On Jan. 10, 1870, John D. Rockefeller incorporated what would soon become the most powerful corporation in America (and make him the wealthiest person in the country)—Standard Oil.
Exactly 31 years later, on Jan. 10, 1901, the biggest oil discovery up until then took place near Beaumont, Texas, when a 100-foot drilling derrick delivered a gusher of crude oil. The black goo shot up more than 100 feet above the derrick, called Spindletop, ultimately covering several acres. It took mechanics nine days to figure out how to cap the well and bring its mighty production under control.
And an interesting footnote: The discovery of so much oil in Texas convinced a young engineer in Detroit to bet his future on the internal combustion machine, rather than steam or batteries, to power the contraptions he was starting to build. His name was Henry Ford. And the rest, as they say, is history.