Whatever happened to Standard Oil?

An abridged history of the companies that have marketed gasoline under the "Standard" name.

1911: The Standard Oil Trust is broken up. Among the company assets that are divided up is the right to use the well-known 'Standard' brand name.


Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony) was awarded Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York
Atlantic Refining (Atlantic) was awarded Pennsylvania and Delaware
Standard Oil of New Jersey (Jersey Standard) was awarded New Jersey, Maryland, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina
Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) was awarded Ohio
Standard Oil of Kentucky (Kyso) was awarded Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi
Standard Oil of Indiana was awarded Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas and northern Missouri
Standard Oil Company of Louisiana (Stanacola) was awarded eastern Louisana (New Orleans and vicinity) and Tennessee
Waters-Pierce was awarded southern Missouri, western Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas
Standard Oil of Nebraska was awarded Nebraska
Continental Oil Company (Conoco) was awarded Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico
Standard Oil of California (Socal) was awarded Washington, Oregon, Arizona, California and apparently the territories of Alaska and Hawaii

Other Companies that made up the Standard Oil Trust included The Ohio Oil Company (now Marathon) and Vacuum Oil Company

1941: After some consolidation among the "Baby Standards", the Standard brand name was in use in across the nation.


Standard Oil Company of New York merged with Vacuum Oil Company in 1931, becoming Socony-Vacuum. The primary gasoline sold by the company was Mobilgas. The Socony name was kept in the northeast, and Vacuum / Mobilgas in other markets. The company logo was Vacuum's red winged horse. The company expanded into the west and midwest by acquiring smaller oil marketers like Magnolia and General Petroleum.
Atlantic Refining declined to exercise its exclusive rights to Standard in Pennsylvania and Delaware, marketing itself as Atlantic in all its markets. Jersey Standard acquired the rights to Pennsylvania and Delaware, and marketed Esso products there through a wholly-owned "Standard of Pennsylvania".
Standard Oil of New Jersey
became known as Jersey Standard, and marketed their main grade of gas as Esso. Not long after that, Esso became the downstream identity of Jersey Standard. Jersey Standard acquired Stanacola not too long after the Standard Oil breakup. Jersey Standard also managed to acquire Arkansas and the rest of Louisiana from Waters-Pierce or its purchaser, Sinclair Oil. The Esso brand moved into Socony home territory by purchasing Colonial Beacon Oil Company, then changed the station's identity to 'Esso' without protest from Socony. Humble Oil of Texas was purchased and used as an extraterritorial marketing arm. Esso was used as the brand name of the company since the 1930's, with "Standard" above it on the sign out front. A second common corporate symbol emerged in the early days of Esso, the Tiger that is still used in modern times by Esso and Exxon.
Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) did not change. Sohio was on the signs, Standard Oil on the buildings.
Standard Oil of Kentucky (Kyso) did not change.
The signs out front read "Standard Oil Products"
Standard Oil of Indiana expanded, acquiring the rights to southern Missouri and Oklahoma from Waters-Pierce or its purchaser, Sinclair Oil. Indiana Standard also acquired the rights to Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado from Conoco. There was a strong alliance with Nebraska Standard. Indiana Standard also purchased the American Oil Company (Amoco), Pan-Am Petroleum and Utah Oil Refining (Vico - Pep 88) as extraterritorial marketing arms. The torch was chosen as an early symbol of the company, and the signs out front read "Standard Service".
Standard Oil Company of Louisiana (Stanacola) was acquired by Jersey Standard (Esso)
Waters-Pierce was acquired by Sinclair Oil, and the rights to use Standard in its territories were acquired by Indiana Standard, Esso, and Socal.
Standard Oil of Nebraska
was strongly allied to Indiana Standard, which surrounded it. It still retained a unique identity and logo.
Continental Oil Company (Conoco) declined to excercise its rights to "Standard", deciding to continue marketing itself as Conoco. Socal and Indiana Standard acquired the rights to 'Standard' in Conoco territory
Standard Oil of California (Socal) expanded, acquiring the rights to Idaho, Utah, and New Mexico from Conoco. Socal acquired the 'Standard' rights in Texas from Waters-Pierce or its purchaser, Sinclair Oil. Idaho and Utah were added to the California Standard territory, New Mexico and Texas were joined to become the wholly-owned subsidiary, "Standard Oil of Texas." Chevron was used as a logo and by Socal and an identifiying name by its extraterritorial arm, Calso (The California Company)

The Ohio Oil Company has used the name Marathon for downstream marketing purposes since the 1930's.

1961: America was on the move, and national television brodacasting made nation-spanning logo identity more important. Increasing effort was placed on market expansion as the Standards grew, along with the new Interstate System.


