiles (expert in the Texas history), in which she describes Anthony F. Lucas.

A short biography of Anthony F. Lucas

Antun Lucic (Luchich, americanized name is Anthony F. Lucas; born in Split 1855, died in Washington 1921) is the father of petroleum industry. He discovered the first major gusher in Texas, The Lucas gusher, flowing at the rate of 80,000 to 100,000 barrels per day. It blew in January 1901. About 50,000 people came to see it. This meant the earliest massive exploitation of oil and petroleum in the world. Antun Luc[Janko Herak, pp. 35-43]ic, known as Anthony F. Lucas (F. = Francis is after his grandfather Franjo, mariner and shipbuilder from the island of Hvar in Croatia; see [Josko Kovacic, p. 62-64]) believed that the nearby Spindletop hill, near the town of Beaumont, covered a vast pool of oil. His company became one of the first oil companies in Texas. Antun Lucic was a mining engineer who completed his studies at the Polytechnic institute in Graz, Austria, where also his fellow countryman Nikola Tesla later studied. By 1902, as many as 285 wells were operating on Spindletop Hill and over 600 oil companies had been chartered (the population of Spindletop sprang from 8,000 in 1901 to 60,000 in 1902, i.e. in just a year!). In this way Captain Anthony Lucas enabled the United States to surpass Russia as the world's leading oil producer. With the Lucas gusher, a black-gold rush began, and fortune-seekers from all over the world poured into Texas. Over time, Houston became a center of the oil industry, and a captive of the British-dominated global oil cartel.

Lucas gusher, 1901 (

...This picture was taken four days after the oil began to gush. The well went wild for ten days, pouring approximaly 800,000 barrels of oil, and making an oil lake covering some 100 acres of land, before Captain Lucas was able to cap it. Great quantities of oil went as far as Port Arthur, sixteen miles below, on the coast. see [Soric, p 97])

Anthony Lucas (Antun Lucic) invented the so called "Christmas tree", which is the system of valves and pipes installed on the wellhead to harness a gusher. The "Christmas tree" is connected to the piping for transportation or storage of oil.

Christmas tree invented by Anthony Lucas
in order to harness a gusher (photo from [McBeth])

Anthony Lucas and drilling crew,
photo from Math/Science Nucleus for children

Spindle Top, congestion of derrics in 1901-1902 (photo from [McBeth])

Antun Lucic (Anthony Lucas) on the left (photo from [McBeth])

The naval fuel board program adopted by the USA Government in 1901 specified that all the vessls should be equiped for the burning of oil as fuel. Railroads in increasing number were using it, and manufacturers were substituting it for coal and gas. At that time the automobile industry just began to develop, and the importance of Lucic's discovery for its further expansion was enormous.

Spindle Top in 1902. A forest of derricks, the might of America, erected around the original Lucas well.

Antun Lucic is also considered to be the founder of modern petroleum reservoir engineering. He was consulting engineer in USA, Russia, Mexico, Algeria, and Romania.

Some of the most important inventions of Anthony F. Lucas, that are still in use, are:

  • overhead method of mining in salt mines
  • surface exploration of underground mineral deposits
  • application of hydraulic rotary rig in oil well drilling
  • construction and application of back pressure valve
  • use of clay for drilling fluids
  • construction of blowout, so called "killing" equipment
  • designing of well logs

As an expert in mining he was elected the life long chairman of the American Committee for Oil and Gas (later called Petroleum Division, more information). In 1936 The American Institute for Geological and Metallurgical Investigations founded a prize named after him: Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal.

Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal

A museum with 18 m high granite obelisk was built in honour to the Lucas gusher in Spindletop. There is also 1,5 m granite monument of Lucic with inscription saying that his discovery revolutionarized industry and transport,... and changed lives of people in the whole world.

18 m granite obelisk in honour

18 m high granite obelisk, built in honour
to the Lucas gusher, Spindletop, contains the following lines:

On This Spot
on the Tenth Day of the
Twentieth Century
a New Era
in Civilization Began

Petroleum has revolutionized industry and transportation; it has created untold wealth, built cities, furnished employment for hundreds of thousands, and contributed billions of dollars in taxes to support institutions of government. In a brief span of years, it has altered man's way of life throughout the world. (see [Soric, p 99])

In 1943 Lucas' son and daughter-in-law established charitable foundation in his name.

Antun Lucic (Anthony F. Lucas)

Antun Lucic (Anthony F. Lucas) is placed among 200 of most deserving Americans in the course of the entire history of the USA. There are a street and an Elementary school bearing his name in the City of Beaumont, Texas.

Today we can proudly claim that the father of the oil industry in America, if not in the entire world, was a Croatian immigrant, Captain Anthony F. Lucas (Lucic), and that he has set into motion the modern oil industry, which, to the time of Lucas' discovery of oil, was claimed to be desert land and worthless sand. (see [Soric, p 105])

The importance of Antun Lucic - Anthony F. Lucas for the development of petroleum engineering worldwide is analogous to that of Nikola Tesla (also born in Croatia) for the development of electrical engineering.

As to his nationality, it is often mistakenly described as Austrian, and sometimes even Italian (like in Who is Who in America, where there is also another mistake - that he was born in Trieste). On his grave in Rock Creek, Washington, he is said to be of Illiric origin, where Illiric is a standard name for Croatian. For more information about Anthony Lucas see here, and also

Many thanks to Mr. Vedran Joseph Nazor, USA, and to prof.dr. Nediljka Međimurec, Mining-Geological-Petroleum Faculty (RGN) of the University of Zagreb, for their help to collect data about Antun Lucic.

Source: History of Croatian Science

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