The Sulphur Industry of Calcasieu Parish

(Transcribed by Leora White) 


A Thesis


Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the

Louisiana State University and

Agricultural and Mechanical College

in partial fulfillment of the

requirements for the degree of

Master of Arts


The Department of History



Louis August Lynn

B. S., Louisiana State University, 1947

August, 1950




The writer desires to express his sincere appreciation to Professor Walter Prichard for his advice and counsel while doing graduate work.


He also wishes to express his appreciation to Dr. Charles Edward Smith, Dr. Harry Williams, Dr. W. A. Lawrence, Dr. Otis Skipper and Dr. L. M. Harrison for their constructive advice, also to the personnel of the Union Sulphur Company for their splendid cooperation.






    Sulphur, an Aladdin for the Ancients

    Sicilian Sulphur Deposits

    Herman Frasch
    De-sulphurization of oil
    The Superheated Water Process



    American and Sicilian Production
    The Frasch Patents
    Assessments and Taxes



    Labor-management relationship
    Social and Hygienic Welfare
    The Town of Sulphur









 I. Profile of Artesian Wells, West Fork of Calcasieu River
II. Section at Sulphur Mine
III. United States Production of Sulphuric Acid
IV. Estimated Percentage of Sulphuric Acid Made from Primary Raw Materials:  1885 -1925
V. Sulphur in the United States:  1900 – 1924 (Long tons)
VI. United States Production of Sulphur:  1891 – 1900 (Long tons)
VII. Sulphur Produced in Louisiana





FIGURES (not available in the copy used for this transcription)
The Physicochemical Properties of Sulphur
IIDiagram of Sulphur Well No. 1
III. A Pipe Diagram of the Frasch Process
IV. Sulphur Products Chart
V. Location of Wells on the Sulphur Dome





PLATE (not available in the copy used for this transcription)
Entrance to the Sulphur Mine
II. Boiler Batteries
III. Producing Sulphur Wells and Pipe Lines
IV. Molten Sulphur Discharged into Bins
V. An Aerial View of the Intricate Brimstone Railroad
VI. Mexican Laborers and Crude Methods of Loading Gondola Cars
VII. Modern Loading
VIII. Union Sulphur Company Dock at Sabine, Texas
IX. Storm of 1918
X. An Aerial View of the Mexican Cottages




The purpose of this thesis is to record the history of the sulphur industry in Calcasieu Parish.  It was in this parish that many attempts were made to mine sulphur but all such attempts were unsuccessful until Herman Frasch applied his ingenious process.


The procedure in this thesis had been to explore all possible sources for data.  After gathering the raw material the writer subjected it to internal and external criticism.  He attempted to present the historical facts in a readable form, following the basic scientific methods, as this subject is of a physical nature.


Sulphur has been used by mankind for thousands of years, yet large scale commercial production had been an international problem for generations.  The experimental work in Calcasieu Parish, with the superheated water process for mining, has not been changed in principle.  This magic mineral is now one of the cheapest chemical elements in the world.


Research has shown that imaginative men will discover, invent, and modify processes until the needs of his fellowman are fulfilled.  It has been found that the Frasch Process had helped to develop American resources and that sulphur is the main constituent of sulphuric acid which is used in practically all industries.






Sulphur is one of the essential elements of our modern civilization. (1)  A nation’s progress is determined by the amount of sulphuric acid it uses. (2) Our country has one of the largest stockpiles of sulphur in the world.  This chemical asset was made possible by American ingenuity.


Herman Frasch, German born chemist and engineer, invented this amazing process theoretically and developed it practically in Louisiana.  The principle was simple but the mining process was difficult. (3)  After several years of mining the process became a commercial success and Sicilian sulphur ceased to be one of America’s leading imports.


The Frasch process was operated on an enormous scale and required not only a considerable personnel force, but also a large amount of financial investment and equipment.  Virtually an entire town was built and maintained by the Union Sulphur Company for the benefit of its employees.


Large scale production of pure sulphur lowered the price to a reasonable figure, and the sulphur industry ceased to be an international political issue. 


The magic mineral, sulphur, is unique and has remarkable properties.  It is widely used but not thoroughly understood.  Sulphur has contributed to civilization for the past four thousand years. (4)  This yellow substance plays an important part in the agricultural, the industrial, and the scientific progress of the world. 


We have found in historic documents that sulphur was used by pagan priests in ceremonial rites.  The characteristic pale blue flame and the sulphurous smell intrigued these early people.  It became an important part in these weird ceremonials of sacrifice and purification.  (5)


From the mystic temples of the East, sulphur progressed to the crude experiments of the heathen Chinese and became an important constituent in explosive compounds.  About the same period it was used as a bleaching agent for cloth and a necessary element of paint compounds. 


Homer, the “poet laureate” of ancient Greece refers to the pungent odor of sulphur as a fumigant as early as 1000 B.C. Odysseus from the classic work of literature, The Odyssey of Homer, purified the air in his house after slaying the suitors for his wife’s hand by the use of sulphur. (6)  Because it was permanently used with manifestations of divinity, it has been suggested that the Greek term for sulphur “theion” is associated with their name for deity. (7)


When the Roman Empire was at its height, Pliny, a historian, confirmed its use as a fumigant and cited fourteen medicinal virtues.  He firmly believed that there were four forms of sulphur, each differing in purity and physical state.


Sulphur virum or ‘live’ was used in medicine; globa, a globaceous or particulate sulphur, was employed by fullers in the preparation of cloth; egula, a third type, was used in the fumigation of wool. A fourth type, not named, was used principally in treating lamp-wicks to provide easy lighting.  (8)


Sulphur was used in the early manufacture of artificial jewelry; its presence in a mixture caused a gold-like glint to the baubles of courtesans of the Middle Ages. (9)  This characteristic led alchemists to struggle with fruitless effort to convert basic metals into gold, by using sulphur in various compounds and mixtures.  Its inflammable nature, the small bright, ethereal, blue flame and its curious odor when burned baffled early experimenters.  Yet with each new era singular properties were discovered which benefited mankind.


During the seventeenth century, Paracelsus, a chemist, worked with sulphur and referred to it as a resinous fatty substance which contained acid properties.  Many leading scientists of that period accepted the theory that sulphur was a mixture of sulphuric acid and phlogiston.  Davy did not accept sulphur as an element as late as the nineteenth century.


The island of Sicily, off the southern coast of Italy, produced sulphur as early as the fifteenth century.  Their operations were primitive and a simple process of liquefaction was used.  The sulphur deposits were located near the center of the island and extending east and west approximately eighty miles long and thirty-five miles wide.  The strata are not level and the veins varied in thickness from a few feet to three hundred and fifty feet.  The average sulphur content of the ore was thirty-three per cent.


The Sicilian deposits were mined by the usual method of the day.  It was wasteful and dangerous but it provided a livelihood for 250,000 citizens of the island. (10)  The ore was carried out of the mine and placed in a pit and then melted.  The liquid sulphur was ladled out. This method rendered only one third of the desired element.  Many years later a kiln process replaced this crude operation. 


Sulphur did not become important commercially until 1736 when the quack English doctor, Joshua Ward, first manufactured sulphuric acid. (11)  In 1746 John Roebuck devised the lead-condensing chambers for large scale production.  For approximately one hundred and forty years Sicily was the leading sulphur producing country in the world.  Although it held a virtual monopoly on the element, a French company secured the controlling interest in the vast deposits.  A frenzy of speculation caused English and French importers to increase their supplies to cover future needs.  In Sicily not only operation of the mines and transportation facilities were bad, but the management of the mines was unorganized.  Consequently, one mine competed with another.  The prices increased, then dropped.  Finally, the French government decided to organize the mines. Two shrewd Frenchmen, Aime-Taix and Arsene Aycard, proposed to the king that their company, Taix, Aycard and Company, be given exclusive control of Sicilian sulphur production.  The king and Duchess de Bury were to be silent partners. (12)   The Company raised the price of brimstone from $25 to $75 per ton.  This boost in price caused other nations to seek sulphur from other sources.


After a period of time, France learned that she could not monopolize the production of sulphur and charge exorbitant prices without someone finding new sources or new methods to produce this vital substance.  English scientists discovered that they could obtain sulphuric acid by roasting iron pyrites.  This was the first setback for the Sicilian sulphur industry. 


Sicilian sulphur producers paid no attention to the news from Louisiana that pure sulphur had been pumped out of the ground.  There were many rumors and trickery applied to this industry.  Sicilian producers knew that sulphur was found in small amounts in Japan, Chile, and the United States, that is, in Nevada, Utah, and California.  Possible competition from the United States was ignored because immediate financial difficulties required their attention at home. 


This exaggerated American yarn of an enormous deposit being extracted by a process fantastic enough to be a Jules Verne romance just did not seem possible. (13)  Sulphur, being a non-metallic element with a characteristic yellow to dark color, depending on the amount of impurities, had to be separated from the ore.  The European producers were not familiar with the crystalline structure of sulphur. It is found as hipyramidal or tubular crystals of the orthorhombic classification as well as in stalactic and concentrated formations.  Today, sulphur is commonly found as native sulphur, sulphides of many metals, and as sulphates. 


According to Eli Perkins, a member of a prominent family, early in the eighteen forties a party of hunters killed a bear with a heavy oil on its paws. (14) They were surprised and curiosity caused them to investigate a few of the back trails of Choupique Bayou.  The hunters located a ridge with a spring near the top of a rise and they observed that the water contained a mixture of oil.  These local woodsmen did not realize the value of their discovery, but were bewildered by this uncanny topographical situation.  The low ridge started from the edge of a swamp and extended into a floating prairie of vast extent where it ended in a series of pine covered knolls. 


The hunters did not keep their discovery a secret, so it was not long before it became common knowledge that aroused the curiosity of the natives.   Many visited the area and later processed some of the surface seepage oil known as “rock oil” to use as a curative for saddle galls on horses, ringworms, and palsy. 


In 1849 the news of the oil strike in the Alleghany Valley reached Calcasieu Parish and a number of settlers associated it with the oil spring on the low ridge.  There was a rush to enter the land and the fortunate ones were Eli Escoubas and a Mr. Gill.   William and Eli Perkins along with a Dr. Kirkman attempted to drill a well using water well methods. (15)


Gill sold a half-interest to a gentleman by the name of Lowell for $10,000.  Lowell assisted in the formation of the Louisiana Petroleum Company.  It was this company that first discovered sulphur while boring a well for oil on this ridge-like dome.  These cuttings were concrete evidence of the purity of the yellow mineral. 


Oil-men concentrated on the salt domes of the entire Gulf Coast country for the next few years.  These submerged islands of rock, lying at irregular intervals in a sea of unconsolidated sediment and with unknown depth, caused many theories as to origin and development.  (16)   It is believed that the chemical reaction of lime, hydrocarbons, oil, pyrites, and hot salt water formed hydrogen sulphides.  With changing temperature and pressure, the hydrogen sulphide compound liberated hydrogen gas and precipitated the remaining sulphur into crystals.  The differential pressure forced these domes up through overlying strata, thus the conspicuous surface indications of a mound appeared in swampy or prairie land. (17)   Not all of the saline domes protrude above the surface.


