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Giant Under the Hill: A History of the Spindletop Oil Discovery at Beaumont, Texas, in 1901

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Jo Ann Stiles, Judith Linsley, and Ellen Rienstra (Author)


How did they do it? How did a profligate who killed a deputy sheriff before reforming, a mining engineer who went AWOL from the Austrian navy, and three East Texas drillers join forces with other equally colorful characters to drill on Spindletop hill? Giant Under the Hill is a scholarly work firmly rooted in the narrative tradition, a great story intriguingly told by three Beaumont historians: Jo Ann Stiles, Ellen Rienstra, and Judith Linsley. Using material collected over decades, much of it never before published, they bring to life the efforts of Pattillo Higgins, Anthony Lucas, Al and Curt Hamill, and Peck Byrd to master the Spindletop salt dome that culminated in the discovery of the great Lucas gusher. Their find subsequently transformed not only the state of Texas but the entire oil industry. Giant Under the Hill is the definitive story of one of the most significant and colorful moments in Texas history.

Jo Ann Stiles is an associate professor of history at Lamar University.

Judith Linsley is a researcher for the McFaddin-Ward House, a history instructor at Lamar, a newspaper columnist, and editor of The Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record.

Ellen Rienstra is a violinist and historical consultant with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Lamar University.