The Golden Driller stands tall before the IPE building, a proud testament to Tulsa's petroleum legacy.
Golden Driller cuts an impressive figure. Weighing in at 43,500 lbs
of concrete, plaster, and 2.5 miles of steel mesh, this wildcatter
stands 76 feet tall. His hard hat size is 112, his shoe size is
393DDD, his belt size is 48 ft, and he is the fifth tallest statue in
the United States. The Driller has had several incarnations over the
years, with the first appearing in 1953. He was built by the
Mid-Continent Supply Company of Fort Worth for the International
Petroleum Exposition, which took place Tulsa that year. The 1959
Driller looks not unlike a trophy, and he seems to be making an
“okay!” sign with his right hand, in a nod to the state hosting
the exhibition. He was a huge hit with the expo attendees and the
city of Tulsa. But alas, the 1959 Driller was a temporary
installation, and he was removed after the expo ended.
overwhelmingly positive audience response to the Driller prompted
Mic-Continent Supply Co. bring him back for the 1959 expo, albeit in
a drastically altered form. The 1959 Driller was sleek, angular,
chiseled, and posed in the motion of climbing an oil derrick, not
unlike King Kong climbing the Empire State building. Again, the
audiences loved the Driller. So much so, that Mid-Continent donated
it to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds which hosted the IPE. Once more,
the Driller was deconstructed and stored until the next exposition.
final version of the Driller was installed for the 1966 IPE. Again,
he had changed. The Driller had kept his sleek, chiseled, angular
features, but rather than climbing wildly to reach the top, this
Driller stood solidly beside an oil derrick, with his arm draped
across the top in a casual gesture of conquest and mastery. This
time, the structure was an actual oil derrick from Seminole, OK,
which was decommissioned after the oil field it resided in went dry.
The Driller, like the Tulsa petroleum industry, had matured. A
commemorative plaque was installed at the base of the new statue. The
inscription reads: The Golden Driller, a symbol of the
International Petroleum Exposition. Dedicated to the men of the
petroleum industry who by their vision and daring have created from
God's abundance a better life for mankind. Tulsa's Golden
Driller was adopted by the Oklahoma Legislature as the state monument
As far as stationary landmarks go, the Golden Driller has been among
the most interactive landmarks in history. Local businesses have
festooned him with ties, belts, and hatbands. Local media outlets and
charity groups have draped the Driller in custom-designed T-shirts.
Of course, the Golden Driller has also had his share of upsets.
Tornadoes, shotgun blasts, and flat-out neglect have intermittently
plagued the stoic roughneck, but since the 1979 refurbishment of the
Driller, Tulsa County has maintained preservation efforts to keep the
iconic landmark in good shape. In 2011, Bill Haynes Company repaired
and repainted the Driller, patching the plaster and concrete dents
and refreshing his golden hue before applying a waterproof,
“lifetime” coating of protective sealant.