Large streams carried sediment to their deltas and to the Gulf of Mexico.  These areas in which coastal salt domes are found extend from the east bank of the Mississippi River to the area of Corpus Christi, Texas.  This belt has a depth inland of approximately seventy-five miles.  One hundred and thirty-six domes were reported by drillers and deeper formations are indicated by seismograph surveys.


The Sicilian resources are considered an outstanding mineral deposit.  It is composed of a series of strata of brown cellular limestone interbedded with bituminous shale.  Thin particular type of strata is basin-like shaped and is found as isolated deposits.  Under these geological conditions, it is possible to mine the sulphur-bearing rock and cart it to the surface through shafts, tunnels and drifts, but the deposits of Louisiana are deep and covered with treacherous layers of quicksand and deadly hydrogen sulphide gases.


The Louisiana subterranean beds have an average thickness of one hundred and twenty-five feet and are covered with soft rocks, clay, and gravel.   These deposits were discovered in 1875 when “the search for black gold lead to yellow magic.”  (19)   In 1878 several unsuccessful mining attempts were made to reach the yellow mineral. 


General Jules Brady of New Orleans, who organized the Louisiana Petroleum and Coal Oil Company, employed an experienced driller by the name of Mudd to make the first exploratory boring at the head of Bayou Choupique in Calcasieu Parish. (20)  This fifty-acre dome is now owned by the Union Sulphur Company near the town of Sulphur. At the depth of 1230 feet the drilling was stopped as its cuttings indicated a gypsum layer with no sign of oil.  These geological formations were unfamiliar to the driller so he consulted Professor Eugene Hilgard of the University of Mississippi who was making a general oil and mineral survey of Louisiana. 


Professor Hilgard examined the cores and discussed the drilling logs thoroughly with the driller.  The professor discounted its oil possibilities but did express his belief concerning the sulphur content and purity. He believed that some oil was located about three hundred and forty feet below the surface but it was not concentrated and would be an uncommercial project.   He also advocated a shaft method to reach the sulphur, provided enough financial resources were at the disposal of a competent engineer. (21)


On the basis of Professor Hilgard’s report, the Louisiana Petroleum Company decided to mine sulphur but the land owners, Hilaire Escoubas and Truxton Lowell, sued the company because the option called for oil.  The land owners won their case so the Calcasieu Sulphur and Mining Company was organized in 1870 to secure the sulphur.


This sulphur company was controlled mainly by New Orleans stockholders.  These people were inclined to look to France for financial and technical assistance.  The general manager, Captain Ino A. Grant, the secretary, M. Bonneual and the chief engineer, Antoine Granet, were recommended by the French government to operate the company.


Chief engineer Granet studied Mudd’s core and Professor Hilgard’s report but decided to drill an exploration well between the former wells.  He encountered quicksand and limestone and found that one hundred and fifty gallons of sulphurous water per minute was the flow in the quicksand.  Granet proposed to reach the sulphur by sinking a tubular shaft, using the hydrostatic pressure of water in the tube to prevent the influx of quicksand and sulphurous water. The tube consisted of eighty-seven cast-iron rings; each ring weighed seven and one-half tons with a diameter of ten feet and a height of five feet.  Each ring had a flange and was faced for a gasket joint in order to make it water tight.


There were no foundries or machine shops in this area to supply this special equipment and Granet, being an European, decided to order the cast-iron rings from Belgium and the pumps and boilers from France.  The equipment arrived from France and was transferred to the lighters and towed up to Rose Bluff.  A first class road was constructed from Rose Bluff to the “mines” in order to move this cumbersome equipment.  The boilers were transported over the road by heavy wagons but the rings were rolled, a pair of high wheels being fastened to each ring and drawn by oxen the nine miles to the “mines.”  The road alone cost over ten thousand dollars.  A conservative estimate of whole project, including material and transportation, was fixed at $300,000. 


This company never reached a sufficient depth with their timber to insert the cast-iron rings.  The shaft was twenty feet in diameter and reached a depth of one hundred and eighty feet when a small layer of quicksand proved to be very difficult.  The stockholders refused to risk any more capital as this venture had cost them $1,500,000 and with no basis for success, all operations ceased and the project was abandoned. (23)


The Louisiana Sulphur Company took over all tangible property of the Calcasieu Sulphur and Mining Company.  This company acquired the title from Truxton Lowell and Hilaire’s widow.  They followed Antoine Granet’s method with a few modifications.  Their shaft was twenty-two feet in diameter and the tube was thirteen feet in diameter.  This allowed ample space for support timbers to prevent cave-ins.  The quicksand soon became a discouraging factor. 


In 1888 the Diamond Prospecting Company of Chicago drilled a test well for Mr. Van Slooten. (24)  This Company had its own peculiar methods.  No sand pumps were used.  A pipe was driven into the ground and a powerful stream of water forced down the inner section caused the dirt to be pumped out.  When a rock bed was encountered, a steel collar was screwed on to the drill rod.  This collar contained a set of diamonds.  A rotary motion was provided by a small engine.  The core rose in the rod and was removed when the rod was raised.  A leg was encountered at three hundred feet and when exposed to air for any length of time it turned into a form of coal.  An underground supply of water was encountered and came to the surface when the diamond bit became disengaged.


In 1890 the American Sulphur Company took over the elusive sulphur mine.  This Company was financed by three prominent men of the mining industry -  Abram S. Hewitt, Edward Cooper, and Hamilton McKay Twembly. (25)   The Company selected Richard P. Rothwell to pilot their operations.  He was the distinguished editor of the Engineering and Mining Journal. (26)  Rothwell had the expert advice of Rossiter W. Raymond, a distinguished engineer, at his disposal. 


Fresh cores were the first move and the services of the Chicago contractors were enlisted because of their previous experience in this field. The sulphur crumbled easily into a creamy state as it came in contact with the drilling water, and it was difficult to get an honest appraisal of the percentage of purity.  H. H. Hall, superintendent, personally supervised this drilling.   He obtained several long cores approximately two inches in diameter and departed for New York to report to his company.  The deposits proved to be phenomenally rich in native sulphur.


Superintendent Rothwell borrowed Antoine Granet’s plan and slightly modified it.  He cleared one of the old shafts and pumped it dry; then a shield, which is a row of hydraulic jacks capped by an iron ring, ten feet in diameter and eight feet high, was lowered to the bottom.  The shield alone weighed eighteen tons.  The lower edge of the shaft was called the “shoe.”  The old iron rings were piled on top.  For the important task of bolting the flanges together and packing the joints to be water tight, Hall sent for Jacques Toniette, and old friend and trusted employee.  Toniette was a boss blacksmith and mechanic in the gold fields of Delora, Canada. 


As soon as the caisson was completed, a bucket hoist, powered by a French engine enabled a digging crew to descend into the well. Pumps were used to keep the well dry.  The weight of the rings forced the shield lower and lower as the digging progressed.  At two hundred and fifty feet they encountered quicksand in a semi-liquid form.  The pressure of this fluid caused the platform and men to rise forty feet.  Rothwell succeeded in using a shell bucket dredge to scoop out the quicksand.  He recovered twenty feet but the shield would not go any lower.  The shaft sank out of plumb in the quicksand and the weight of the rings could not force it downward. 


In an effort to recover some pipe in well number six, which had broken off twenty-five feet below the surface, two workmen removed the wooden plug which released a gusher of gas and water.  Three men working in the foundry thought their fellow workers were drowning so they descended the ladder into the shaft. Those three men slipped while on the ladder and suffered the same fate as the other two.  The deadly hydrogen sulphide gas caused the tragedy instead of drowning.  C. C. Lovejoy, driller, analyzed the trouble and averted further loss of life by directing the men to use grappling irons as it was practically impossible to get near the edge of the shaft because of the expansion of the poisonous gas. (27)


The American Sulphur Company abandoned its project after this accident.  The rigs were disassembled and all personnel except Jacques Toniette and two helpers departed.  The remaining workers prepared the machinery and the pumps for storage.  The small buildings were boarded up and the workers were used as caretakers. This climaxed thirty years of successive failures to mine this sulphur. 

It is rumored that a freezing process was tried by the National Sulphur Company but with no results.  This Poetsch freezing process proposed to solidify the sand in order to sink and line a shaft through this insurmountable obstacle.   The use of ammonia pipe refrigeration is extraordinary but all orthodox methods had failed. (28)


While Toniette guarded his company’s property, Herman Frasch was busy drilling a core on a small tract of land not far from the sulphur dome. 






Herman Frasch was born in Wurttemberg, Germany, on Christmas Day in 1851.  His father, Johannes Frasch, was burgomaster of Gaildorf, Wurttemberg. (1)  At the age of nineteen years Herman Frasch came to America and found a position as chief assistant to Professor Maisch in the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. (2)  He possessed many outstanding traits.  In addition to being a good chemist he was a competent engineer and later proved to be a successful business man.  His theoretical and practical background enabled him to discover and to invent things which secured for him a position as a prominent scientist of the early oil and sulphur industries of the United States.  He enjoyed life and his personality caused him to have many friends, but above all, he was a tremendous worker.


Frasch soon realized the industrial possibilities of the country.  He decided that through chemistry the petroleum industry would expand.


Without doubt he was the greatest contributor to the early chemical technology of petroleum refining, his most renowned discovery being the chemical process for the de-sulphurization of Canadian and Ohio crudes which raised the market value of these oils from fourteen cents to one dollar a barrel. (3)


After several years of specializing in petroleum he purchased the Empire Oil Company and a small refinery near Petrolia, Ontario.  Its chief product was kerosene.  Because of the offensive odor of the Canadian oil it was commonly referred to as “skunk oil.”  The efficiency of this fuel was quite low because heavy deposits of unburned carbon appeared as soot.  Complex hydrocarbons and sulphur were responsible for the offensive odor and low fuel value.  Within a year he discovered a method to remove the undesired sulphur; thus “skunk oil” was on a par with the better crudes. 


He is also credited with de-sulphurizing Lima crude oil.  Many European governments had their scientists working on this important project but achieved no success.  The Standard Oil Company benefited greatly from these chemical discoveries.  They anticipated this development and purchased twenty-five million barrels of Lima crude oil for which they paid fourteen cents per barrel.  (4)  The Frasch de-sulphurizing did not add to the cost of refining so the Standard Oil Company reaped enormous profits.  This company also used a Frasch process to refine Ohio and Indiana crude oil.  The Standard Oil Company recognized Frasch’s abilities and purchased his patent, his Canadian company, and engaged him as their first chief of their research department. (5)  He received stock in the Standard Oil Company as payment for his patents and after they were applied this stock rose to five times its original value.


