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Red Fork Oil / Metric Fords

June 28, 2000

Historian's Notes

For many years Tulsa was considered the oil capital of the world. I consider the oil discovery at Red Fork to be the beginning of Tulsa's rise to international acclaim and so felt that the event should be an Almanac subject.

The introduction of metric measurements in the Ford line of automobiles is amusing. The Mustang II was intended to be the start of an immediate switch to metric. Twenty-seven years now and still waiting!

Resources for "Red Fork Oil":

The Angie Debo Papers are held at OSU's Special Collections & University Archives.

Resources for "Metric Fords":

Tulsa World. June 1974.

Almanac Transcript

Hello, I'm Steven Kite welcoming you to the Oklahoma Audio Almanac where we turn the pages of history to bring you the stories of our state's past.

It was ninety-nine years ago this week that drillers struck oil in the settlement of Red Fork just across the Arkansas river from Tulsa. For many years Tulsa, Oklahoma was considered the oil capital of the nation if not the entire world, and it was this first well at Red Fork in 1901 that started Tulsa on its path to fame and fortune. Doctors JCW Bland and Fred Clinton had legal access to Creek tribal land and eventually persuaded drillers to make a test on some acreage owned by Dr. Bland. At 537 feet the drill crew hit a gusher shooting oil into the air and onto headlines across the nation. Petroleum workers from around the country poured into Tulsa seeking drilling rights, leases or any information on the newly discovered field. The community of Red Fork is now completely absorbed into the larger Tulsa metropolitan area, but it was the small town and the discovery made there ninety-nine years ago that gave the oil capital of the world it's start.

Shade Tree Mechanics of Oklahoma list 1974 as one of the most frustrating years in the history of the business. It was twenty six years ago this week that the first autos utilizing metric measurements made their way from Detroit to Oklahoma. The Ford Mustang II for 1974 featured a 2.3 liter engine instead of the standard 140 cubic inch power plant, and a piston stroke of not 3.781 inches but 79.4 millimeters. Ford executives stated with the release of the new Mustang in 1974 that the next few years will be trying for most people as the United States completes its transition to the metric system. Just how trying the transition would be was evident by the statement of one Ford executive that his new car could achieve 10 liters to the kilometer, roughly the equivalent of three gallons to the mile...and that's what happened this week in Oklahoma history.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the OSU Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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