The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983 Page: 282
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Upon arriving in West Texas, the two new partners discovered that
the thirty-day limit on payment of the application fees had almost ex-
pired. No one had expressed interest in the land in the meantime,
however, so at least there was no competition. Pickrell and Krupp
completed new applications with their names instead of Ricker's, re-
filed, and paid the required $43,136. In March, 1919, they were award-
ed oil and gas exploration permits. The next month, the partners
formed the Texon Oil and Land Company.12
While Krupp minded his store, Pickrell took over the task of find-
ing oil. This would not be easy. State law required that he commence
drilling within eighteen months of acquiring a permit, but, because
of the area's reputation as hopeless oil country, Pickrell found that he
could not raise investment capital in Texas. With time running out,
he finally persuaded some investors in New York to back the project,
and returned to West Texas just in time to begin drilling before the
deadline. Some of the investors evidently had not been naive about the
project's chances, and, being Catholic, had asked Pickrell to christen
the drilling rig "Santa Rita," after the Saint of the Impossible.3
Having temporarily overcome his financial obstacles, Pickrell found,
nevertheless, that his difficulties had not ended. Texon's geologist, Dr.
Hugh Tucker, had selected a spot fifteen miles west of the town of Big
Lake, in Reagan County, to spud the well. The country was so desolate
that Pickrell had difficulty keeping men on the job, and was forced to
employ some local cowboys to keep the drill running. Another well
supplying water for the drilling operations went dry, and time was lost
deepening it; meanwhile, drinking water had to be brought in from
San Angelo, seventy-five miles away. Despite these and other problems,
Pickrell persevered. University of Texas students can be thankful that
he did, for on May 28, 1923, Santa Rita blew in, producing about one
hundred barrels a day at 3,038 feet. With this small success, the part-
ners were able to raise more money for further drilling in the area. On
their ninth try, they hit a gusher two hundred feet to the east of Santa
Rita that supplied five thousand barrels a day. Pickrell and Krupp,
Texon, the Permian Basin, and the University were on the way to
Berte R. Haigh are in the archives of the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Midland);
Schwettmann, Santa Rita, 4, claims erroneously that the price was $500.
12Carl Coke Rister, Oil! Titan of the Southwest (Norman, Okla., 1949), 287; Haigh to
D. F. P., Feb. 1, 1982.
13Schwettmann, Santa Rita, 5; Knowles, Greatest Gamblers, 222.
14Rister, Oil!, 287-288; Knowles, Greatest Gamblers, 222-225.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983, periodical, 1982/1983; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/m1/318/: accessed February 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.