Lufkin Industries founded in East Texas
How It All Started:
The Lufkin Industries Foundry and Machine Company was founded in Lufkin, Texas, as a repair shop for railroad and sawmill machinery.
When the pine region’s timber supplies began to dwindle, the company discovered new opportunities in the burgeoning oilfields following the historic discovery at Spindletop Hill.
Inventor Walter C. Trout was working for this East Texas company in 1925 when he came up with a new idea for pumping oil. His design would become an oilfield icon known by many names – nodding donkey, grasshopper, horse-head, thirsty bird, and pump jack, among others.
By the end of 1925, a prototype of Trout’s pumping unit was installed on a Humble Oil and Refining Company well near Hull, Texas. “The well was perfectly balanced, but even with this result, it was such a funny looking, odd thing that it was subject to ridicule and criticism,” Trout explained.
Thanks to Walter Trout’s invention – the now familiar counterbalanced pumping unit – Lufkin Industries would sell more than 200,000 pump jacks of all sizes. General Electric acquired Lufkin for $3.3 billion in 2013. GE closed and dismantled the foundry in 2015. Learn about early oilfield production in All Pumped Up – Oilfield Technology.