Looking Back

Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Sure-Pop oil derrick with large crowd. 1921. ESHM Collection. Plate 73. BES 06-023-21

Photo courtesy of Eureka Springs Historical Museum

In 1920 or so, rumors of the potential wealth through ‘black gold’

ran rampant among the people of Northwest Arkansas. Soon, oil

drilling operations were set up all over the region as people invested

everything they could spare in oil companies, assured by “the

best geological authority” that the composition of the land across a

wide area of the Ozark Mountains was perfectly suited to contain

rich pools of oil.

In Eureka Springs in May 1921, H.C. Harrison arrived to promote

drilling an oil well. Harrison was president of the Sure Pop Oil

Company and supposed to have several wells in Texas. By July,

Harrison had purchased a large tract of land near the crossing of

White River on the new Eureka Springs/Seligman highway, set up

drilling equipment and sold Sure Pop oil leases to almost everyone

in Eureka Springs. A barrage of talk, rumor and newspaper publicity

fanned the first fires of excitement in the town. People were

convinced they would soon possess wealth beyond imagination.

A year passed as drilling went on. Expectations continued to

be high until July 31, 1922, when during the early hours of the

morning, the derrick, all equipment and buildings went up in

smoke, totally destroyed by a fire of unknown origin. The next day,

Mr. Harrison could not be found, the company office soon closed

down, and the people of Eureka Springs settled down to business

as usual, having lost every dollar they invested in Sure Pop.

— Stephanie Stodden, Museum Operations Manager

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