Photograph by Larry J. Fischer; Spindletop, across the Rio Brava, 1939
Courtesy Lamar University Digital Library
This is an abandoned band wheel from a cable tool rig used in the early Spindletop days, circ. 1910. This photograph was taken from the south, looking north, toward Gladys City, 40 years after Spindletop's discovery. In the last 1930's there were still rigs running in Spindletop but they were iron, standard derricks looking for deeper Oligocene sands that were pinched out against the wall of the salt dome.
Building wooden wheels is an art, an incredible undertaking that involves many, many hours of soaking wood in water to make bends and proper circumferences, of beautiful wood laminations that then can be bound together by heating and hammering, by blacksmithing iron bands to hold the wood altogether...all designed for a specific purpose in cable tool drilling and uniquely part of our amazing oil history.
There were good men and good women who worked days upon days to build band wheels, bull wheels and calf wheels, who laminated enormous walking beams for cable tool rigs. They took pride in their work. The time alone to build wheels in that era is worth great admiration.
God Bless Texas and the entire American oil industry... for what it use to be.