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Historic World War II pipelines sold

November
14
1947

On this day in 1947, the Big Inch and Little Big Inch, two strategic pipelines laid during World War II from East Texas to the Northeast, were sold by the U.S. government to a private company. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes realized as early as 1940 that shipment of petroleum to the Northeast by tankers would be impossible in time of war because of German submarines. In 1941, at Ickes's urging, oil industry executives began to plan the building of two pipelines. One, twenty-four inches in diameter, called the Big Inch, transported crude oil. The other, twenty inches in diameter, called the Little Big Inch, transported refined products. The Big Inch ran from Longview to Southern Illinois, thence to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Twenty-inch lines continued from there to New York City and Philadelphia. The Little Big Inch began in the refinery complex between Houston and Port Arthur and ended in Linden, New Jersey. Together the pipelines carried over 350 million barrels of crude oil and refined products to the East Coast before the war in Europe ended in August 1945.

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