Oil! Oil! And More Oil! And a Cathedral.

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Oil is a big deal in Texas, and has been for decades. Because Texas is the focus of many of the SWC’s collections, it should come as no surprise that many of our collections relate to the oil industry. One of our largest is the Land Rig Newsletter Records. Filling 113 boxes, the collection consists not only of copies of the titular newspaper, but research material, data, maps, and artifacts related to the publication. It also contains several boxes that seem out of place relating to the collection’s author, Richard Mason’s, collaboration on an art history book entitled Mystical Themes in le Corbusier’s Architecture in the Chapel Notre Dame Du Haut at Ronchamp: The Ronchamp Riddle. More on that mouthful in a moment, but first the tale of Land Rig Newsletter.

Richard Mason, was the owner and publisher of the Newsletter, publishing his first issue in October, 1992. It soon became a standard in the industry, documenting rig counts, owners, service industry information, and a slew of technical data in each issue. He even developed metrics that provided greater transparency to the formerly opaque U.S. onshore drilling services market. These innovations would net him gigs as an oil and gas consultant, and later senior positions at various prominent oil companies

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Mason’s story took a tragic turn on September 11, 2001. Many of The Land Rig Newsletter’s subscribers were located in the World Trade Center towers in New York City. As a result of the terrorist attacks, it lost most of its subscription base. Over the next several years it struggled to meet its costs, but in August 2009 Mason sold it to competing publisher Rig Data. Few collections come to the SWC with such a story in tow.

Land Rig firetruck

The Newsletter’s history is not all doom and gloom. Along with the boxes full of newsletters and Mason’s research material came several artifacts, including this workover (well servicing) rig/mobile drill rig. Needless to say, toys are a welcome addition to our stacks.


The last of the Richard Mason material that we processed revolved around something completely unrelated to The Land Rig Newsletter, or to the oil industry at all for that matter. Mason had received his BA in History from Ohio University, and never lost his passion for the study of that subject. As a result, he collaborated with Robert Coombs to compose Mystical Themes in le Corbusier’s Architecture in the Chapel Notre Dame Du Haut at Ronchamp: The Ronchamp Riddle.  Coombs was a scholar of art and architecture who, among other accolades, had received a Fulbright grant to help complete his work, and was also the editor of Perspecta, the Yale Architectural Journal. The Ronchamp Riddle (also found in our Robert Coombs Papers), in short, explores the themes and motifs of architect Le Corbusier’s most controversial work, the Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp.

The Land Rig Newsletter Records are a wealth of information on the oil industry. If you’re interested in diving deeper into it, our Reference Department is always happy to get them into your hands.