Chronicles of Oklahoma

Skip Navigation

Electronic Publishing Center
Oklahoma Historical Society
Chronicles Homepage
Search all Volumes
Copyright 2001
Purchase an Issue

Table of Contents Index Volume List Search All Volumes Home

Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 6, No. 1
March, 1928

Chas. N. Gould

Page 69

The following statement from Chas. N. Gould, Director Oklahoma Geological Survey, carries so much of startling information concerning the mineral resources of Oklahoma, information not so readily obtained elsewhere, that we are giving it space in Chronicles of Oklahoma, so you may be advised as to the facts concerning the possibilities of our resources in the matter of minerals. If we acquaint ourselves with these figures, it will increase our admiration for the state in which we live.

We thank Mr. Gould for this compilation of interesting figures showing the natural wealth of our great state, and request that he furnish other items of interest that he may have touching the natural resources of our domain.

J. Y. B.


This amount of money is realized each year from the minerals taken from Oklahoma’s vast store of natural resources. This sum represents an average of approximately $250.00 in mineral wealth annually for each person in the State. In no other equal area on the surface of the globe is so large a per capita income derived from the native mineral resources.

From 1901 to 1926, the yearly value of mineral products in Oklahoma increased from $4,000,000 to $569,500,000, an increase of 14,500 per cent, the greatest increase of any State during the present century. Oklahoma ranked 35th in the value of new mineral wealth in 1901. Our State is now ranked in second place as a result of this rapid 25 year advance.

Oklahoma’s Rank

At the end of the first quarter of the Twentieth century, Oklahoma ranks, among the States in the Union, as follows:

First in petroleum and its allied products.

First in zinc.

Second in total value of mineral wealth.

Third in total yearly value of crops and minerals, being exceeded in this regard only by Texas and Pennsylvania.

In a little more than two decades by leaps and bounds Ok-

Page 70

lahoma has passed the other states until she has attained her present high rank.

The total value of the manufactured articles in Oklahoma approximates $400,000,000 per year. It is doubtful if another state in the Union can show such balanced industries; namely, in round numbers, $500,000,000 new wealth per year from minerals, $450,000,000 from products of the soil, and $400, 000,000 from manufactured articles.

Of Oklahoma’s more than $500,000,000 of mineral wealth, something like 94 per cent is derived from petroleum, natural gas and natural gas gasoline. At the present rate of production, namely 179,195,000 barrels of oil, and 286,421,000 thousand cubic feet of gas per year, these products will ultimately be exhausted. Far-sighted men, looking toward Oklahoma’s future, are anxiously inquiring, “What has Oklahoma to fall back on to maintain her present high rank when the oil and gas are all gone?”

The Dormant Minerals

The answer is not difficult. Oklahoma has both a very large amount and a very great variety of undeveloped mineral wealth.

This is the catalogue of our State’s mineral resources, exclusive of oil and gas:

Coal: 79,000,000,000 tons—enough at the present rate of mining to last for 26,000 years.

Asphalt: unnumbered millions of tons— enough to furnish paving material for all the streets and public roads of Oklahoma.

Zinc: large commercial deposits. One county in Oklahoma now produces more zinc each year than all other states combined.

Gypsum: 123,000,000,000 tons—enough to keep 100 mills busy for 34,000 years.

Glass Sand: enough to make all the glass of the world.

Lead: very large amounts, much of which is associated with zinc in ore bodies.

Salt: enough salt water going to waste to make 100 car loads of salt a day, besides vast bodies of rock salt.

Limestone: enough to burn all the lime, and furnish all the crushed rock for America.

Portland Cement Rock: enough to supply a dozen states.

Page 71

Clay and Shale: enough to burn all the brick, sewer tile, and other clay products for the world.

Granite: enough to supply the building and monument trade of the country.

Sandstone, Gravel and Building Sand: enough to supply the West.

Novaculite: enough to supply the jeweler’s trade of the world. Besides large amounts of such other known minerals as Tripoli, Marble, Volcanic Ash and smaller amounts of Iron and Manganese, and we suspect the presence of large deposits of the valuable fertilizer, Potash.

Now check back over this list and note that the minerals that have been so briefly enumerated are the essential minerals—fuels, metals, structural materials, salt. They are the very minerals which in fact form the basis of modern civilization and industry. Having these things, any state is bound to develop; but lacking them any state is handicapped in her growth.

All these belong to the people of Oklahoma. Nature has dowered this state with these valuable resources. It is pertinent to ask: What are we doing with them? and the answer must be: As yet, very little.

Oklahoma leads the states of the Union in the production of oil, gas, natural gas gasoline and zinc. Production of these four items alone in 1926 was valued at $538,385,000, or more than the total value of all minerals produced in the State in 1925. Lead and coal, next in importance, added $20,343,049 to these figures, or 9.8 per cent of the total mineral wealth of the State from these six items, leaving only 2 per cent of the total from the vast undeveloped sources of potential wealth.

