Oil: Bad Days for Wild Ones

In the oil business, the wildcatter is an operator who combines the cunning of a coyote, the nimble independence of a mountain goat and the ornery courage of a longhorn bull. Relying on instinct and experience as often as scientific aids, he drills wells in places where competitors feel sure that he will not find oil. Still, the wildcatters have discovered three-quarters of the producing areas in the U.S., and their exploits have written a rich chapter in the nation's industrial history.

C. M. ("Dad") Joiner, then a septuagenarian wildcatter, opened up the great East Texas oilfields in 1930 when...

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