By the time he retired, sixty-four different patents had been granted to him.  His work with sulphur is his chief contribution, then the de-sulphurization of oil.  Most of his contributions were successful and aided him financially and helped to develop the national resources.  His first patent was granted in 1875 for a process to utilize tin scrap; this was followed by a patent for improving the refining of wax which he sold to the Standard Oil Company.  Some of his other  projects were:  the manufacture of white lead from galena, the production of sodium carbonate from salt, for electric light carbons, for a paraffin-waxed paper, for making elements in thermal electrical generators and for the reviving of old petroleum wells by hydrochloric acid.  These projects involved millions of dollars and whole industries. 


The Louisiana sulphur deposits were discussed throughout the world and drew a great deal of attention from scientific societies.  Frasch was thoroughly familiar with sulphur after his petroleum experiments.  He was aware of the commercial value of sulphur in Sicily and of the fact that steam was used to separate it from its gangue. The idea of using steam below the surface was ingenious indeed.  He probably associated the melting point of sulphur and his experience from pumping brine from salt wells.  By October of 1890, he formulated his plans and applied for a patent based only on theoretical convictions. 


From 1890 to 1903 he spent his vacations in Louisiana.  Herman Frasch, Frank Rockefeller, and F. B. Squires had an agreement to investigate the Louisiana sulphur deposits.  If their venture proved successful, a corporation would be formed and all three would share in the profits and future sulphur patents.  After four exploratory wells, Frasch decided that all the sulphur in this area was located at the property of the American Sulphur Company. (6)   Frasch represented his group at a meeting in New York with the American Sulphur Company.  After some deliberation, patent rights and property titles were pooled and a new company was formed.  (7)   This was the Union Sulphur Company. 


Although the Frasch process was unproven Abram S. Hewitt, representing the American Sulphur Company which had failed, agreed to form a new company.  He had the opinions of several competent engineers concerning this new method for extracting the sulphur.


Jacob C. Hoffman, a young German and fellow worker at the Standard Oil Company, was selected to be the first superintendent of the newly organized Union Sulphur Company.  Hoffman met Jacques Toniette and they had some difficulty in understanding each other.  Toniette proudly displayed the great iron rings and the two steam boilers, also the steam pump from France. (8)


Hoffman took over immediately and had safety measures increased to prevent accidents.  It was quite difficult to drive a pipe down a few inches in the shifting sand.  With the aid of driver’s clamps the pipe could descend several feet as the vice-like grip held the pipe.


After this obstacle was passed the ten-inch pipe was reduced to eight inches which penetrated the cap rock.  A fountain of sulphurous water and gas sprayed in the air.  This poisonous vapor could cause serious burns so the drillers worked on a raised platform.  A six-inch casing was set in the sulphur deposit.  A perforated pipe acted as a strainer at the bottom of the sulphur deposit.  Above the strainer was an iron ring.  A three-inch pipe was lowered into the six-inch casing which sat upon the cast-iron ring.  A sucker rod was placed in the three-inch pipe. (9)


To furnish steam, four old Erie City ironwork boilers on one hundred horsepower each were supplied with water from the nearby swamp.  This “live” steam passed to a heater through a series of insulated pipes and valves.  The pipes were imbedded in a six inch wooden box filled with sawdust while the heaters were insulated with asbestos.  The cylindrical steel heater was twenty feet high, thirty inches in diameter and was erected above the ground in order to utilize the forces of gravity. (10)  Cold water was introduced through the top by a four-inch pipe; it circulated through the cylinder and was heated by the steam.  After the water reached a temperature of three hundred and fifteen degrees Fahrenheit it was forced down the well. (11)


This superheated water was forced into the well in the space between the six-inch and the three-inch pipes under a pressure of two hundred and fifty pounds per square inch. It left the casing through the perforation at the bottom of the six-inch pipe.  The perforation consists of a series of holes which were one-quarter of an inch in diameter.  The sulphur was melted at the bottom of the well and with the aid of a sucker rod, a walking beam and an engine, Herman Frasch succeeded in penetrating the strongbox of nature and extracting the magic mineral.


Sulphur begins to melt at two hundred and forty degrees Fahrenheit and has a density twice that of water so it accumulates in sufficient quantities at the bottom of the well.  It rises in the three-inch pipe if compressed air of about 500 pounds to the square inch replaces the partially discontinued water.  Above two hundred and five degrees Fahrenheit the crystalline structure of sulphur slowly changes from rhombic to monoclinic.  After it is pumped into bins there is a reversible reaction in the crystalline behavior. (12)


Although the process appears to be rather simple there are engineering difficulties and a mass of supplies necessary to operate twenty-four hours a day.  If the process stops, the sulphur congeals and boring must begin all over again.  From the beginning, Frasch realized these hazards, so he modified and improved the equipment still using the original principle.


The first setback occurred because the sucker rods broke, but they were soon replaced by new aluminum ones which would not corrode rapidly. It was in the fall of 1895 when the second experiment was made.  All functioned well and soon the yellow stream filled the three vats which had a capacity of one hundred and forty cubic feet each.  Due to the heavy strain of lifting the heavy column of sulphur the sucker rods broke.  Frasch concluded additional hot water was necessary and that air pressure would eliminate the pump. 


A one-inch pipe line for compressed air was used.  It was placed inside the three-inch line.  A ten-inch casing was tried and it was so arranged that the superheated water could descend through either the six-inch or the ten-inch casing or both if necessary.  A smooth casing was shortened and a casing twenty-five feet long made it easier to remove the pipe.  Without coupling joints the pipes could be hoisted by the derrick before the sulphur congealed if anything went wrong.


If the water penetrates the sulphur from the top and the bottom at the same time a proper temperature can be maintained.  The cold water at the bottom of the well has a tendency to congeal the sulphur it heated at the top of the cavity.  If heated only at the bottom, maximum efficiency is not maintained.  At one hundred and fifty degrees Centigrade sulphur has a thick brown color but at two hundred and twenty it is plastic and a dark brown in color. (13)


The air lift is quite simple in principle but there are many hidden obstacles when operating is done in the subsurface.  A mixture of molten sulphur and air in the pipe has a density less than that of ground water outside the pipe.  With this variation in the equilibrium of the forces, the hydrostatic pressure outside the pipe causes the sulphur to rise. (14)  In order to maintain an uninterrupted flow of sulphur to the surface, the balance between the pressure of the super-heated water and the air pressure is constant.


The cap rock is located beneath the quicksand.  It consists of limestone, gypsum, and anhydrite; below this is salt. (15)  The cap rock varies in thickness from less than fifty feet to more than one thousand feet, depending on the dome.  The “caps” usually extend down the periphery of the salt plugs thereby forming a seal.  Fissures in the limestone caused a great loss in hot water so Frasch used mud and straw from nearby rice fields to seal crevices.  One yard of mud was pumped into the well for each ton of sulphur extracted.  In a twenty-four hour period of a typical sulphur mine operation, more than three million gallons of water are used to keep from four to seven wells in operation, providing they are in the same area.  Gulf water cannot be used because of its corrosive nature.  Several man-made reservoirs were dug in order to keep a large supply of fresh water on hand. A canal from the Houston River to mines, a distance of eight miles, was dug and two small pumps with a portable boiler drained the swamps. (16)


Fuel and insulation were the major factors in the operation.  Wood was the original fuel which was supplied by local lumber companies.  This soon became exhausted so coal was shipped from the Pratt Mine in Alabama.  A ton of coal at the mine was fifteen cents while transportation charges forces the price to four dollars and five cents.  A single well in operation for twenty-four hours used fifty tons.  This expensive item had to be absorbed in the price of sulphur when placed on the competitive market.  Several times Superintendent Hoffman overdrew the Company account but his friend, A. L. Williams, the bank cashier, carried it for a while but finally had to stop.  Hoffman once sold some of the old French cast-iron rings for a thousand dollars to Captain Anthony F. Lucas in order to make a trip to Cleveland.  He pleaded for enough money to drill another well but it was no use.  The Company treasurer, Mr. Severance, pointed out the balance of 1897.  The total invested and indebtedness amounted to approximately three hundred and nineteen thousand dollars while the total cash received from sales of sulphur was thirty-nine thousand dollars.  He was instructed to return to Louisiana and prepare the mine for an indefinite shutdown. (17)  At that particular time Frasch was in Italy and wanted Hoffman to join him in Sicily.  Toniette and Henning were left in charge of the mine when Hoffman departed.


Sicilian venture did not produce any sulphur so Frasch presented his plans for resuming operations in Louisiana to Abram Hewitt, Edward Cooper and Mrs. Hewitt.  Mrs. Hewitt offered to finance the venture as the other two appeared to be skeptical of success, providing they would sell their shares to her at half price.  The operations were to be kept on an economic scale.  Henning was recalled from the telegraph office and made general manager while Toniette was placed in charge of drilling operations. (18)


Only a few tons of sulphur were produced in the next two years, but when Captain Lucas discovered oil at Spindletop a cheap fuel was available. (19)  Whereas coal cost four dollars and five cents a ton, oil from Spindletop cost but sixty cents a barrel.  With a cheap fuel and recycling of the hot water Frasch solved the problem theoretically. The modified process proved to be a commercial success.


Dr. Frasch pumped the first liquid sulphur from the dome in 1894.  During the next eight years he spent a considerable amount of time in Cleveland, but the Louisiana sulphur project received his prompt attention when needed.  It was not uncommon to see him any time of the day or night walking around with a pick handle piercing the crust of the sulphur and causing a hissing sound, as the hot sulphur below contacted the cool air.  Perhaps he was concentrating on the many problems created by the extraction procedure. 


From the beginning in the latter part of December of 1894 when the first sulphur was produced, it was necessary for the sulphur to remain liquefied and Frasch reminded Superintendent Hoffman of this fact.  Due to mechanical difficulties, the hot water was not kept up and the well sealed itself.  Hoffman relieved the tension on the heater and reinforced it, but by that time the sulphur had already hardened in the six-inch pipe. (20)  This incident necessitated a job of chipping to release the pipe; then the well had to be rebored.  This setback caused a delay of six months.  The second attempt produced five hundred tons of sulphur.  This proved to the world that the process was practical but a large supply of water had to be maintained.


In order to cope with these demands, four new 150-horsepower boilers and a new heater were purchased.  With the new equipment, canal, reservoir, and new plant buildings everyone believed it would flourish into a successful business enterprise, so on January 23, 1896, the Union Sulphur Company was incorporated in New  Jersey to acquire title to the land and mineral rights at Sulphur Mines and take over the Frasch patents.  The original issue was $200,000 of eight percent preferred stock:  half to the shareholders of the American Sulphur Company and half to Frasch, Squires, and Rockefeller. (21)


The “Saline Dome” is located twelve miles west of Lake Charles and one mile north of the Southern Pacific Railway in Section 29, Township 9 South, Range 10 West, Calcasieu Parish, (22) and Frasch’s patent No. 461,429 of October 20, 1891, which was applied for on October 22, 1890, were the important issues. (23)


It was during the third attempt that the extraction method had been perfected on well number fourteen.  This well stands alone as the forerunner of the sulphur industry on the Gulf Coastal area. 


