TWISTED DRILL PIPE FROM A BLOW OUT!
Crack open a 1935 copy of The Houston city directory and under oil well firefighters you will find only two names.
Myron Kinley and H.L. Patton held the distinct privilege of being the ones to call when you had bad trouble in the oil patch. Those two early pioneers not only had the brains to figure out extreme solutions surrounding a blowout but possessed the pure grit and determination to follow through and successfully complete the job.
Myron Kinley was the dean of this special slice of the oil industry and his company trained the legends of modern wild well control. Red Adair, “Boots” Hansen and “Coots” Matthews were all well schooled by Myron Kinley on oil fire fighting.
Then there was H.L. Patton.
H.L. PATTON AT HUGHES TOOL WITH HIS MANIFOLD
H.L. PATTON IN THE FIELD WITH HIS MANIFOLD
A home grown east Texas man who’s family lived near Splendora in Montgomery County north of Houston. Born in 1889, timber and real estate development occupied most of H.L. Patton’s time. Opportunity came knocking by the way of Patton’s fateful encounter with a burning well near Conroe in 1932. In the field Patton developed a make shift manifold and extinguished the well that had been burning for two weeks. A new carrier was born that would take Patton out of the piney woods of east Texas far south to the oil fields of La Paz Venezuela. Patton’s journey as an oil well fire fighter would cost him dearly over the years. He would end up losing his right arm and his brother W.H. Patton fighting a gas well blowout that was spewing 250,000,000 cubic feet of natural gas a day on Vermillion bay. Patton continued to fight fires and cap wells up until the 1950’s when he retired back to his previous life of a land developer. He formed the town of Patton village in just north of Houston 1966. H.L. Patton died at the ripe old age of 100. He cheated death hundreds of times doing a job that few had the guts or bravery to tackle.
The following photographs offer a very rare glimpse into the dangerous and sometime fatal profession of the oil well firefighters of H.L. Patton and Company based in Houston Texas. Images of blowouts, raging oil well fires and cratering pits illustrate just how difficult the task of wild well control is. Superman was not the only person with nerves of steel!
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