Texas Day by Day

On this day in Texas history…

Delta Drilling Company founded

November 17th, 1931

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Image taken at random from the related Handbook of Texas entry, East Texas Oilfield

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.

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