Future development of many industries in Oklahoma is forecast by the rapidly growing centers of population, the unexcelled variety of scenery within the borders of the State, good railway connections with the northern and eastern markets and the Gulf Coast ports, the rapid completion of an extensive system of good roads, and the fact that thousands are being attracted each year to this State with its mild but varied climate, industrial possibilities and agricultural resources.

Undeveloped Resources

What of the other minerals? With 79,000,000,000 tons of coal resources, we are mining less than 3,000,000 tons a

Page 72

year. With asphalt galore we are utilizing practically none. Two-thirds of the gypsum plaster used in Oklahoma comes from Arkansas and Texas, and much of our glass sand comes from Missouri. Our table salt and stock salt come from Kansas, Michigan, Texas and New York. Practically all of our lime comes from Missouri and Arkansas. Much of our building stone comes from Indiana, and much of our Portland cement from other states. Our sewer tile comes from Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas. The granite which was used for the steps of the state capitol at Oklahoma City came from Minnesota. We even use Wisconsin and Vermont granite and Georgia marble to mark the graves of our dead.

As long as these minerals lie dormant, while we import products manufactured from them from other states, they are not doing Oklahoma any good. They do not add to our taxable wealth. They do not contribute to the revenues of the State.

What is the Geological Survey?

The Oklahoma Geological Survey is authorized by constitutional provision, and is functioning under a State law. It was organized in July, 1908. From the beginning its sole object has been to encourage the development of Oklahoma’s minerals, and while no one would dare to intimate that the Survey alone is responsible for all of the wonderful developments of the mineral resources of the State during the past two decades, there can be no doubt that the Survey has started and fostered a great part of this development. The Survey has primed the pump.

This, then, is the work of the Oklahoma Geological Survey: first, by research and study and field work to locate these valuable resources; second, to map and chart them and estimate their amount and value; third, to prepare and publish reports calling the attention of the world to Oklahoma’s resources; fourth, to aid in every legitimate way in the development of the State’s wealth.

In other words, the purpose of the Oklahoma Geological Survey is to increase the taxable wealth of Oklahoma by aiding development of the State’s mineral resources.

By developing the mineral wealth, and thus increasing the value of taxable property, the revenues of the State will be proportionately increased. The Survey stands in the same

Page 73

relation to the mineral resources of the State as the Department of Agriculture does to the agricultural resources.

What Oklahoma Needs

What Oklahoma needs today is more factories, more workmen and larger payrolls. The raw material is here. The fuel is here with which to manufacture it. The market is here. Over two million people, active, energetic, progressive, are anxious to utilize the various mineral products, but because of the fact that we are not yet manufacturing mineral resources these people are compelled to send a great part of their money out of the State to purchase those things that, in all justice, should be produced here at home.

Oklahoma welcomes capital—she surely welcomes new citizens and new ideas. With a fertile soil equalled by few neighboring states, producing crops valued at $450,000,000 a year, with a healthful climate and a progressive people, with a larger variety and a larger amount of valuable minerals than almost any other state, Oklahoma is preeminently the land of opportunity. The rapidity of its development proves the energy of its people.

Publications of the Oklahoma Geological Survey

The work of the Oklahoma Geological Survey is made available to the public by means of bulletins, circulars and maps.

The earlier publications are out of print, but most of them may be consulted in many public libraries.—Chas. N. Gould, Director Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Page 74

Oklahoma City, Okla.,

January 13th


To the Oklahoma Press Association,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As the present meeting of your society is the last I will attend, it behooves me to offer a short and feeble farewell address.

Nearly forty years ago I exiled myself from Illinois into the then Great American Desert. I have been a pencil pusher at least thirty-five years.

Now after the desert has been made to blossom like the rose of Scharon and the lily of the valley I will return to Illinois as soon as the melodious voice -of the mocking bird is heard around about Peoria and Chicago, Illinois.

I will never return to “the land of the fair God” and spotted politician in body, but often in spirit.

I wish that you all be blessed with all the good health and wealth you need; as for myself, I desire plenty of good eyesight, and about one fourth of the wealth I need.

I thank all those who have been kind to me for their liberality and it will be written in my thirty-seven years in Oklahoma.

Let my epitaph on a small marble slab be “The saddest words of tongue and pen are it might have been DIFFERENT.”

I desire that mixed petunias be blooming over my remains.

I am now eighty-nine years and three months young-oldyoung, and my ninetieth birthday will be celebrated in Peoria, Illinois, provided the grim reaper doesn’t cut me down with his sharp scythe before October 24th, 1928.

Fare thee well, forever, if forever? Fare thee well.


Return to top

Electronic Publishing Center | OSU Home | Search this Site