Teapot Dome Scandal comes to the Rockpile
Teapot Rock in the 1920s, before the “spout” broke off the formation that gave its name to Teapot Dome. Wyoming Tales and Trails. Photo courtesy of the Wyoming State Historical Society.
Picture a plot line that combines big oil companies with high-level government corruption and bribery. It’s not the latest drama being pitched for network television; it’s a presentation on a bit of Wyoming history that had nationwide impact that can be seen tonight, Jan. 10, at the Rockpile Museum.
Lucas Fralick, a 2012 graduate of Campbell County High School, has returned to Gillette to share his presentation, “The Teapot Dome Scandal.”
According to the Wyoming State Historical Society, the Teapot Dome scandal was the most serious scandal in U.S. history prior to Watergate.
Named for the oil reserves near a rock formation that looked like a teapot, southeast of the town of Midwest, the controversy began as the U.S. Navy underwent the process of transitioning coal-powered ships to petroleum power. Even then, scarcity of resources was an issue.
Fralick’s presentation is modified from a lecture he previously delivered to a freshman Wyoming history class at the University of Wyoming. He said the presentation will include something for everyone, from those familiar with the scandal to those who’ve never even heard of it.
“I’m hoping to bring to light the various murders that rose up because of the scandal,” Fralick explained. “The things that aren’t necessarily conspiracy theories, but things historians today are still debating this issue over how much did Harding know? Was someone hired by the oil companies to be rubbed out in some way?”
Fralick is currently working on obtaining his Master of Arts and History at the University of Wyoming and should graduate this spring, if everything goes smoothly with his thesis, which focuses on President Truman’s foreign policy.
“So basically, what the Truman administration did was to set up the policy networks that would form the core of future presidential administration’s policy throughout the rest of the 20th Century,” Fralick said of his thesis.
Fralick said he’s excited to come back to his hometown to share a subject that he’s passionate about.
He said Wyoming’s state history is especially important, given there are so few major national events that center on Wyoming.
“Our local histories really paint ourselves very uniquely per county, per town,” Fralick said.