William Larimer Mellon

William Larimer Mellon Sr. (1 June 1868–October 1949), sometimes referred to as W. L., was a founder of Gulf Oil.


Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 1, 1868 to James Ross Mellon, eldest son of Judge Thomas Mellon, and Rachel Larimer Mellon, daughter of railroad and land baron William Larimer, Jr. He spent part of his childhood in the West with his uncle Andrew W. Mellon, who deeply influenced him. In the 1880s he developed an interest in the burgeoning petroleum industry in Pennsylvania, but his nascent oil company was bought out by John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil in 1895.

When oil was discovered in Spindletop, Texas in 1901, the Mellon family invested in the well. When the well began to decline in 1902, W.L. was dispatched to investigate, and took on a progressively larger role in management. In January 1907 he established the Gulf Oil Corporation, which proceeded to build a pipeline from Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas and was shipping Oklahoma crude oil to port by September. It expanded steadily thereafter, becoming one of the largest oil companies in the United States.

In 1949 Mellon established the a graduate school of industrial administration at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, which is today the David A. Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. He died in October of that year.

Personal life

Mellon married Mary Hill Taylor, they had four children: Rachel Mellon Walton, Margaret Mellon Hitchcock, William Larimer Mellon Jr., and Matthew Mellon.


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