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Back in 1947, statistics pointed to bright future for KansasBack in 1947, statistics pointed to bright future for Kansas

Looking Back: Kansas was a top oil producer, with 19 refineries, and the Hugoton gas field was world’s largest 70 years ago.

Jacky Goerzen

August 17, 2017

2 Min Read
BIG OIL: Kansas ranked fifth in the nation in oil production in 1947 with 20,551 oil wells and 19 refineries. The Hugoton field in southwest Kansas was the world’s largest natural gas field.chengwaidefeng/iStock/Thinkstock

Back in October of 1947, there were some pretty impressive statistics to indicate a bright future for Kansas. The state ranked ahead of 43 states (there were only 48 then) in oil production, with more than 20,551 oil wells in production and 19 refineries across the state.

Production was also in full swing in the world’s largest known natural gas field at the time, the Hugoton field with its estimated 13 trillion cubic feet of gas. Kansas was producing a million tons of coal a year and ranked third in production of zinc. There was enough salt in Kansas to supply the entire U.S. for 500,000 years.

65 years ago
The number of turkeys on Kansas farms 65 years ago in October of 1952 was estimated at 668,000 birds, about 10% fewer than the previous year. The U.S. Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Kansas State Board of Agriculture said that turkeys had developed well, but the 1952 crop was still down 27% from the 10-year average. Across the country, however, turkey production was up, with a record total of 58,956,000 birds.

60 years ago
It was 60 years ago in October of 1957 that the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Refuge was completed. The construction project lasted 13 years and cost a total of $3 million. In the fall of 1957, the 18,000-acre refuge held 9,000 acres of water and was the largest body of water in Kansas. Two diversion dams, one on Wet Walnut Creek and one on the Arkansas River, diverted water into the refuge.

50 years ago
When is a child old enough to start driving a tractor? In 1967, a Michigan safety engineer said physically, a child should be 54 inches tall and weigh at least 90 pounds. But, he cautioned, judgment is more important than size.

Statistics of the day showed children from 10 to 16 had four to 10 times the number of tractor and machinery accidents as operators between 16 and 50, and half of all fatal highway accidents involving a tractor happened to youngsters under the age of 16.

30 years ago
The Zenith co-op began a new experiment: paying a premium for wheat with high protein content. Manager Chris Glaves purchased a wheat protein analyzer and prepared to test each load of wheat before it was dumped. He paid farmers a 10-cent premium for wheat with 13% protein and a penny more for each quarter-percent increase in protein content. The co-op had two dump pits and two legs, so he was able to segregate the higher protein wheats in the elevator.

Goerzen writes from Wichita.

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