The liquid sulphur is approximately 100 per cent pure as the melting process frees it from gangue and other types of impurities.  Even though there is a physical and a possible chemical association of sulphur and the surrounding mineral such as gypsum, limestone, and marl, the chemical affinity is not a problem while using the Frasch process because it is refined before it is extracted.  The difference in solubility of gangue and sulphur is so great that the gangue is washed away while the fine impurities will float on top the sulphur.  Louisiana sulphur has a distinctive yellow color while its streak is white and had a resinous luster. (25)  Its melting point is between 234° and 248° Fahrenheit. 


In a twenty-four hour period more than 3,000,000 gallons of water were used to keep from four to seven wells in operation.  The wells were usually placed in clusters as there was no regular arrangement except to utilize the steam.  (26)  Above the ground all the pipes from the various wells empty into a heated tank.  Pipe lines which are heated inside and outside with steam transferred the molten sulphur to the bins and when the sulphur cools it hardens into a gleaming yellow “mountain.” (27)


Some of the bins are 1800 feet long, 150 feet wide and 70 feet high.  Such a bin can hold 900,000 tons of sulphur.  Sulphur crystallizes in twenty-four hours.  It is broken up by dynamite for transportation.  When shipments were to be made a rough estimate of the amount to be removed was determined by counting the number of boards on the side of the bin, as each board represented a layer of so many tons depending upon the dimensions of that particular bin.  The boards were removed and small charges were placed and the solid was blasted.  (28)  This made it possible for the Mexican laborers to use picks and wheel barrows to load the cars.  This crude method of loading was later replaced by steam shovels.  The Union Sulphur Company also operated a small railway known as the “Brimstone Railroad” which had an intricate track system in the dome area. 


“From 1905 to 1912 the Union Sulphur Company in Louisiana completely dominated the American sulphur producing industry.” (29) The Union Sulphur Company brought in some large wells during 1913 but stockpiles were accumulating so a 50 per cent production goal was set for 1914.  From the beginning in 1903, operation was kept on a low-cost producing scale and by 1916 Louisiana began to decline as the ranking sulphur producing state.


In order to maintain operations, the following equipment was necessary to produce effectively:  there were seven power houses containing batteries of 750 horsepower boilers, giant compressors, powerful pumps, and heaters.  Over ten million barrels of oil have been used for fuel. 


There is a tremendous financial investment in plants, pipe lines, roads, barges, derricks, drilling equipment and supplies.  Once a sulphur plant is built new wells must be constantly drilled, new pipe lines laid, new equipment purchased.  A well can only remove the sulphur from an area less than one half of an acre.  Bleeder wells must be drilled in order to control the proper amount of water in a producing well.   It is necessary to operate twenty to forty a year to provide commercial production.


Well number fourteen “began ‘to-blow’ indicating that the flow of sulphur was inadequate to maintain a sufficient head of melted material in the sulphur line.” (30)  Well number fifteen yielded 101 tons and later thirty more tons were removed.  Well number seventeen had a cave-in and the drilling equipment was buried.  Well number eighteen had the ten-inch casing broken so it was abandoned. (31)  






Sicilian sulphur was in demand long before Antoine Lavoiser in 1772 proved that sulphur was an independent element and before it was officially added to the known group of elements after Gay-Lussac’s research.  The Leblanc soda process so improved the market that the Sicilian sulphur industry, even though it had a theoretical monopoly, could not meet the demand. Science caused this new demand by opening new fields for the betterment of mankind. 


The Sicilian output increased 80,000 tons and the price increased to $80 per ton.  This natural monopoly of Sicily almost caused a war in the beginning of the nineteenth century.  Pure sulphur and pyrites can be used to make sulphuric acid, so attention was directed to the latter. 


Sulphuric acid is made by the oxidation of sulphur or pyrites into sulphur dioxide (S to SO2).  The sulphur dioxide is changed to sulphur trioxide by means of a catalyst.  Then the sulphur trioxide reacts with water to form sulphuric acid (HOH + SO3 →H2SO4). There are two common methods of making this acid:  the Contact process and the Chamber process. The use of pyrites was comparatively new and experimental, so many producers were dubious. 


In the Contact process the sulphur dioxide is oxidized to sulphur trioxide, (2SO2+ O2→2SO3) in the presence of a solid catalyst such as platinum or ferric oxide.  If pyrites are used and if some traces of arsenic or any other poisonous impurity is present, it will combine with the catalyst and render it unfit for further use until it is purified; this would cause delay and added expense.  The oxidation occurs at 400° Centigrade temperature.  This reaction is possible at ordinary temperature and without the catalytic agent, but the time element is important and the yield would be poor and costly.


The Chamber process converts sulphur dioxide to sulphur trioxide by oxides of nitrogen (2SO2 + 2NO2 → 2SO3 + 2NO).  The reduced nitrogen recombines with the oxygen in the air to retain its original form in order to be used again (2NO + 02 → 2NO2). (2)


Producers of acids prefer to use native sulphur even though the price is higher because pyrites are expensive and troublesome to process.  Slow combustion in expensive roasters along with problems of cinder disposal and dust control are refining expenses to be considered in the cost of the finished product.  Weight and handling coasts are only half that of pyrites; consequently, about 70% of the sulphur mined and sold in this country is used in the production of sulphuric acid. (3)


Pyrites with some metal as the main product or by-product had to be selected if used in order to cover the expenses of refining.  The Gulf Coast sulphur is free from arsenic, solarium, or tellurium; and when in solution with water, it is almost water-white and chemically pure.


European nations gradually converted their plants to use pyrites, as international commercial theories were not always valid.  Germany changed immediately while the United States held off. In the United States after 1880, the fertilizer industry and the petroleum industry caused great expansion in the uses of sulphur.  Charles Goodyear invented the rubber vulcanization process, while the Swedish engineer C. D. Ekmann worked with bisulphite in the paper industry, utilizing wood pulp. Free duty on sulphur and the American interest in new processes caused them to cling to pure sulphur.


Under the crude manual methods used by the Sicilians it required twenty-one thousand men to produce the same amount of sulphur as four hundred men using the Frasch Process. (5)  The Sicilian miner received sixty cents a day while American miners were paid five dollars a day. 


The Sicilian workmen and producers had been subjected to considerable confusion and some bloodshed; therefore, they accepted an Anglo-Sicilian agreement.  Prices were held at a reasonable rate, but stock piles accumulated by 1901.  During the next five years there were still some uncooperative producers and shrewd business men, but the market gradually increased and the profits were large enough to absorb the financial “leaks.”


When the third period of Anglo-Sicilian agreement came, the stockpiles had increased to 557,588 tons and a new threat had to be recognized.  This was American competition.  The modern scientific American production methods caused Sicilian producers to economize and to institute mechanical devices for mining. (6)  

Prior to the development of the Louisiana sulphur mine the United States produced about one-half of one per cent of the sulphur used in this country. 


Forty million tons of sulphur valued at one hundred million dollars was an early estimate of the Calcasieu sulphur dome. (7)  This estimate caused wide speculation and many schemes and “wildcat” plans were formulated to reach this treasure, but the quicksand layer guarded it from human hands and was finally penetrated by indirect control of mechanical devices.


After much financial speculation and many unsuccessful mining adventures, 3000 tons of sulphur were actually produced in 1901. In a space of five short years the American production had forged to 218,950 tons.  The Union Sulphur Company of Louisiana was really the only American Producer of any consequence at this time. 


Herman Frasch, representing the Union Sulphur Company, went to London to try to reach a gentlemen’s agreement concerning the American market.  The directors of the Anglo-Sicilian company would not discuss the problem and clearly indicated that the competitive market was an open field and sales prices would determine the control of the market.


From the historic beginning in the latter part of December, 1894, when the golden-brown liquid flowed for four hours, until the fall of 1895, no appreciable amount of sulphur caught world attention.  There was a small hill of canary yellow sulphur located near the wellhead; and on April 20, 1896, the third attempt yielded fifty tons of sulphur in one day.  The well was in operation until May 26, 1896; then, during December of 1896 and a short time in the following February, it produced a total of 902 tons at a cost of $319,305.91.  It cost the company approximately $350 to produce each ton while it sold for about forty-two dollars per ton.  Production ceased until oil could be used for fuel.


In 1903 a low-cost production was instituted, and by 1906 the daily average output was 750 long tons per day.  America imported 110,067 tons of sulphur in 1894 and gradually increased this number to 176,845 in 1902.  In 1903 the Union Sulphur Company produced 23,715 long tons; then the imports dropped that amount.  By 1906 the annual American importation of sulphur declined rapidly to a little over seven thousand tons. (9)


In 1907 a conference was held in order to reach an understanding between the Sicilian producers and the Union Sulphur Company. Some of the European producers did not wish to believe that the Louisiana deposit would last for any length of time, yet the representative of the American interest realized the financial instability of his competitors.  Naturally the Americans were not wanted in European markets, yet the Sicilians wanted a share in American markets.  The Italian organization planned to flood American markets with Sicilian sulphur below market price in order to convince the Union Sulphur Company that Europe was a closed market. (10)


It resulted in a price war. The American sulphur sold for $22 per long ton and was reduced to $19 per long ton.  Herman Hoeckel, a German with a domineering personality, representing the Union Sulphur Company, demanded a share in Northern European markets and closed American markets to European companies.


Finally Frasch and Piltro Lauro, Director General of the Consortium, reached an agreement.  The Sicilian producers were to have two-thirds of the European market while American companies had but one-third; yet American markets were open.  Prices were regulated and the contract stipulated that it would be binding until 1918.


American produced sulphur entered the competitive markets of Europe in 1904.  This action caused a great deal of confusion, as the Sicilians had large amounts of sulphur on hand; and in order to meet the American prices, their prices had to be lowered, a change which meant financial disaster to them.  In 1906 the Italian government purchased the stock on hand from the Sicilian producers and passed a law which stated that all future production for export would be sold through the newly established compulsory Sicilian Sulphur Combine. The Italian government also ordered a 50% reduction on freight rates on sulphur for export. (11)


The Italian government sent an official mining engineer to survey the American deposits and production methods in Louisiana and Texas.  This inspector, L. Baldacci, made a careful, detailed tour, and on his return to Italy he reported that the Frasch process was practical and economical, also that American sulphur could be exported to Europe at a lower cost than continental sulphur could be produced, and that the American deposits contained approximately 10,000,000 tons of sulphur.


This report confirmed the beliefs that the American industry could bankrupt the Sicilian producers in spite of their strategical location in Europe.  In 1906 the compulsory syndicate emerged, as the voluntary agreement was a fallacy from the beginning. The 1905 exports had dropped 154,916 tons, and the complete loss of the American market was imminent.  The Italian government forced the Italian producer of the Mainland to comply with the rules set up by the Consortium. (12) It aided the producers to sell their sulphur for 370 lira or $18.50 per long ton to France and Spain in order to compete with the American producers. 


The Union Sulphur Company had its problems of fuel, extraction, transportation, and taxes; but they were solved.  Frasch proved to be a successful salesman as well as an ingenious engineer.  Production increased and stockpiles were started; so distribution became the focus of attention. 


