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Tank Wagons and Trucks
Tank Wagons
Storage Stations
Wagon Builders, Tank Fitters
Early Conveyances
Early Tank Trucks
Tank Trucks, 1921-1941
Manufacturer's Advertising
Tank Makers and Fitters
Tank Truck Town
World War II



Along the edge of the woods or in a far corner of the lease one might find an old battle-scarred tank truck out of service. The once bright colors have faded, but sometimes the name of its long-ago owner can be made out on the rust-spotted doors. The chances are that many of these abandoned tank trucks had spent their working life picking up crude oil from the stock tanks in the lease and carrying it to the refinery. Most of the miles were driven on rutty access roads that hadn’t seen a blade for a generation. Unless they’re hauled away for junk, these distressed tankers join the other ponderous artifacts remaining in the abandoned shallow oil fields in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. In a "bone yard" familiar to the author, there are truck wheels with wooden spokes and solid rubber tires along with other discarded equipment that had seen its day in a by-gone era.

In the United States, bulk haulage of oil and refined products in tank conveyances began with the horse-drawn tank wagon in about 1883 when Standard Oil of California paraded an impressive "fleet" of five tank wagons in the San Francisco area (White, 1962). To be fair, White also mentions that a single wagon with a 360 gallon galvanized iron tank was operated by Charles Yates in 1882 in the Bay area, the "First in the West". By 1910 the occasional motorized tank truck began to be noticed on the roads, becoming common by 1915. Hundreds of thousands of tank trucks and trailers carrying refined products were on the highways by 1930 (API, 1930), and this number has grown steadily, even exponentially, ever since.

This is an abandoned International R200 truck on which a tank for oilfield purposes is mounted. This battered truck was used to pick up crude from separators and stock tanks deep in the woods where single blade roads had turned to ruts and were nearly impassable. Various number codes are visible at closer range. It was vehicle number 341 and also had a NY registration number on the door. The tank truck was found at the edge of the woods along Tightpinch Road near the old Pithole oilfield.
This Holcomb Oil Co. Dodge tank truck sat along the road in Titusville, Pennsylvania, for some years but disappeared lately. Tools, hoses, gloves etc. were still in it. The tank has three compartments judging from the three input valves on the top.

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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