Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wildcatter's Son

Many memorable characters searched for black gold in early-Oklahoma, but none more colorful than Tom Slick. Slick came from the oil fields of Pennsylvania to drill for oil in Oklahoma. He was a true “wheeler dealer,” finding new and innovative ways of securing leases from reluctant mineral owners and raising money from investors. Most of all, he had a special knack for finding oil.

Tom Slick, Sr. earned the title, King of the Wildcatters, when he drilled the discovery well for the giant Cushing Field in 1912. He died at the age of forty-six, but not before selling his Oklahoma holdings to Prairie Oil and Gas Company for – what was at the time – a vast sum of money. He left fifteen million dollars to his son, Tom Slick, Jr., who by all accounts was perhaps even more colorful than his father.

Tom, Jr. also led an interesting life and knew many celebrities on a first-name basis. Among them were Howard Hughes and Jimmy Stewart. During his life, he founded Slick Oil, Slick Airways, Texstar, Transworld Resources and two research institutes. His passion, however, was the study of cryptids – creatures unknown to science.

Tom, Jr. financially backed expeditions to find Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, though perhaps his search for the Abominable Snowman is the most bizarre. He financed an expedition to Tibet, supposedly in search of Yeti. The expedition coincided with the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese and the ouster of the Dalai Lama. Supposedly, Tom, Jr. worked with the CIA and helped spirit the Dalai Lama out of Tibet before the Chinese could capture him. Tom, Jr. died in a plane crash in 1962 after losing most of his fortune.

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