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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

The Prize

In the mid-1800’s Lighting the nation was provided by whaling before rock oil was discovered. They would use the oil of the whales to light homes. But whaling was a very expensive obtain, and a very dangerous job. Risking the whales to be almost extinct. The discovery of oil will power up the 20th century and build the modern world. In 1854 though scientist in Pennsylvania found that it could be used for lighting.  The Hamill brothers will discover oil in Texas. No one in the world would ever discover this much oil in the world. The Spindletop would be what the Hamill brothers would be discovered, because of the amount of oil they find.

Pit hole Pennsylvania was the gold rush capital, but only for 500 days. People rushed all over the country to pit hole to get the oil first. To buy land there was in the boom days would go for 2 million dollars. But when pit hole was drained of all its oil, everyone left and the land would sell for $4.35, 12 years later. This made pit hole a ghost town, where once hotels and towns would be thriving. No one was there anymore, they moved on to other places where oil would be thriving.

Rockefeller was able to be successful in business. Some ways were to use intimidation, he used intimidation to scare other refineries. He would tell them that he had the trains, and he had the power. If you don’t join him then you will be put out of business because Standard Oil is where its at, and everyone is buying Standard Oil. This was known as the Cleveland Conquest. So, most of them did give up their refinery and sold to Rockefeller, some didn’t and they went out of business. We call this as a monopoly today. By the times he is done buying out his competitors, he owns 90% of the oil refineries. At 33 years old he becomes the richest man in the country.

Until Edison comes along. Edison has invented the first incandescent light bulb. Which makes Rockefeller Kerosene not so great. The war of light blub verses kerosene is now starting. Rockefeller talks about the danger of having a lightbulb, and how it’s burning down homes. He thinks to hopefully scare the American people. But Edison has J.P Morgan, he pays for the light to be in his home first then everyone can see that people don’t have to walk around hand lighting every candle. That with a flip of a switch you can have light. This also looks very appealing to industrial companies. Despite the fact that it’s it dark outside, you can have things build around the clock. Which looks very good to business owners.


In the 1800s Oil was first produced in the infant stages and was sold at $40 dollars a barrel. Some local people didn’t see oil was of any use. To later find out that it was actually known as “black gold”. In fact, people that accidentally stuck oil in their land. They would be mad. They thought they were cursed with this black goo. Then when there was a use for it and a supply in demand for the black gold. Then people would see they could get rich off this stuff.

Then you can imagine that before long everyone wanted to get a hold of this black gold. People were working hard to get their hands on this oil. Then a big industry bloomed from this. It would pay $15,000 dollars profit for every dollar that was spent going the oil. With the saturation of the industry, it brought the price down. It went from $10 a barrel to .15 cents a barrel, in one year. Because everyone was trying to find oil.

Shipping goods via trains were starting to get expensive. Especially to a penny pincher Rockefeller. When Rockefeller made a deal exclusively with Cornelius Vanderbilt to ship 60 barrels of oil a day, that was something that was risky. Because he was only able to produce half that. He was able to produce Standard Oil, where he was able to calm the public of his clean efficient kerosene. Then he was able to ship his clean kerosene on Vanderbilt’s railroad and ship it to all the homes in the country. Rockefeller knew and skillfully played the railroads against each other. Because he knew and the railroads knew that they needed Rockefeller to ship the oil to still make money. So, the railroads would try the hardest to get Rockefellers business.

When Vanderbilt and Scott formed an alliance. The two biggest railroads come together to pull Rockefellers oil off their trains. This caused a war, so Rockefeller saw an opportunity. He decided to build the first successful oil pipeline. His workers laid a mile in half of the pipeline a day. By the time it’s complete it’s about 4,000 miles long. Connecting thousands of oil wells directly to Rockefeller’s refineries.  He is able to surpass the railroads and ship it directly into the homes. Which at the same time unknowingly revolutionize how oil is transported forever.

Ida Tarbell was going to investigate John D. Rockefeller. She was going to meet him in a baptized church and there he was standing there. She described him as being the oldest man she ever saw. The man made it a point to know he was there. He had so much power and with the power gave Ida the intimidation. Ida was going to do the expose on Rockefeller and people were scared that she was going to be a sellout or they will ruin the magazine. Everyone was scared that something was going to happen to her. Even her father was afraid for her career and even possibly her life. But later she became fascinated almost obsessed with Rockefeller.

While people were drilling for oil, Rockefeller was learning how to refine it. He hired a scientist to refine the oil. Then when he was able to refine the stuff it made kerosene. Something where people were able to use and buy to light their homes. That’s how he was able to make his money. And also, eventually able to sell it and be able to buy his competition. Only at 24 years old he was able to buy his on the refinery.

He was the shipper, manufacturer, producer, marketing these four he decided to be under one roof. Which in those times they had four different companies doing that. He also hired people to go spy on his products. To see where and how much they are being sold and who’s buying them. Rockefeller also had a secret codebook for everything from his name to the company name. He knew everything that was going on in his business. For something that didn’t have a formal education on business. He learned at an early age how to make things work. From selling candy to his classmates to running a big oil empire.

As a devout Baptist, Rockefeller was and clean cut as they come. He didn’t drink, smoke, gamble. He was a very good man, and very generous to his church. Even though he was independently wealthy; he was still doing things for his community. He would visit those that were sick. He even went as far as still teaching Sunday school. He was seen to the most as a very good faithful Baptist, in the community. He donated lots of money and became a philanthropist. Which he still has nonprofits organizations in the present day.

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