Interesting Historical Facts
Lion Oil Company was established in 1922. Thomas Harry (Colonel) Barton was instrumental in the development of the company.
Lion Oil is an El Dorado (Union County) corporation that refines and produces oil, gasoline, and other oil-based products. Its products include not only fuels and asphalt but industrial solvents and oil-based roofing products. Lion is a major employer in southern Arkansas, with more than 500 employees.
When the oil boom began in southern Arkansas in 1920, Colonel Thomas Harry Barton, a Texas native, came to El Dorado and began investing in the emerging industry, organizing the El Dorado Natural Gas Co. In 1922, he took over a small refinery in El Dorado that became the Lion Oil and Refining Co. Initially, the refinery produced 2,000 barrels per day and employed twenty-five people. Reportedly, Barton decided to call the company “Lion Oil” because of his fondness for wordplay; the name of the company is a palindrome, spelled the same forward and backward.
The next year, the company was incorporated as Lion Oil Refining Co. The company grew rapidly. The 1923 discovery of the Smack over Field just to the north of the booming oil fields around El Dorado added to the oil frenzy across southern Arkansas.