Offshore Oil Drilling on Caddo Lake

In 1910, the first over water (offshore) search for oil began. Pioneering this unique endeavor was the J. M. Guffey Petroleum Company later known as Gulf Oil Company and now Chevron. A Guffey employee had noticed gas seepage bubbling up through the water in Caddo Lake in 1907 therefore; the company leased a thousand acres of land on the Mooringsport side of the lake. Guffey's first well was drilled in 1907 for gas at 800 feet but the first major completion on the property, the Number 1 Hostetter, was brought in on December 8, 1908 with 1600 barrels of oil a day from a depth of 2,282 feet. The Federal Government owned the land at the bottom of the Caddo Lake and auctioned off the drilling rights. Gulf's production chief in Louisiana was able to lease an 8000 acre tract for $100,000 on which more than 250 wells were completed. The world's first true offshore well, the Ferry Lake Number 1, was completed by Gulf in May 1911 producing 450 barrels of oil a day. Gulf repeated the over water drilling many times. Cypress pilings were driven deep into the lake bottom, crude wooden derrick platforms were constructed and drilling equipment boated to the drilling sites on barges as large as 30' x 90'. Wells were cased off to keep the water out and the drilling to production in the Woodbine formation at 2,250 to 2,400 feet. Once completed, oil from a well was piped to tank farms on the nearest point on shore and transferred to a system of gathering pipelines. This was the birth of offshore drilling production around the world. Excursion trains were run from Shreveport so that people could see this phenomenon. Gulf located their business offices in Mooringsport and the community soon became a "boom town" with people moving in from as far away as Pennsylvania to work in the oil fields. These developments resulted in the town having general stores, grocery stores, a skating rink, silent film movie house, hotel, club houses, a bank, restaurants, pool hall, domino parlor, rooming houses, all-night cafes and three drug stores.