At the 1953 International Petroleum Exposition, a towering golden statue resembling an oilfield worker made its first appearance at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. The giant, nicknamed “The Golden Driller,” was funded by Mid-Continent Supply Co. and became a hit.
In 1959, Mid-Continent returned to the exposition with a second statue; this time, a driller climbing the side of an oil rig. The piece known as “The Roustabout” was officially retired and donated to Fairgrounds officials after the festivities that year. Like the original Driller, this statue was made of paper mache.
In 1966 all the IPE buildings were demolished, and a 10-acre exhibition hall was constructed. The new building was capable of hosting the entire exposition under one roof. A familiar, yet more permanent, guest would greet visitors near the entrance of the massive expo center: the Golden Driller we know today. An actual oil derrick from a dry oil field near Seminole was placed under his right arm.
After standing tall for 13 years, renovation was badly needed. The Driller had been vandalized and used for target practice, and weathered many Oklahoma storms. With the help of community fundraising efforts, the Driller was remodeled and strengthened in 1979 (seen here).