Kansas has long been oil country. There are legends that Indians held council around the lights of burning springs. Emigrants, it is known, skimmed "rock tar" from such oil seeps to grease the axles of their wagons.
A mile southeast is the site of one of the most famous oil wells in the United States, Norman No. 1, first commercially successful well of the Mid-Continent field. It was drilled in 1892 by W. M. Mills of Pennsylvania. Within 22 days, at 832 feet, the hole began filling with oil. Mills plugged it, reporting a poor well and began to drill another. Then he hurried to Pittsburgh with samples. These so galvanized operators Guffey and Galey that they leased a million acres, while Norman No. 1 and its secret remained plugged for ten months. In the next two years they drilled over 100 wells, then sold out to Standard Oil.
Oil was first drilled in Kansas in 1860, near Paola, but the sinking of Norman No. 1 began the continuous development of the Mid-Continent field, the nation's largest, which spreads over Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.