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100 years ago in Spokane: After oil appears in basement, oil fever hits South Hill in big way

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 27, 2021

Four different corporations already were drilling or preparing to drill on Spokane’s South Hill, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Sept. 28, 1921  (Spokesman-Review archives)
Four different corporations already were drilling or preparing to drill on Spokane’s South Hill, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Sept. 28, 1921 (Spokesman-Review archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Oil fever was unabated on the South Hill.

Four different corporations already were drilling or preparing to drill. The Spokane Daily Chronicle ran a map showing that all four drilling sites were near Southeast Boulevard, between 10th and 15th avenues.

This was near the house that kicked off this oil-seeking frenzy. A family in that house discovered oil seeping into the cellar.

Some experts believed this meant the South Hill was sitting on a vast underground oil deposit.

Visions of instant riches swept the South Hill.

However, other experts believed that the oil had seeped in from a nearby gas station tank.

This did not deter the newly formed Home Oil and Gas Co., which had secured the rights to 11 acres of South Hill land (part of which now is owned by the city of Spokane and used for a water reservoir).

The president of the company, J. Hanson Hussey, said they were fortunate to get this land.

“Our land is across the street from the original oil seepage where the Eastern Washington Oil Co. has let a contract to drill,” Hussey said. “We expect to have our derrick completed in 10 days and to be drilling in less than 30 days.”

The Home Oil Co. consisted entirely of local men.

Oil fever was not entirely confined to the South Hill. E.W. Conrad of Spokane said he was preparing to build an oil rig near Whitworth College, in an area called Spokane Estates.

Conrad already was drilling in the Rockwood district.

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