The Development of American Petroleum Pipelines: A Study in Private Enterprise and Public Policy, 1862-1906

By Arthur Menzies Johnson | Go to book overview
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Preface

WHY anyone not connected with the petroleum industry should choose to write about the history of pipelines is a question that I have been frequently asked. It is a question that the reader certainly has a right to raise and to which he deserves an answer.

This study began in a seminar at Vanderbilt University in 1951 as an investigation of the striking similarity between the charges made in the United States Industrial Commission hearings of 1899 against the practices of pipeline companies and those made in the Temporary National Economic Committee hearings more than forty years later. Although during the intervening period interstate petroleum pipelines had been declared common carriers and placed under federal supervision, the complaints made chiefly against the lines of a single company before the turn of the century were in effect repeated by a new generation of critics against a group of companies. It was this facet of the development of pipeline enterprises that first called my attention to the underground oil carriers.

Even limited investigation showed that the apparent conflict between private enterprise and public policy in this field was firmly rooted in the historical context of pipeline development. Research, conducted in Washington from 1951 to 1953, indicated that the role of pipelines in the formative period of the petroleum industry had never been assigned the importance that it deserved. Experience

-vii-

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