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Delta Drilling Company founded
November 17, 1931

On this day in 1931, the Delta Drilling Company was founded in Longview by four immigrants and a native Houstonian. Fifty years later the company, headquartered in Tyler, was one of the largest land-based, private, contract drilling firms in the world. The partners borrowed $22,000 in the depth of the Great Depression to buy two junk drilling rigs and began drilling in the East Texas oilfield. In the late 1930s and thereafter Delta branched out from East Texas, with operations in the Illinois basin, the Northeast, the Rocky Mountains, Louisiana, the Southeast, West Texas, and South Texas. In 1981 the firm "went public" and began selling its stock over the counter. At its peak Delta operated fifty-nine domestic drilling rigs and six foreign onshore rigs. But an industry-wide economic slump sent Delta into a long trough. In 1989 the firm, now known as DeltaUS, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but emerged a year later under its original name. It owned thirty-five land rigs in East Texas, South Texas, the Louisiana Gulf Coast, and the Appalachian region.

Ohioans come to the aid of Texas with "Twin Sisters"
November 17, 1835

On this day in 1835, the people of Cincinnati, Ohio, decided to aid the cause of the Texas Revolution by raising funds to procure two cannons. Since the United States was taking an official stance of neutrality toward the rebellion in Texas, the citizens of Cincinnati referred to their cannon as "hollow ware." Two guns, probably six pounders, were manufactured at the foundry of Greenwood and Webb in Cincinnati and then shipped down the Mississippi to New Orleans. The cannons arrived in Galveston at the beginning of April 1836, accompanied by the family of a Dr. Charles Rice. The guns were presented to representatives of Texas under the sponsorship of Dr. Rice's twin daughters, Elizabeth and Eleanor. Someone in the crowd made notice of the fact that there were two sets of twins in the presentation, the girls and the guns, and thus the cannons became the Twin Sisters. The guns went into action on April 20, and, under the command of George W. Hockley, supported the infantry assault the next day at the battle of San Jacinto. Along with the Gonzales "come and take it" cannon, the Twin Sisters are among the most famous weapons of the Texas Revolution.

Texas cattlemen propose National Trail
November 17, 1884

On this day in 1884, a cattle industry convention meeting in St. Louis passed a resolution calling upon Congress, "in the interest of cheaper food," to build and maintain a National Trail from the Red River north to the Canadian border. Pushed through by prominent Texas cattlemen, it was an attempt to thwart proposed northern quarantines against Texas cattle. Texas fever, caused by ticks indigenous to the Southwest, had inflicted heavy losses upon the northern range-cattle industry by the early 1880s, and these losses had caused northern cattlemen to lobby for quarantines against infected livestock. Since it was much less expensive for Texas cattlemen to trail their herds to northern railheads and ranges and then ship them by rail rather than ship directly from Texas, most Texans saw these proposed quarantines as a threat to their economic well-being. In the wake of the National Trail proposal, however, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Canada passed quarantine laws against Texas cattle, seriously restricting drives during the regular trailing season. Finally, on January 7, 1886, Texas congressman James Francis Miller of Gonzales introduced the National Trail proposal in the United States House of Representatives. The measure was blocked in the House committee on commerce by northern cattle interests and by Texas railroads, which presumably wanted to replace the trail with rails. The failure of the National Trail, the northern quarantines, and the western migration of farmers and barbed wire sounded the death knell of trailing.

Tick fever helps end cattle-trailing era despite ranchers' efforts
November 17, 1884

On this date in 1884, a prominent group of Texas cattlemen met in St. Louis to attempt to thwart plans of northern interests to quarantine Texas cattle. Texas fever, caused by ticks indigenous to the Southwest, had inflicted heavy losses upon the northern range-cattle industry by the early 1880s, and these losses had caused northern cattlemen (roughly all those north of the thirty-second parallel) to lobby for state and territorial quarantines against infected livestock. The Texans at the St. Louis meeting sought to evade this quarantine by drafting a resolution calling for Congress to build and maintain a National Trail from Doan's Crossing on the Red River through Indian Territory, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Montana. On January 6, 1886, Texas congressman James Francis Miller introduced the National Trail proposal to the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure failed, and northern quarantines, western migration, and barbed wire fences ended cattle trailing.