PETROLEUM 163. The uses of petroleum.—Every week several big steamships called tankers sail out of the Gulf of Mexico. They are full of oil, which is bound for Philadelphia, New York, and many foreign countries such as England and France. When we see the automobile whizzing past, or the airplane gliding far overhead, or think of the submarine diving under the sea, we should think also of the tank steamship with its load of crude petroleum. From this thick, dark oil the refinery makes gasoline for automobiles and engines, kero sene for lamps, oil for greasing machinery, and many other useful things. The oil from the ports of the Gulf of Mexico helped run the motor trucks and the airplanes for the allied armies in the World War. It drives the tractors and harvesting ma chines which help to feed our own people and those of Europe.
164. Oil is found in the rocks down deep in the earth. Men get it out by drilling a well until oil is reached, when sometimes the oil spurts out like sodawater from a bottle.
165. Oil single well will sometimes yield enough oil to make a man rich.. His good fortune starts his neighbors to drilling wells. They may find no petro leum; but, if they do, a town may spring up as quickly as a mushroom. The town of Ranger, Texas, had four hundred people when the first well yielded oil. Only a year later it had forty thousand people.
Sometimes oil towns are abandoned almost as quickly as they grow, for even the best oil well finally stops yielding, and the people leave the oil towns.
Sometimes natural gas comes with the oil. It will burn with great heat and is the finest fuel in all the world. Sometimes it is allowed to waste; sometimes it is carried in pipes to neighboring towns to make lights, to heat stoves, and to run engines. Enough good natural gas has been allowed to waste in northern Louisiana and in other states to heat all the houses in a city for many years.
166. Oil fields and pipe recent years, people have been finding one oil field after another in Mexico, Texas, Lotiisiana, Oklahoma, and the part of Kansas near those states. After each discovery of oil comes a rush of people. Tents and shacks are put up in the fields. Wagons loaded with engines and pipes and lumber come from the nearest railroad, and thousands of barrels of oil are soon being hauled to the station, where the oil is emptied into tank cars. There is a cheaper
way of carrying the oil if there is plenty of it. This way is by laying a line of pipe from the oil field to a city or to the sea coast. (Fig. 168.) For hundreds of miles the pipes go in straight lines, over hills and across valleys, up one side of a mountain and down the other. The pipes'are six or eight or even ten inches in diameter, and from time to time they run through big engine houses where are the pumps which drive the oil along through the pipes.
The oil fields of Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma have furnished much oil in recent years, but for a time Illinois, and then California, led all the states. A great deal of oil has also been sent to Europe from the Mexican port of Tampico, a town not far from the boundary of Texas. (Fig. 269.) Most of the wells in Mexico have been managed by English companies, with Mexicans doing the larger part of the work.
167. Oil refineries.—An oil refinery is a wonderful place. There workmen take thick brown or yellowish oil, and make from it gasoline, kerosene, machine oil, Christmas tree candles, vaseline, and many, many other things.
Some of the oil from the South Central States goes in pipe lines to the oil refineries of Fort Worth, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Chicago. Some of it goes in tank steamers to the refineries of Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Europe. Some kerosene goes from American refineries in five-gallon cans all ready for the family lamps of the people in China, Japan, and the islands of the sea. (Fig. 485.) These five-gallon cans are handy to be carried on the backs of donkeys or camels over the hills and moun tains in countries where there are no roads.
168. Russian oil many years the United States has produced more oil than any other country in the world. Russia: has been second in the amount pro duced. The rich Russian oil field is located on the shore of the Caspian Sea, at the end of the Caucasus Mountains, near the town of Baku. (Fig. 315.) For many centuries, fire worshippers made long journeys to this oil field to worship the little flames that flickered around the rocks where the natural gas escaped and burned. Now oil is shipped from this region to different parts of Europe where people burn it in lamps and stoves, or make gasoline for automobiles.