 Sulphur was sacked for northern markets, while coastal and foreign trade was maintained by rail and by ship.  As early as 1905, steam shovel loading replaced the hand methods.  It was not uncommon to see twenty boxcars composing one train, departing for the Sabine River.  These cars had a capacity of fifty tons each.  Loading facilities at Sabine consisted of a thirty-six inch conveyor belt to masted schooners and steamships which had an average of 8,000 tons each. The gondola cars had sliding doors at the bottom which permitted a fast, simplified method of getting the sulphur into the hopper; then the belts carried it to the ships.


William R. Keever, drilling superintendent, was an expert in the art of sulphur mining.  His skill and judgment, along with John Henning’s management of the office, gave the Union Sulphur Company a successful combination.


Mr. Keever had several years of experience in drilling oil wells in Ohio and West Virginia.  He came to Louisiana and worked as a driller in the Jennings Oil Field and drilled four wells before contracting operations for the Sour Lake Oil Field.  The Union Sulphur Company purchased Mr. Keever’s drilling equipment and employed him as a superintendent of all drilling operations in January of 1905. He remained with the Company for twenty years and fought a continuous battle, but with his “mechanical know-how” he emerged as vice-president and general manager while the Company enjoyed a profitable operation.  Mr. Keever standardized machinery and operations which helped to lower productions costs.  He still lives in the town of Sulphur and is one of the last pioneers of early sulphur days in Louisiana.


Henning not only managed the office but acted as an adviser to Frasch.  He accompanied the famous inventor to New York and met Frederick W. Whitridge, the Union Sulphur Company attorney. These three men concluded that the Company had to sever business relationships with the Italian government because the famous “Five Sisters’ Law” of New Jersey was passed. This law made an international contract illegal between a corporation and a foreign government. (13)


Until 1912 the Union Sulphur Company not only dominated the sulphur-producing industry but had a practical monopoly
of deep sulphur-mining operations in this country through control of the Frasch Process patents. (14)


During this year 787,735 tons of sulphur were produced in the United States.  The Louisiana company is credited with 786,605 tons of this production figure.


With the increased production and exports the Union Sulphur Company established foreign sales offices and distribution centers in Rotterdam, Marburg, Cette, and Marseilles.  It also owned and operated a fleet of steamships which delivered the Louisiana product to the foreign ports.


The Union Sulphur Company built a refinery in the Erie Basin at Brooklyn.  Flowers of sulphur was the chief product, but experimental uses of sulphur in the field of agriculture were also contemplated. Francis H. Pough was placed in charge and he proved to be quite capable.  His work in the sales-service field is outstanding, as he initiated experiments with the Agriculture Department and established fellowships at Cornell University.  “Ventilated sulphur,” a new product of this plant, competed with the German light, fluffy form of flowers. (15)


In 1910 the Union Sulphur Company was assessed for $4,664,000.  (16)   This was the year that the Severance Tax of Louisiana was adopted. It affected natural resources such as timber, turpentine, and minerals which included gas, oil, and sulphur.  This revenue was paid into the Conservation Fund.  The Fund helped to defray expenses of public institutions such as the Insane Asylum and School for the Blind. (17)


It was on April 23, 1910, that the Lake Charles Court House was completely destroyed by fire.  The cause of the fire was attributed to the careless disposal of a cigarette. The Levingston Title and Abstract Company had had copies made of the records shortly before the unfortunate incident occurred.  This company is now known as the Mayo Company of Lake Charles.


The taxation of sulphur is a very difficult job even for exports.  When applying the Frasch process, the term “mining” is taken at its broadest sense, as this process is really refining and extraction. Levied on sulphur is a severance tax or occupation tax and the ad valorem tax which included the sulphur in the bins and the sulphur below the ground.  The Union Sulphur Company paid taxes on 1,000,000 tons of sulphur underground although it was doubtful it even existed.  Sulphur was finally placed on the same level with other resources such as gas and oil.  The Louisiana Constitution of 1921 stipulated that no new assessment would be placed on the natural resources.  Although the Union Sulphur Company had ceased to exist, the Louisiana legislature increased the severance tax on sulphur. (19)


In 1913 the total conservation tax on sulphur was $26,000 while the other resources of the parish combined yielded taxes amounting to $76,000. Special ward taxes amounted to sixty thousand dollars. The Union Sulphur Company produced 491,080 long tons that year and exported 89,221 tons.


Production decreased about fifty thousand tons a year for two years.  Exports and imports dropped also, but in 1916 there was a sharp increase in production and exports, while imports declined steadily.  During the years 1917 and 1918, over a million tons of sulphur were produced and exports were approximately 140,000 tons; the imports were practically nil.  The Union Sulphur Company was the major producer, and other companies used the Frasch process; so sulphur from imported pyrites was small, and even this amount was hampered by the European war.  The Union Sulphur Company expanded its holdings.


In 1920 the total assessed value of the Union Sulphur Company’s property in the town of Sulphur was $17,960, in Ward Four  it was $11,955,540, in Ward Five $1,860, Ward Six $160, and in Ward Seven $280, and in Ward Eight $1,000. The total was $11,996,800.  The millage figure was 20.38.


By 1922 the assessed value of all the foregoing property for state and local purposes at 100 percent actual value was $17,582,450.  The State received $92,307.86 from five and one-fourth millage.  The parish tax included four mills, a general school tax of six and one-half mills, road bonds of two and four-tenth mills, channel navigation millage, two and three-quarters, maintenance of roads and bridges was two mills while the intercoastal millage was one-half mill. The total received was $327,910.08. 


A special tax for school district eighteen was one-half mill which yielded $529.48.  Special navigation and other taxes amount to $2,161.87.  A grand total of $431, 371.58 in taxes was paid in 1922. (20)  In 1925 a University tax of one-half mill was imposed on the Union Sulphur Company.


Over five hundred wells had been drilled and the sulphur extracted by using hot water and compressed air at the Union Sulphur dome.  Although it cost the Freeport Sulphur Company only $6.15 per ton in 1917, the war saved the day for that company as it had originally issued 2,000 shares of stock to its parent organization, the Freeport Texas Company of Delaware. 


The war in Europe caused drastic changes in the American sulphur market.  The chemical demands for war research caused increased production and progress that could be used during peacetime.  The American acid producers that used pyrites quickly switched to sulphur.


Army and navy contracts created unnecessary expense in production and distribution.  In 1918 the Railroad Administration arranged to have trains deliver the cars to a certain point in the country; then these cars would be secured from this terminal by consuming plants.  Railways and ships had to centralize their activities in order to supply the vital war industries.  The director of the Bureau of Mines, Van H. Manning, sent an inspecting committee to the Union Sulphur Company and the Freeport Sulphur Company to record the stock on hand and to estimate future production.  They also arranged a quota to be sold for each company.  The Union Company received the lion’s share. 


Yearly and seasonal demands caused the price of sulphur to fluctuate although general business trends had a marked effect.  In 1916 sulphur was valued at $13.46 per ton, but the price increased as war expectation crystallized. In 1917 the Union Sulphur Company produced a ton of sulphur for $5.73 and sold it for $18.11.  By 1918 the price reached $22 per ton.  The War Industrial Board fixed the price at $18 per ton for governmental needs, a ruling in accordance with the Trade Commission. (21)


An embargo was place on United States sulphur, and domestic users were required to acquire a license to purchase this vital element.  The embargo restricted the United States paper industry to one-fourth its normal capacity because Canada could not purchase American produced sulphur.


The Canadian mills needed the sulphuric acid to process the pulp in order to export the final product. 


The Union Sulphur Company was located far enough from the coast, but the Freeport Company was within danger of an attack from enemy submarine raiders.  The War Department dispatched a company of troops to defend this vital industry and to keep the Brazos River area clear.  These troops were from the Texas Third Infantry. (22) 


The largest stock piles of sulphur in history were reported in 1915.  During the war the Union Sulphur Company led the industry in production.  The Freeport Sulphur Company was second when the Texas Gulf Sulphur company started operations near Matagorda, Texas. Production was curtailed at the Freeport Company which eventually led to its close in 1921. 


In 1922 the above companies organized the Sulphur Export Corporation.  This action was legal, as it was fulfilling the provisions under the Webb-Pomerence Act.  This corporation intended to help stabilize foreign markets and promote the sale of domestic products in Europe. (23)


The Union Sulphur Company’s progress can be traced to a general plan which was to be a major part of the sulphur industry of the whole world.  Extensive plans, expensive machinery, equipment designed especially for this process, also business and social considerations, were part of this general plan.  Finally state and national laws were enacted which made a contract with the Union Sulphur Company and a foreign government illegal.  This ended agreements which stabilized the world markets and promoted industrial progress. 


Frasch’s first patent was granted in 1875 for processing tin scrap.  This was the beginning of a series of patents which led to industrial development and improvement.  The inevitable occurred. Others attempted to extract sulphur by the Frasch process on which the patent had expired, but supplementary patents were still in force.  The Union Sulphur Company filed charges as an infringement on their patent rights.  The United States District Court upheld the charges, but the United States Circuit Court of Appeal (Third Circuit) reversed the decision, which decreed patents nos. 799, 642, 800, 127, 1008, 319 as invalid.


The court contended that the improvement patents implied the original ideas and were not true inventions.  In view of the fact that the original patent had expired, these supplementary patents would hardly be in accordance with the constitutional policy of promoting the progress of science and useful arts because they would have created a monopoly in favor of the Union Sulphur Company.


This decision was final; therefore the Frasch process became public property.  There are extensive sulphur deposits in Louisiana and Texas.  This decision was of paramount importance to the Freeport Sulphur Company. (24)  Charles Neave and Frederick P. Fish represented the petitioner while Elihu Root, Livingston Gifford, Samuel R. Betts, James R. Sheffield, and Joseph C. Fraley represented the respondent on May 5, 1919.


The Freeport Sulphur Company was incorporated in Texas on July 12, 1912, and became a real competitor of the Union Sulphur Company. Frank H. Browning, a mechanical engineer for the Union Sulphur Company, visited the Freeport Company and discussed the sulphur project with workers and a former employee of the Union Sulphur Company.  The sulphur deposits did not prove to be rich, and complications with the extraction developed.  They did not have an efficient field or office system. 


Charles Adam Jones replaced Ben Andrews, who had formerly worked for the Union Sulphur Company, as manager and P. George Maercky, a former bank cashier, became assistant manager in charge of general administration of the company.  This combination of Jones and Maercky placed the Freeport Company on an efficient operating basis.  (25) The Company had been operating only a short time when World War I got underway in Europe.


The Union Sulphur Company had rail service with the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Kansas City Southern Railroad.  These lines were connected to the mines by the company’s subsidiary, the Brimstone Railroad and Canal Company. 


The Company believed that the railway freight rates were too high; therefore, a canal from the mines to the Sabine River was started.  A twenty-four inch hydraulic dredge and an eight inch electric dredge were purchased to dig canals and reservoirs.  There were seven dredges in all. Finally an understanding with the railroad was concluded. 


