The Conoco Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma celebrates a history of risk, innovation, and mergers. The museum follows the history of the international petroleum juggernaut from humble beginnings to exceptional growth, acquisitions, and partnerships.
Conoco traces its origin to the Continental Oil and Transportation Company. Continental was founded in 1875 by Isaac Blake and four partners. Based in Ogden, Utah, this early player distributed oil, kerosene, benzene to the western United States. In 1883, Continental distinguished itself by building the first pipeline in California—from Santa Clara to Ventura. It also established the first fueling station in the West when Continental developed a gravity-feed dispensing system for gasoline in 1909.
Continental moved to Ponca City when it was aquired by the Marland Oil Company in 1929, forming the Continental Oil Company. E. W. Marland had established 101 Ranch Oil Company in 1908 and secured his first oil lease in Ponca City. It became Marland Refining Company in 1917 until its merger with Continental once again changed the name.
Even after this merger, as Conoco continues to expand it also merges with additional and increasingly large competitors. By 1950, Continental Oil Company had 8,000 oil wells in the US and Canada and was listed as the eight largest U.S. oil producer. While the name Conoco is already being used casually, the company is officially renamed to Conoco Inc. in 1979. After its acquisition by DuPont in 1981, Conoco IPOs in what was the largest initial public offering (IPO) to date (1998). In 2002, Conoco settles on its most recent name after a merger with Phillips Petroleum Company to form ConocoPhillips.
The Conoco Museum is filled with artifacts spanning this extensive history. Contracts are on display from early deals with native tribes to drill on their land. Portraits of Conoco’s leadership over time are hung in a place of honor. In homage to research and development, there is a display on Conoco’s investments in petroleum technology. Visitors can inspect models of oil platforms demonstrating how oil is extracted from the sea bed along with colorful memorabilia from early service stations. Our favorite is the display on early oil discovery technology—exploding dynamite to locate oil deposits.