Antun Lučić

Sep 9, 1855 - Sep 2, 1921(66)

The discovery of oil

In his plan, Lucic was without any support...

Antun Lučić for local researchers, and Anthony Francis Lucas for foreign researchers, really deserved his honorary bust at the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum in Zagreb, as well as his place in the two hundred most deserving Americans. Namely, this Croat is responsible for the success of the development of the American oil industry as we know it today.

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He was born in Split, and after studying in Trieste, he graduated in mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute in Graz in 1876. Like many Dalmatians of that era, he went to the USA to earn money. From the beginning, he repaired mining machines, which allowed him to get acquainted with mining technology. Only ten years later, he was already managing salt mines in Louisiana. Observing the deposits of this mineral, he noticed parts where he found traces of sulphur, gas and oil.

Not long after, he met Higgins, an amateur geologist, who claimed that there was an oil field near the Big Hill in Texas. He decided to lease part of the land and started drilling. The leading oil geologists of the time did not believe that oil could accumulate near the salt bodies, therefore Lučić was without any support in his plan. Lack of money, difficulties with the advanced and then rare hydraulic rotary drill caused the forced stop of digging, and then the loss of financiers. Lučić's project failed, to the delight of all opponents. Despite this, Lučić was convinced that it was possible to find oil in that area.

He invested all his energy, knowledge and finances in finding a partner and expanding the land. After several months of effort, he managed to collect investments from J.M. Guffey and J.H. Galeyja became a minority partner in his project. This time, he hired the Hamill brothers' company to dig, which worked with a more powerful drill. This continued the unpromising search for liquid treasure from the point of view of the scientific authorities of the time. But the beginning of January, in addition to the new year, also brought an incredible revolution in scientific opinion. And an even bigger revolution in the American oil industry.

Early in the morning, on January 10, 1901, at a depth of about 350 meters, a historic oil vein was reached for America. The 60-meter-high eruption lasted nine days, during which almost 16,000 m³ of oil leaked out. The discovery of the Texas oil field made the USA the world's leading oil producer, which finally overtook the then-leading Russia. The Spindletop area is still a US National Historic Landmark today. A mausoleum was built with an inscription that reads - On this place, on the tenth day of the 20th century, a new era of civilization began.

The enterprising Lučić earned the nickname Captain Lucas because of his achievements. With his later research activities, he also contributed to the economic branches of rock salt and sulfur production. After his discoveries, oil became the most important industrial energy source. This changed the way and lifestyle of the entire world's population, and one barba from Split is responsible for all of this.

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