It was necessary to fill the dome area periodically because the surface had sunk as much as twenty feet in some places.  A narrow gauge railroad with “dinghy” engines and small cars were used to haul dirt. The demand increased so hydraulic dredges replaced the “dinghy” railroad.  Because of the extraction of huge amounts of sulphur and the lateral movement of the quicksand, this is conceivable.  As much as 9,000,000 gallons of cold water a day were drained from the well in order that sulphur would melt.  At first, this water supply was obtained from Krause and Managan Company as it was more economical because they supplied the rice farmers in the area.  Once two large power plants, a machine ship, a warehouse, railroad tracks, and forty cottages had to be moved as they were directly over the sulphur deposit.


On August 6, 1918, a ninety-mile cyclone struck the town of Sulphur and the Sulphur Mine. It destroyed practically every building and slightly damaged the furnaces, boilers, and pumps.  The producing wells were interfered with temporarily as the derricks toppled over, while the corrugated roofs and smoke stacks of buildings nearby were blown down.  (27)  Shipments of sulphur were resumed on August 10, 1918, just four days after the catastrophe.  The officials in Washington were worried, but the storm did not hamper the supply of sulphur to the essential war industries.  The stock on hand was sufficient to allow the company about two months to get the damages repaired or replaced.


The Company suffered a $3,000,000 loss, while Lake Charles was damaged to the extent of $7,000,000.  There was a great loss of timber and serious damage to the mills.  The little French settlement, Portie Town, which was located near the mine, was completely demolished by the storm.  A number of homes in the town of Sulphur were destroyed or damaged, and the Union Sulphur Company assisted these people by supplying some material and labor free of charge to help restore suitable living conditions.  This outstanding event caused a great deal of overtime work and extra expense.


The Union Sulphur Company filed a suit against Calcasieu Parish, as their assessment was rather high.  During the years of litigation, 1921 and 1922, the taxes were not paid.  After legal adjustments were made, the Company paid the Parish $200,000.  This money was given to the School Board which was the basis for a surplus fund to meet unforeseen emergencies. (28)  The Board of State Affairs increased the assessment $19,000,000, as the Police Jury valued the Company’s holdings at $33,998,745.  This made a total of $52,998,745, while the entire parish assessment was only $86,998,745. (29)


Skillful drilling, maintenance of equipment, and careful selection of the plant facilities must be considered to keep costs at a minimum.  Skill and experience are of prime importance, as control at all times is necessary for efficient production.  Bleeder wells must be drilled, and filling hidden cavities is a constant problem.  A company that used as much as 8,000,000 gallons of water in twenty-four hours had to pump tremendous quantities of mud down special mudding wells to fill the cavities. (30)  Constant pumping and drainage is necessary to insure that proper control is maintained.  On one occasion a small levee had to be quickly thrown up and the water pumped into a reservoir in order to use the boilers.  To utilize natural subsidence the wells are drilled close together and near the highest point on the dome.


Some of the major expenses of the company were salaries, equipment, drilling, and pumping the wells.  During the month of February, 1919, pumping and storing sulphur costs amounted to $21,420.51, while drilling operations cost $5,819.  The Brimstone Railroad and Canal Company alone had $730.15 of the expense for this month.  These are but a few of the operating coast per month incurred by the Union Sulphur Company.  (31)


The Union Sulphur Company marketed about $200,000,000 of raw sulphur in the eighteen year of production.  The Company extracted as mush as 4,000 long tons per day which was valued at $22 dollars per ton.  After the sulphur operation ceased in 1924 oil production was started.


In 1926 oil was discovered of the perimeter of the sulphur deposit.  Even today one can visit the “Mine” and see oil wells pumping “black gold;” and the depressions caused by the sinking of certain areas are still visible.  In 1929 the company changed from the sulphur industry to the oil industry. 


Much of the sulphur mined by the Union Sulphur Company returns to the soil as the American farmer has realized the importance of sulphur in agriculture.  More than one-third of all sulphur produced is used in some phase of farming.


Its use as insecticides, fungicides, phytocides, and soil amendments causes it to be one of the most important elements.  It is a basic constituent of protoplasm; therefore, it is important to both plants and animals.  The plants absorb it in solution along with other elements in the process of osmosis.  Animals receive their supply upon digestion of plant foods.  Man uses it to grow his food, to destroy insects, and to combat disease. (32)


From 1960 to 1900 there was a thriving saw mill industry on the Calcasieu River.  In conjunction with the lumber industry and the railroad expansion, many people considered a deep ship channel from Calcasieu Pass to Lake Charles necessary.  J.B. Watkins, who built the Missouri Pacific Line from Alexandria to Lake Charles, considered the project, but lack of funds ended his plans.  Several years later the Kansas City Southern Railway initiated a plan for a twenty-foot ship channel from Calcasieu Pass to Lake Charles and expected to make this port their southern terminal point on deep water.  This company requested Lake Charles and industries in the adjacent area to vote an assisting bond issue of $100, ooo to help with the expense. (33)  The proposal was rejected.  Several attempts were made to interest the Corps of Engineers in this project, but appropriations for two ship channels, the Calcasieu and the Sabine, in the same vicinity, did not interest the government.


On June 19, 1922, the parish voted a bond issue of $2,750,000 to widen and to deepen the old channel.  Thirty feet deep and one hundred and twenty-five feet wide were the dimensions.  Although the United States government and Calcasieu Parish government were to share the expense, the Union Sulphur Company was not in favor of this measure.   Finally the Government was asked for $700,000 to complete the channel on a twelve-foot depth and a ninety-foot width basis.  The parish bonds were sold on October 20, 1923. (34)


This project placed the city of Lake Charles on a firm industrial foundation. The railway granted commodity rates on a mileage basis because of the deep water port.


It was at this time that the Union Sulphur Company went out of existence, as taxes were raised and it was not financially advisable to operate the mine.  The parish realized the importance of the sulphur industry, as the Union Sulphur Company owned a large share of the assessed property.  The company’s assessment in 1924 was $19,167,484.85. (35)  When this company ceased operations, it had produced approximately 10,000,000 tons.  The year of highest production was 1922.  During this year 1,146,860 tons were extracted.  (36)


Herman Frasch was considered the “father of the American sulphur industry.”  He was married twice.  His first wife was Romaldo Berks from Berks County, Pennsylvania.  After her death in 1869, he married Elizabeth Bles of Cleveland.  In 1912 he received the Perkins Gold Medal, the coveted prize of American chemists.  He died on May 5, 1914 in Paris, France.  His son-in-law, Henry D. Whiton was general manager, then president of the Union Sulphur Company.  George H. Wells was president in 1930; he was followed by the present Union Sulphur Company president, Herman Frasch Whiton, grandson of the famous Herman Frasch. (38)  






During the years of industrial experiment and development the Union Sulphur company has always considered and fostered the social and hygienic welfare of its employees, and the people of Sulphur City.


The marshy area surrounding the dome was drained and cottages were built for the workers.  Each home had artesian water piped to it.  This service was rendered free of charge.  The water was treated and filtered; therefore, everyone had an ample supply for drinking, cooking, and bathing.  These features along made the “Mines” a dry and healthful place in which to live.  In 1922 the Company employed J.B. Taylor, a refrigeration engineer from New Orleans, to install and to maintain an ice plant.


As production mounted, the personnel increased and approximately sixty per cent of the employees resided in Sulphur City. In addition to draining the area adjacent to the dome the company spent thousands of dollars on a drainage system for the town of Sulphur which was located two and a half miles southwest of the mine area. 


This company has complied with every state law concerning labor regulations and has gone beyond the legal standards set up for an adequate living.  In fact the Union Sulphur Company was considered a pioneer in social welfare by both labor and management organizations. (1)


In 1917 an eight-hour day was adopted, as some employees had a ten-hour position while others at pumping stations worked twelve hours.  This caused the Company to hire practically one-third more people.  In addition to shortening the working day, it set up a minimum pay rate which insured the workers as much money, perhaps more, than they made for longer hours.  An unskilled person would not earn less than three dollars a day, while skilled mechanics received from four to eight dollars a day.  During this year the Company employed 625 persons, five of whom were women. 


Mexican laborers received nineteen cents an hour in 1911, while a driller received twenty-five cents an hour during the same year.  By 1917 the unskilled worker received the amount cited above, while drillers were paid an average of seventy-five cents and hour.  In 1920 the average driller received one dollar an hour.  There were some exceptions such as William Petty, an outstanding driller.  He was employed at fifty cents an hour in 1904, and in 1917 his rate was one dollar per hour.  The Union Sulphur Company sawmill workers ranged from thirty-five to sixty cents per hour, and those with a team received seventy-five cents an hour. (2)  The Company paid their employees semi-monthly.  During December of 1917 the semi-monthly payroll was $31,000.


For the convenience of the employees the Company used payroll deductions for the following items:  rent, commissary, casino, ice plant, telephone services, bicycles, war saving stamps, Liberty Bonds, boarding house, and poll tax.


The children of the regular workers who were Louisianians were taken the two and one-half miles to the town of Sulphur to attend school.  They were transported at company expense in a Reo truck and trailer and later in modern school buses.  The Sulphur Elementary School was located in town.  Several years later the Frasch High School was built. 


The Union Sulphur Company officials in return for good wages, adequate housing, and skillful management won the respect and full cooperation of their entire force.  As a result of such measures as Christmas bonuses and special war bonuses, each employee realized that the Company was aware of his happiness.  Incidentally the Union Sulphur Company was the first large corporation to pay their employees a Christmas bonus and was among the first to institute the war bonuses.  (3)  There were many “cost of living” bonuses issued to meet the high cost of living instigated during critical economic periods.


The cottages formed a model little city equipped with running water, electric lights, screened windows and porches, also sanitary conveniences.  A nominal rent, one dollar a month for each room in the house, with free water and electricity, was charges.


There were no serious accidents reported, but several cases of severe burns were noted.  Safety measures were instituted from the very beginning.  A few accidents occurred in the town adjacent to the Union Sulphur Company, and these people were probably associated with the company but were not the company’s responsibility.


There were approximately one thousand men employed at he Union Sulphur Company during 1917.  About seventy-five per cent of the workers were natives of Louisiana, and were to be found in all departments.  Irishmen know as “paddies” were hired as laborers for hand labor in and around the plants while Mexicans were used to load the sulphur.  The Mexicans constituted roughly fifteen per cent of the personnel at this time.  


The Mexicans were of the better class and were selected in Texas.  They possessed amiable personality and were never antisocial.  These Mexicans lived in a settlement of their own called “Ole Mexico.”  This community had its own law enforcement committee sponsored by the Company. Estonilado “Lilo” Chansiz and his son, Pedro, were the Mexican officers.  Both of these men were widely known.  Pedro had a steel hook for a left hand.  “Lilo” Chansiz was popular because he had captured a gunman who had killed the deputy sheriff of Sulphur, Louisiana.  A temporary elementary school was established at the Mine for the Mexican children.  It began about October 4, 1920, and had only one teacher.  The last school session was held in 1927.


