On April 15, 1897, an event occurred that would forever change the life of those living in Northeast Oklahoma: oil was discovered.
Oklahoma’s first commercial oil well came into production near Bartlesville and was called the “Nellie Johnstone.” This early strike prompted thousands of people to stream into the region in the hopes of becoming rich. Those who drilled wells in hopes of making a strike were called “wildcatters”. The next three decades were filled with these wildcatters, discovery wells, gushers, and boomtowns that made Oklahoma the center of the oil industry. Out of the many boomtowns that sprung up with each new strike, some survived, others vanished quickly, and a very small number thrived to become Oklahoma business centers.