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Five Million in Royalties from Wyoming

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

In a Feb. 10, 1922 issue of the Greybull Standard, the following was reported. 

In the two years of the operation of the oil land leasing act more than $5,000,000 in royalties have been poured into the coffers of the United States Treasury at Washington, D.C. from the oil lands of Wyoming.

These figures, secured from the general land office by Joseph C. O’Mahoney, were announced by him here today. They showed that the receipts of the government under the leasing act of Feb. 25, 1920, on account of royalties, bonuses and rentals accruing in this state up to Jan. 31, 1922, amounted to $5,058,077.93, and that in last December alone their total was $309,368.47.

Data for the same period in California, but including the revenue from the naval reserves in that state, showed a two-year total of $8,453,605.97. Excluding these reserves, the amount stood at $4,664,964.50.

Figuring only those government lands outside of the navy tracts, therefore, Wyoming produced a greater royalty to the government than did California. The Teapot Dome is the only reserve in this state, and it has not yet been developed. When the work is fully opened up there, it is predicted, the field will prove to be a fertile one, so that Wyoming’s grand total in royalties will at least equal those of the coast state.

O’Mahoney returned the first of the week from Powell, where he appeared in litigation over the McMahon Gas Field, and left today for Denver, from which city he will go to Washington, according to the Cheyenne Tribune.

According to, a project of the Wyoming State Historical Society, an article entitled “The Oil Business in Wyoming” by University of Wyoming History Professor Phil Roberts adds to the story below. 

The early 1920s were the heyday of Wyoming oil production and refining. Numerous wells were in production in the Big Horn Basin, Oregon Basin, Elk Basin, Greybull, Garland and Grass Creek fields. In eastern Wyoming, the Lance Creek Field near Lusk was one of the state’s largest, causing the town of Lusk to grow to an estimated population in excess of 5,000 people by the early 1920s.

By 1923, Casper alone boasted five refineries – the tiny Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Company facility on South Center Street built in 1895; the Belgo-American refinery later known as the Midwest Refinery built east of Highland Cemetery in 1903; the giant Standard Oil Refinery in southwest Casper, opened in March 1914 and expanded in 1922 into the largest gasoline-producing refinery in the world; the Texaco Refinery, three miles east of Casper that opened in 1923; and the small White Eagle Refinery opened the same year.

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