Miss Annie Laura Guillory was the first teacher at the Mine school and the enrollment was approximately twenty-seven students.  She taught for one year and was replaced by Miss Jennie Reimers, who taught for two and a half years.  Miss Alice Dugas finished the remaining year.  Miss Helen Lewis held the position for the 1924-25 session, and Mrs. Ola Silcott served the last two years. (4)  Vitorinio Betrand held private lessons for Mexican children in their homes. 


There were approximately seventy-five Spaniards living in “Old Mexico.”  The Spaniards and the Mexicans lived in the same area.  This community was located north of the railroad tracks.  They also worked together.  Mr. W.W. Lewis, foreman, reveled that they were good workers and were very cooperative. (5)  While on the job the Mexicans often exchanged lunches with the American and French workers.


For recreation the Mexicans would fish and hunt, also have dances.  Game was abundant in this area.  The Mexicans killed large amounts of fish with sticks, when the Company changed the water line from one reservoir to another.  This was possible as the reservoir was practically drained.


The “serenata” was popular among the younger set but all ages enjoyed the dances.  On special occasions such as September 16th, Mexican Independence Day, dances were held in three or four homes simultaneously. After the Mine closed the Mexicans departed for Detroit, Michigan and Brownsville, Texas.  Some returned to Mexico. (6)


Frank Recky, a barber of Mexican and French extraction, is the only Mexican in Sulphur, Louisiana at the present time, who had worked for the Union Sulphur Company when it produced sulphur.  He was a barber at the “mines.”  When the Company ceased operation he went to Detroit but returned to Sulphur, Louisiana a short time later.


On Labor Day and on the fourth of July there was a celebration in the form of a barbecue held in a grove of the cottages. There were various forms of entertainment such as boxing matches, bicycle races, climbing the greasy pole, catching the greasy pig and dancing in the pavilion.  From 1908 to 1920 the Company had a baseball team which played semi-professional teams from Longville, Leesville, Vinton, DeQuincy, Orange and Lake Charles.  These games were played on Sundays and on holidays in the ball park maintained by the Company.  The manager of the team was John Richardson.  The spectators usually contributed to help defray expenses and to entertain the players, as no admission was charged.  Basketball was also considered a major sport.  The team was coached by L. W. Pruitt.  Their uniforms bore the Union Sulphur Company’s symbol which was a devil and a pitchfork, representing fire and brimstone. (7)


Prior to 1840 practically all of Southwest Louisiana was known as Saint Landry Parish.  After that date a large percentage of this territory was named “Imperial” Calcasieu Parish, then in 1913 “Imperial” Calcasieu Parish was divided into four parishes; namely, Beauregard, Jefferson Davis, Allen, and Calcasieu. (8)   In the beginning Marion was the parish seat of Calcasieu; then Lake Charles.


The town of Sulphur, which was formerly known as Sulphur City, is located eleven miles west of Lake Charles on Highway 90.  Thomas Kleinpeter, a civil engineer, planned the town in 1878.  The first settlers in this territory were Acadians.  Later there was an influx from Mississippi and Alabama.  Some of the old established families were the Perkins’ and Hennings’.  


Until June 16, 1914, this community was sometimes referred to as “The Village of Sulphur.”  It was incorporated into a town on the above date. The population at this time was 1,702. (9)  Many of these people were employed at the Sulphur Company, while others were engaged in the rice, cattle, or farming industries.





Primary Sources



Assessment Roll for the Parish of Calcasieu, 1924, Tax Collector, Ward 4 and Sulphur, La.

Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the United States, Lawyers’ edition (October term, 1918).

“Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Court of Appeals and District,” in The Federal Reporter, CCLV (1919), 961-980.

Cash Journal (Sulphur, La., February, 1919).

Ordinance Book, Town of Sulphur (Louisiana, June, 1914).

Saw Mill Journal, Union Sulphur Company (Sulphur, La., February, 1920).

Snyder, J. Y., “Report to Stockholders” (Chicago: Louisiana Exploration Company, Inc., 1917)

“Union Sulphur Company versus Freeport Texas Company,”  Circuit Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, Nos. 2391-2392, 255 (March, 1919).

“Union Sulphur Company versus Freeport Texas Company,” United States Circuit of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Brief on Behalf of Plaintiff (February, 1918).

United States Supreme Court Reports, 63 Law edition, U. S. Nos. 248-250, (1919).


Contemporary Newspapers and Periodicals:

American Press (Lake Charles, La.), January 21, 1916; September 11, 1920; October 12, 1920; June 13, 1922; March 4, 1924.

Hazlett, A. J., “Past and Future Value of Domes in the Coastal Plain,” in the Oil Trade Journal, January, 1919, 78-92.

Lake Charles Commercial (Louisiana), August 21, 1890; February 2, 1895.

Marshall, John, “Where our Sulphur Comes From,”  in Logical Point, I (1910).

“Market of Sulphur,” in Engineering and Mining Journal-Press (July, 1922).

New Orleans Item, June 24, 1917.

New York Times, August 24, 1917; June 30, 1918.

“Our Sulphur Supply,” in Engineering and Mining Journal, CVII (1918), 421.

“Sulphur,” Engineering and Mining Journal, CVI (1918), 7.

“Sulphur and Its Many Rises,” in American, CXXX (1924), 259.

“Sulphur in United States,” in Nature, C (1918), 494-495.

“Troubles of Sicilian Sulphur Industry,” in Engineering and Mining Journal, CCIV (1922), 393.

The Weekly Echo, (Lake Charles, La.), April 29, 1875; October 31, 1875.

Willey, Day A., Technical World, IX (1908), 495-500.

Wooton, Paul, “Industrial News from Washington,” in Engineering and Mining Journal, CVI (1917), 30.


Secondary Sources


Biographical Dictionaries and Encyclopedia:

Chambers’s Encyclopedia, 10 vols. (Philadelphia:  J. B. Lippincott Company, 1927).

Columbia Encyclopedia, 1, vol. (New York:  Columbia University Press, 1935).

Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia and Fact-index, 15 vols. (Chicago: F. E. Compton and Company, 1950).  

Dictionary of American Biography, 20 vols. (New York:  Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928-1936).

Encyclopedia Britannica, 24 vols.  (Chicago:  Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 1947).

Encyclopedia Americana, 30 vols. (New York:  Americana Corporation, 1947).

Hutchinson’s Technical and Scientific Encyclopedia, 4 vols. (New York:  The Macmillan Company, 1936).

New International Encyclopedia, 23 vols. (New York:  Dodd, Mead and Company, 1930).

New International Year Book, 41 vols.  (New York:  Dodd, Mead and Company, 1907-1948). 

World Book Encyclopedia, 18 vols.  (Chicago: The Quarril Corporation, 1944).

Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia, 1 vol. (New York:  D. Van Nostrand Company, 1947). 

Webster’s Biographical Dictionary, 1 vol. (Springfield, Mass.: G. and C. Merriam Co., 1943).


General Works: 

Hayne, Irman D., The History of Education in Calcasieu Parish. Louisiana State University Thesis, 1933.  

Ferguson, Stewart Alfred, The History of Lake Charles, Louisiana.  Louisiana State University Thesis, 1931.  

Fortier, Alcee, Louisiana, 2 vols.  (Atlanta: Southern Historical Association, 1909).  

4,000 Years of Yellow Magic (Port Sulphur, Louisiana:  Freeport Sulphur Company, 1947). 

Gray, Carl William, Claude W. Sandifur, and Howard J. Hanna, Fundamentals of Chemistry (New York:  Houghton Mifflin Company, 1938).  

Haynes, William, The Stone that Burns (New York:  D. Van Nostrand Company, 1942).  

Herbert, S. Zim and Elizabeth W. Cooper, Minerals, Their Identification, Uses, and How to Collect Them (New York:  Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1943).

Hewitt, Edward Ringwood, Those Were the Days (New York:  Duell , Slorn and Pearce, 1943). 

“Jefferson Lake Oil Company, Inc., Sulphur Producers," Unpublished report (New Orleans: 1933).  

Magic Mineral Sulphur (New Orleans:  Freeport Sulphur Company).   

Peterson, P. D., Sulphur in Its Chemurgic Role (New York:  Freeport Sulphur Company, 1939).  

“Prospectus on Lake Charles,” Unpublished report (Louisiana: Lake Charles Association of Commerce, 1948).  

Shutts, Elmer E., “The Port of Lake Charles,” (Louisiana:  Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District, 1939).

"Sulphur," A Brief Survey of the Natural Resources of Louisiana (New Orleans:  Department of Conservation, 1931).  

“Sulphur Dome,” Twelfth Biennial Report of the Department of Conservation of the State of Louisiana (New Orleans:  Department of Conservation, 1936).  

Tarr, W. A., Introductory Economic Geology (New York:  McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1938). 

Thompson, James M., ed., “Sulphur in Louisiana,” Louisiana Today (Baton Rouge: The Louisiana Society, 1939).   

Walker, Talmage P., The Severance Tax of Louisiana, Louisiana State University Thesis, 1929.  

Wingfield, E. D., “Louisiana Sulphur Aids Defense,” Louisiana Police Jury, (April, 1941).


Newspapers and Periodicals:  

Bacon, Raymond F., and Harold S. Davis, “Recent Advances in the American Sulphur Industry,” in The Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, XXLV (1921), 65-72. 

Bauernschmidt, A. J., “Sulphur Mines and Mining,” in American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, XIV (1930). 

Boehm, B. P., “Sulphur Industry of the Gulf Coast,” in Texas Gulf Coast Oil Scouts Association, I (1930). 

“Brimstone Taxes in Louisiana and Texas,” in Time, XXIX (March, 1937).  

Burns, Homer S., “Building Grande Ecailde,” in Chemical Industries, XXXIV (June, 1934).  

_________, “Industry on Stilts; Constructing an Industrial City on Useless Tidal Marsh,” in Scientific American, CLVIII (February, 1938).  

Houston Chronicle, February 22, 1938.

The Laboratory, VIII (n.d.) 67. 

Miller, Ralph Lester, “Sulphur in Agriculture,” in Louisiana Academy of Science Proceedings, III (March, 1936).  

Montgomery, R. H., “Monopoly in Brimstone,” in The New Republic, CI (1939).  

Moresi, Cyril K., “Louisiana Sulphur Mines,” Louisiana Conservation Review (January, 1934).  

Preston, Stanley Wales, and William C. Gee, “Sulphur in Louisiana,” Louisiana Business Bulletin, I (March, 1937). 

“Science Aids Mining in Sulphur Field,” Progress (Louisiana), May 12, 1939.  
The Southwest (Louisiana) News, January 23, 1949.  

State Time (Baton Rouge), August 9, 1940.  

State Times-Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge), August 10, 1940.  

“Sulphur and Pyrites,” in Oil, Paint and Drug Report, CXXXI (February, 1937).  

Thompson, Charles L., “The Evolution Geophysics on the Louisiana Gulf Coast,” Oil, I (August, 1941). 

The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), April 30, 1939.  

