Sunday, February 24, 2008

oil is magic

I spent a solid 45 minutes meandering through the Story of Texas Saturday afternoon. By the time I finished the 3rd floor, I felt like I was finally up to speed on the magic of Texas history, along with the 10-year-old kid standing next to me. I guess I forgot to read the Museum's mission statement, including "Support education of school-aged children by creating and providing learning experiences...." Nevertheless, I still found a couple of interesting displays in the end.

The Big Inch pipeline display caught my eye, first by the captions about the magnitude of the project and how quickly it was built and, second, by the strange-looking route the line took to reach the Northeast coast. The facts were short and sweet like everything else in the museum, but at least sparked me to look up more details online. The pipeline began construction in 1942 in the midst of World War II. By 1943, the first crude had been transported through the line from Texas and showed up in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It took only a year to build, but then only functioned for 2 years before it was retired. Off and on for a few years it was attempted to transport natural gas instead of oil, before it was, I guess, finally taken out back and shot. Still, in its short lifetime, it had a capacity to deliver 300,000 barrels of oil a day and was considered by Duke Energy to be "the most amazing government-industry cooperation ever achieved." It really is amazing what the U.S. was able to do in times of war in the middle of the 20th century.

As for the second part of the display that caught my eye, look at the map of the pipeline:

It seemed to take a bit of a roundabout route to the Northeast. On first look, I guess a straight line was avoided to bypass the Appalachian Mountains as much as possible. But on second look, it looks like Tennessee and Kentucky were purposefully avoided. Does anyone have an idea as to why? What kind of politics were at play here, if any?

1 comment:

jason h said...

This is just a guess, but perhaps the pipeline followed the industry along the Mississippi River.