Part of the huge transportation complex that moves petroleum to world markets. Traffic in oil tankers and barges in Texas mushroomed two months after the state's first oil gusher, "Spindletop," roared in. On March 11, 1901, the first boat to transport the Spindletop product, the "Atlas," left Sabine Pass with about 3,000 barrels of crude oil.
Port Arthur exported one of the earliest large shipments of oil about April or May, 1901, on the "Atlas," and two other vessels. The cargo was bound for the refineries of Standard Oil Company of Philadelphia to be tested for "illuminating" purposes. Many persons then scoffed at the idea of using oil as a fuel.
One year after Spindletop, Texas commerce, formerly based on cattle and cotton had been vastly changed by petroleum. More than half of all ships entering Sabine Pass and Port Arthur were connected with the oil industry. By April of 1902, shipments had already exceeded the 1,750,000 barrels exported in 1901.
By 1902, steamers were burning Texas oil as fuel and the Guffey Petroleum Company had begun to build Texas' first tanker fleet - five ships.
Today the value to Texas' economy of crude oil alone totals more than three billion dollars yearly.