Whiton, H. F., “Sulphur, Oil and Salt Development at Sulphur Mines,” in The McNeese Review, II (Spring, 1949).  

“Yellow Magic,” in Louisiana Conservation Review, VI (July, 1937).




The writer was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on September 5, 1921.  He attended F. T. Howard Grammar School and S. J. Peters High School in New Orleans.  His college education was interrupted by the war. He graduated from the Officers’ Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and served as an infantry officer in some of the European campaigns.  He received a B.S. Degree from Louisiana State University in February of 1947.  From February, 1947, to May, 1950, he was a member of the faculty at Sulphur High School, Sulphur, Louisiana.  He entered the Graduate School of Louisiana State University in the summer of 1947.




1.  4,000 Years of Yellow Magic (fifth edition; Port Sulphur, Louisiana:  1947), 9.
Carl William Gray, Claude W. Sandifur and Howard J. Hanna, Fundamentals of Chemistry (revised edition; New York:  Houghton Mifflin Company
      1937), 200.

  P. D. Peterson, Sulphur in Its Chemurgic Role (Jackson, Mississippi:  Fifth National Farm Chemurgic Conference, 1939) 2.
4.  4,000 Years of Yellow Magic, 1.
  Peterson, op. cit., 1.
6.  Ibid.
  The Laboratory (fifth edition: Pittsburg:  Fisher Scientific Co.), VIII, 67.
  Peterson, op. cit.
9.  4,000 Years of Yellow Magic, op. cit., 2.
Ibid. 3.
  William Haynes, The Stone That Burns (New York: D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., 1942), 72.
  Ibid., 80.
13.  Ibid., 91.
  Times-Democrat correspondence, Lake Charles Commercial,  February 2, 1895.
  Haynes, op. cit., 6.
  Ibid., 50.
  Haynes, op. cit., 6.
  United States Geological Survey Bulletin, 429.
  Historical article, The Southwest News (Louisiana), January 23, 1949.
  The Oil Trade Journal, January 1919, p.92.
  Haynes, op. cit., 7.
  United States Geological Survey Bulletin, op. cit., 102.
  John Marshall, “Where Our Sulphur Comes From,”  The Logical Point, I, 59 (August, 1910) .
  Haynes, op. cit., 12.
  Ibid., 13.
  Haynes, op. cit., 17.
  4,000 Years of Yellow Magic, op. cit., 4.



1.  William Haynes, The Stone That Burns (New York: D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., 1942), 18.

2.  Ibid.

3.  Ibid., 19.

4.  John Marshall, “Where Our Sulphur Comes From,”  Logical Point, I, 59, (August, 1910).

5.  Haynes, op. cit., 20.

6.  Engineer and Mining Journal, CVI, 7.

7.  James M. Thompson, editor, “Sulphur in Louisiana,”  Louisiana Today (The Louisiana Society, 1939), 66. 

8.  Haynes, op. cit., 28.

9.   Ibid. 30.

10.   Ibid.

11.  Jefferson Lake Oil Co., Inc.  New Orleans 1933, p. 3.

12.  W. T. Lundy, “Sulphur and Pyrites,” Industrial Mineral and Rock (New York:  The American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, 1937), 45.

13.  Haynes, op. cit., 38.

14.  Haynes, op. cit., 38.

15.  Lundy, op. cit., 846.

16.  Haynes, op. cit., 35.

17.  Ibid., 43.

18.  Ibid., 47.

19.  H. F. Whiton, “Sulphur, Oil and Salt Development at Sulphur Mines, Louisiana, “  The McNeese Review,  II, 34-37, Spring, 1949.

20.  Haynes, op. cit., 34.

21.  Ibid., 36.

22.  Cyril K. Moresi, “Louisiana Sulphur Mines,” Louisiana Conservation Review, January, 1943, p. 45.

23.  The Federal Reporter, CCLV, 961-980.

24.  Thompson, op. cit., 67.

25.  Lundy, op. cit., 845.

26.  “Science Aids Mining in Sulphur Fields,” Progress, May 12, 1939, p. 22.

27.  Ibid.

28.  Stanley W. Preston and William C. Gee, “Sulphur in Louisiana,” Louisiana Business Bulletin, I, 7, March, 1937.

29.  Ibid. 11.

30.  Haynes, op. cit., 41.

31.  Ibid.


1.  William Haynes, The Stone That Burns (New York:  D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., 1942), 328.

2.  Carl William Gray, Claude W. Sandifur and Howard J. Hanna, Fundamentals of Chemistry (revised edition).  New York, Houghton Mifflin Company,
1938. pp. 201-2.

3.  Industrial news, Times-Picayune (New Orleans), April 30, 1939.

4.  Haynes, op. cit., 327.

5.  Historical article, The New Orleans Item, June 24, 1917.

6.  William Haynes, The Stone That Burns.  New York, D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., 1942.  pp.96-99.

7.  Alcee Fortier, Louisiana, Atlanta, Southern Historical Association, 1909, II, 514.

8.  Haynes, op. cit., 100.

9.  Ibid., 70.

10.  Stanley W. Preston and William C. Gee, “Sulphur in Louisiana,” Louisiana Business Bulletin, I, 10, March, 1937.

11.  Ibid., 7.

12.  “Trouble of the Sicilian Sulphur Industry,” Engineering and Mining Journal, 1922, CCXIV, 393.

13.  Haynes, op. cit., 113.

14.  Preston, op. cit., 11.

15.  Haynes, op. cit., 113.

16.  John Marshall, “Where Our Sulphur Comes From,”  The Logical Point, I, 59, August, 1940.

17.  Talmage P. Walker, “The Severance Tax of Louisiana,” (unpublished master’s thesis, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1929), 5-10.

18.  Haynes, op. cit., 312-313.

19.  Haynes, op. cit., 254.

20.  Assessment Roll for the Parish of Calcasieu, 1924, Tax Collector, Ward Four and Sulphur, 17.

21.  News item, The New York Times, June 30, 1918.

22. Haynes, op. cit. , 144.

23.  Preston, op. cit., 13.

24.  “Union Sulphur Company Versus Freeport Texas Company,” United States Circuit Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, March 4, 1919, Nos. 2391-2, 255, p.45.

25.  Haynes, op. cit., 124-34.

26.  Haynes, op. cit., 313.

27.  “Our Sulphur Supply,” Engineering and Mining Journal, 1918, CVI, 421.

28.  Irman D. Bayne, The History of Education in Calcasieu Parish, (unpublished master’s thesis, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1933), 96.

29.  News item, American Press (Baton Rouge), September 11, 1920.

30.  4,000 Years of Yellow Magic (fifth edition; Port Sulphur, Louisiana: 1947), 8.

31.  Cash Journal, Union Sulphur Company, February, 1919, pp. 403-4.

32.  P. D. Peterson, Sulphur in Its Chemurgic Role, (Jackson, Mississippi; Fifth National Farm Chemurgic Conference, 1939), 4.

33.  Elmer E. Shutts, "The Port of Lake Charles," (unpublished address delivered before the American Society of Civil Engineers, Louisiana Division, November 25, 1946), Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District, 1-3.

34.  “Prospective on Lake Charles, Louisiana,” (unpublished report, Lake Charles Association of Commerce, Louisiana, revised July, 1948), 18.

35.  News item, American Press,  op. cit., March 4, 1924. 

36.  “Sulphur,” A Brief Survey of the Natural Resources of Louisiana (New Orleans:  Department of Conservation), 1931, pp. 23-5.

37.  “Sulphur,” Thirteenth Biennial Report of the Conservation Department, 1936-37, p. 352.

38.  Wesley Trahan, Personal Interview, Sulphur, Louisiana, July 14, 1950.


  Historical article in The New Orleans Item, June 24, 1917.
2.  Sawmill Journal, voucher No. 18, January, 1920, Sulphur, Louisiana.
  The New Orleans Item, op. cit.
  [no footnote included]
5.  W.W. Lewis, personal interview, Sulphur Mine, April 10, 1949.
  Frank Recky, personal interview, Sulphur, Louisiana, July 15, 1950.
  E. J. Busch, personal interview, Sulphur, Louisiana, July 15, 1950.
8.  Irman D. Bayne, The History of Education in Calcasieu Parish, (unpublished master’s thesis, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1933), 120.
9.  Ordinance Books, Town of Sulphur, Sulphur, Louisiana, June, 1914, p.20.




Profile of Artesian Wells, West Fork of Calcasieu River


Kirkman’s Well  Louisiana Oil Company’s Well  














Blue & yellow

Clay; some

Sand strata



Blue clay, sometimes

With layers of sand

soaked with petroleum

Port Hudson Group



Sand, with clay

Laminae 36 feet.

Sand and gravel,

56 feet



Loose sand and gravel,

138 to 153 feet very

pebbly; 153 to 173 feet

finer material

Orange sand Group



Sandy pine clay



Gray laminated clay








Blue, sandy, nodules

Limestone, with marine

Shells, petroleum  and


Vicksburg Group






Soft with crystalline

Crumbling limestone

Tube driven through







Pure crystalline sulphur







Sulphur and gypsum;


about one third

sulphur.  5-foot sulphur

bed at 650 feet; 10-15 foot

bed at 680 feet  

Cretaceous Formation






Pure gypsum, dome, granular,

And coarsely crystalline,

Grayish or white






Section at Sulphur Mine (22)  


  Thickness in feet Depth in feet

Dirt and sand



Clay and sand









Broken rock and limestone



Pepper and salt sand with sulphur crystals



The same – more sulphur



Fine, whitish, black-specked sandy layer with grains of sulphur



Sulphur and gypsum



Same as No. 8



Sulphur and gypsum



Soft sandy clay and sulphur



Light-gray fine material and sulphur



The same, more coarsely crystalline



Same as No. 12



Coarse dark-gray gypsum and crystalline sulphur



Same as No. 12



Nearly pure sulphur with some gypsum



Crystalline sulphur and gypsum



Whitish, soft (clay)



Sulphur and some gypsum



Same as No. 20



Sulphur and gypsum





United States Production of Sulphuric Acid (1)




Quantity Produced
50 Be Basis

(Short Tons)




Number of Establishments




































































Estimated Percentage of Sulphuric Acid Made from

Primary Raw Materials:  1885-1925  (4)





By-Products from Zinc

And Copper Ores 

Domestic Foreign



7 17 1



26 55 33



20 64 12



17 60 20



15 21 16



6 13 13



Sulphur in the United States:  1900-1924 

(Long Tons)












































11, 522














































































131, 092









































United States Production of Sulphur: 1891-1900  

(Long Tons)


United States

Frasch Process





















                  Sulphur Produced in Louisiana (37)


Year Number of Tons
1903  23,702
1904  80,142
1905 218,950
1906  288,560
1907   185,772
1908 362,896
1909 270,725
1910 246,510
1911 204,220
1912 786,605
1913 478,565
1914  374,470
1915 379,885
1916  383,065
1917 595,130
1918 918,700
1919 526,250
1920 37,635
1921 795,980
1922 1,146,860
1923 768,315
1924 39,230
1925-1931 No Production


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