Socony-Vacuum eventually dropped its use of Socony in marketing, and concentrated on a name it could market across the USA, Mobilgas. The company came Mobil in 1966.
Jersey Standard (Esso) was stifled in its efforts to expand its market share by its famous name. Sohio and SOCal - controlled Kyso defended their 'Standard' franchises viciously, forcing the Esso name off new stations placed in their service area. The company invented the 'Enco' name to allow marketing in other Standard states. Sohio thought Enco was even too close to Esso, and forced Jersey Standard to use their Texas based Humble name in the Buckeye state. Humble became the holding company name for all downstream operations of Jersey Standard.
Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) expanded to neighboring states under the extraterritorial name of 'Boron', one of its grades of gasoline.
Standard Oil of Kentucky (Kyso) was acquired by Standard Oil of California in 1960.
Standard Oil of IndianaStandard - Amoco Pics absorbed Nebraska Standard. Indiana Standard decided on a common logo in 1946, an oval shape from subsidiary Amoco, and the torch from Indiana Standard. All stations were to use the new logo style, with different text for each unit. Amoco became American, Pan-Am Petroleum became Pan-Am. Utah Oil Refining became Utoco, and Indiana Standard simply Standard. As time went on, the company retired the Pan Am and Utoco names, leaving Standard in the midwest, and American as the sole extraterritorial marketing arm. Between Standard and American in the Torch-and-Oval, Indiana Standard expanded its operations to the 48 contiguous US states. The energy crisis of the 1970's forced Indiana Standard to pull back from many states where it had only a marginal presence.
Standard Oil of Nebraska was absorbed by Indiana Standard.
Standard Oil of California (Socal) expanded, acquiring Standard Oil of Kentucky in 1960. The 'Standard' name was maintained in the new territory as well as the old, with the addition of a Chevron-type logo in the former Kyso.

Atlantic merged with Richfield Oil in 1966, creating Atlantic Richfield Company, commonly known as Arco. Arco purchased Sinclair Oil in 1969 and aborbed it.
Ohio Oil Company officially changed its name to Marathon Oil in 1962.

1999: Global competion in the petroleum industry alows for more consolidation in the former Standards.


Mobil (ex- Socony - Vacuum) merged with Exxon, the former Jersey Standard / Esso, in 1999.
Esso / Jersey Standard was not happy not being able to market as Esso. Humble did not have the right zip to it either. Enco sounded bad in Japanese. ("Stalled Car" is the nicer tranliteration I have heard.) The company brainstormed, looking for a new name close to Esso, but with no current meaning in other languages. They came up with Exxon.
Starting in 1972, Jersey Standard changed its name to Exxon, and rebranded their US stations to this new corporate identity. Esso is still used by the company outside of the United States, but the Standard name was officially gone from the US operations of the former holding company of the Standard Oil Trust. Exxon merged with Mobil, the former Socony, in 1999. The resulting company is called ExxonMobil. No word yet on which logo will be the company's mascot, the Tiger or the Pegasus. The company website has information on both. Exxon / Esso has a long-standing commitment to the Tiger, and seems to be the leader in the merger. Mobil's Pegasus logo has a history goes back to the pre-1911 Standard Oil Trust days as a corporate symbol.
Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) was purchased by British Petroleum (BP) in 1987. The BP logo went up on Sohio stations, and BP spread across the USA. Standard Oil disappeared in Ohio. In the southeastern US, BP acquired many former Gulf Oil stations from Chevron, who already had adaquate market penetration in that area. In 1998, BP purchased another former Standard, Amoco.
Standard Oil of Indiana
decided to make 'Amoco' its national brand and corporate identity in 1971, and started changing its stations to the new name. The corporation left a few, or permitted a few to remain, branded 'Standard' to ensure no one else would claim the name. BP merged with Amoco in 1998, becoming BPAmoco. 1999: Plans are to convert all assets of both companies in the USA to the Amoco brand name, and BPAmoco assets in the rest of the world, including former Amoco assets, will be BP. UPDATE March 16, 2000: The current plan: Drop the Amoco name, the "Torch and Oval" logo, and any claim to 'Standard'. It will all be BP, sadly.
Standard Oil of California
(Socal) decided to make 'Chevron' its national brand and corporate identity in 1984, and started changing its stations to the new name. The corporation leaves a station in every state branded 'Standard' to ensure no one else will claim the Standard brand name (Including Esso). Chevron expanded in the northeast and southeast by purchasing Gulf Oil in 1984.

Arco has been mentioned as a possible merger target by BPAmoco. In 1982, Arco spunoff its eastern former Atlantic territory into a new 'Atlantic'. This new Atlantic ended up purchased by Sunoco.
Conoco is still in operation after being purchasd by DuPont in 1981 then partially spun back off in 1999. DuPont still controls almost 70% of the company. They have also adopted a new mascot, the 'fast cat.' - a house cat.
Marathon is still in operation. US Steel purchased Marathon in 1982, and separated Marathon's stock from its own in 1992. Marathon has been in a joint venture with Ashland Oil for downstream operations since 1998 (MAPLLP). Marathon-Ashland controls SuperAmerica, Speedway, Starvin' Marvin and Bonded stations as well as the company flagships, Ashland and Marathon.
The current incarnation of
Sinclair Oil is related to the one that bought Waters-Pierce. It is made up largely of former Sinclair assets spun off from Arco. They kept the dinosaur logo of the old company and list Sinclair's pre-Arco history on their website. It is part of the same Arco divestiture that briefly brought back Atlantic.

Invaluable data (i.e. just about everything) provided by
Mark Bozanich, Mark J. Cuccia, and various oil company websites linked above.
Many corporate logos adapted from John Cirillo's
Gas Signs page.
Also thanks to Jon Enslin, Bruce B. Reynolds and Mark Potter, whoes knowledge and experience added to and improved the information above.

To US highways U.S. Highways: From US 1 to (US 830) Host site of this webpage and many others.

If you any have thoughts, comments, additions, or suggestions, Click here to E-mail Robert V. Droz, who maintains this site.

This page posted February 8, 2000 by RVD.

This page last edited Tuesday, March 28, 2000 11:01:00 AM Eastern Standard Time