The Origin of Wood River Refinery
In 1912 Royal Dutch Shell entrepreneurs formed the Roxana Petroleum Company in Oklahoma to find, produce, and refine petroleum (crude oil) as well as market Shell Oil products in the central United States. The St. Louis region was anticipated to be a large customer base which included significant rail and river traffic infrastructure, so in 1917 Roxana Petroleum began constructing a refinery on 172 acres of farmland southeast of Wood River, Illinois. (Standard Oil Company had already constructed a refinery nearby.) The Village of Roxana (named after the company) was built for the workers because of sparse housing in the area. At the same time Roxana Petroleum began constructing a 10 inch diameter pipeline from its Oklahoma oil fields to the refinery, over 400 miles away. The first shipment of crude oil via the pipeline was received on July 31, 1918. Wood River Refinery began operation when Trumble distillation unit no. 1 (rated 5,000 barrels per day) was fired up on September 20 and the first refined products – eleven tank cars of fuel oil – were loaded on October 5 of the same year.