In Mid-Fifties, Well On Blackfoot Reservation Received Positive Media Attention, Celebration

The Morning Gun #1 drilling rig near East Glacier. Photo from the Glacier County Oilfield Museum in Cut Bank, Montana. The photo appeared in an issue of Tower magazine, a publication of Union Oil Company of California.

Published: Saturday, October 12, 2013 4:03 PM CDT
Editor’s note: The Sun Times has for quite a while been researching the history of oil and gas drilling activity along the Rocky Mountain Front.  This week begin with one of the many stories surrounding the Morning Gun #1 well. The well, drilled by Union Oil of California, was located near East Glacier, not far from the proposed Solonex well location.                    .

From the Montana Oil Journal, January 1, 1955


One of the most elaborate ceremonies in north Montana oil history, not excepting the World’s Fair held at Sunburst in 1923, is scheduled Jan. 17, to mark the start of Union Oil Company of California’s 11,500 foot deep test on the western edge of the Blackfeet Indian reservation, a few miles east of the town of Glacier Park.

The well is the company’s No. 1 Morning Gun, in SW SW 18-31N-11W and by the day of the celebration should be well on its way.

Of interest, setting forth in detail what may be expected at the Jan. 17 ceremony, is the following from the typewriter of Frank Whetstone and as published in the Cut Bank Pioneer Press:

“January 17 is scheduled to be another banner day in the history of Glacier county oil development.

“That is the day a group of Blackfeet tribal members will gather at the wildcat being drilled by Union Oil Company of California on the Otter Woman Morning Gun lease west and south of Browning and east of East Glacier Park to participate in what will be known as a ‘spud’ ceremony.

“This will be a formal ceremony in observance of the spudding in of the well, a deep test in an area of high hopes and where big lease bonus money has been paid. Another Pincher Creek structure is the firm hope of the drillers.

“Coming for the event will be President Reece Taylor, Vice President Cy Rubel, R.G. ‘Scottty’ Green, manager of exploration, western area, composed of Rocky Mountains, Pacific Coast and Canada, accompanied by others from the Los Angeles office.

“Heading the delegation from the Denver office of Union Oil will be Bill Morgan, accompanied by Bud Cavnes, Bulldog Drummond, Frank Ball and others.

“Invited are several well known full blood Indians headed by Joe Ironpipe, all members of the Blackfeet tribal council, all the family of Mrs. Otter Woman Morning Gun, on whose leases the well is being drilled. Coming from Billings will be John Cooper, area director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, who will join Agency Superintendent Charles Spencer of Browning and other staffers.

“The Cut Bank Pioneer Press, feeling the occasion is one of unusual significance in our oil development history, has initiated the idea of appropriately celebrating the starting of the well in Western Glacier County that may make greater production history, to be followed by a new surge in this and other areas of the county.

“With this in mind it was felt that the greatest amount of publicity attendant to the occasion would be desirable. Thus leading national magazines, such as Life and other picture magazines and several nationally known newspapers are being invited to attend and publicize the ceremony.

“Plans call for President Taylor to arrive in Cut Bank the morning of January 17 by company plane, where he and his party will be met by R.D. Smith of Great Falls, assistant to the president and head of Union Oil Company Glacier Division, and other personnel from the Cut Bank operations.

“They will go from Cut Bank to Browning, where they will gather as a group with the Indian leaders and other executives and go to the well site. There the Indians will observe proper ceremonials and prayers, asking that the well be a producer.

“The group will then come back to Browning where a barbecue is planned and ceremonies whereby President Taylor will be inducted into the Blackfeet tribe will be observed. Harry Cloke, superintendent of schools, has arranged for the famous children Star School Indian ceremonial dancers to perform at the ceremonies in honor of Reece Taylor.

“Hopes are that buffalo meat can be secured for the barbecue, but if not, plans call for using a fine fat steer raised on the Blackfeet reservation.”


Author: montanaoilreport

After my first job at a newspaper -- delivering papers for the Jackson (TN) Sun, ink was in my veins. Since the 1970's I've worked in every area of the Printing and Publishing industry, with most of that time spent in the pressroom. In 2008 I moved to Montana and purchased the Sun Times of Fairfield ( In 2011 I realized that most media outlets were either ignoring, or attacking, the growing oil and gas industry in Montana, so I started the Montana Oil Report as the source of information on this important industry.

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