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Sinclair Oil has a long history of being a fixture on American roads (and briefly in other countries) with its dinosaur logo and mascot, an apatosaurus (brontosaurus).Sinclair, a Great Name in Oil (1916 – 1969)
At the Chicago World's Fair of 1933-34, Sinclair sponsored a dinosaur exhibit meant to point out the correlation between the formation of petroleum deposits and the Age of Dinosaurs, and included a two-ton animated model of a brontosaur. The exhibit proved so popular it inspired a promotional line of rubber brontosaurs at Sinclair stations, complete with wiggling heads and tails, and the eventual inclusion of the brontosaur logo. Later, inflatable dinosaurs were given as promotional items and an anthropomorphic version appeared as a station attendant in advertisements. In 1955, Sinclair was #21 on the Fortune 500, but by 1969, it had fallen to #58.The Teapot Dome Scandal
During the decade of the 1920's, the Sinclair organization became involved in the Teapot Dome controversy. A contract to develop naval oil reserve lands in Wyoming was awarded in 1922 to Mammoth Oil Company, a structure organized by Mr. Sinclair to operate in Teapot Dome. Sinclair Consolidated Oil Corporation, as the holding company was known then, traded 250,000 of its common shares for a 25 percent interest in Mammoth, with an option on sufficient additional stock to assure ultimate control. In 1924, Sinclair pipeline Company (50 percent owned by Sinclair Consolidated Oil Corporation) extended its system 700 miles to Wyoming, at a cost of about $21 million. Under Mammoth's obligation to the government, oil terminal facilities were constructed at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Navy Yard costing $1,340,000.
Alleging fraud in the award of the Teapot Dome contract, the government sued in 1924 to cancel the arrangement with Mammoth. The trial court held the lease legal and dismissed the complaint; but in 1927 the U.S. Supreme Court, on appeal, voided the contract on technical grounds, though finding "no direct evidence of fraud." A jury which deliberated only forty minutes acquitted Mr. Sinclair of a criminal charge of conspiracy to defraud. The use by Mr. Sinclair of private detectives to keep the jury under observation during the trial drew a sentence for contempt of court. During the long controversy, Mr. Sinclair gave 175,000 words of testimony before twelve legislative committees, disdaining the fifth amendment; but for refusing to answer one question which his counsel considered not to be pertinent to the legislative inquiry, Mr. Sinclair was held to be in contempt of the Senate. On the contempt citations, he spent six and one half months in the Washington, D.C. House of Detention in 1929.
Both Mr. Sinclair and Mammoth Oil Company lost heavily in the Teapot Dome venture, the naval reserves being unprofitable. In 1928, Mr. Sinclair voluntarily returned to Sinclair Consolidated the 250,000 shares it had invested in Mammoth, plus $400,000 paid in dividends. During the entire seven years of the Teapot Dome-Mammoth Oil Company dispute, Mr. Sinclair continued as chairman and chief executive officer of Sinclair Consolidated, with the unanimous support of his directors, who tendered him a public vote of confidence as he left New York to serve his sentence.Sinclair and Atlantic Richfield (1969 – 1976)
In 1969, Sinclair was acquired by the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO). Federal anti-trust provisions required the new entity to divest itself of certain of the Sinclair assets, and as a result, the East Coast operations of Sinclair were sold to BP (Ironically, BP has since purchased ARCO). After the acquisition by ARCO, the dinosaur was phased out, but at least one service station, in Winona, Minnesota, retained the original look through the 1980s.Sinclair and Earl Holding (1976 – Present)
In 1976, ARCO spun-off Sinclair by selling certain assets to Earl Holding. Assets divested in the spin-off included ARCO's retail operations from the region between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, and the rights to the Sinclair brand and logo, resulting in many stations along Interstate 80 keeping the dinosaur logo.
Sinclair has been owned by the Holdings since 1976. Earl Holding also owns Sun Valley Resort in Idaho, Snowbasin Resort in Utah, the Little America hotels, the Westgate Hotel in San Diego, California, and the Grand America Hotel, a five-diamond hotel and member of the Leading Hotels of the World, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Currently headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, Sinclair ranks #38 among the largest private companies in the United States. There are 2,607 Sinclair gas stations in 20 states in the western U.S. and the Midwest. The corporation operates three refineries: one in Casper, Wyoming, one in Sinclair, Wyoming (near Rawlins), and another in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Other operations include 1,000 miles of pipeline.
Sinclair continues to use the green dinosaur, affectionately called "Dino", and markets all its products under the logo. Sinclair patented the gasoline additive SG-2000. The high-octane fuel blend is called "Dino Supreme".References to Sinclair in Popular Culture
In the animatronic TV series Dinosaurs, the last name of Earl and his family is Sinclair, after the oil company. A number of other characters on the show also had names that were petroleum-related references, such as Earl's boss "B.P. Richfield".
In the 2006 movie Cars, Sinclair and Sunoco were parodied: the main sponsorship for the winning car was from a company called "Dinoco", using a similar logo to Sinclair's brontosaurus and name to that of Sunoco. Dinoco was earlier the name of the gas station in Toy Story, another Pixar production.
In the computer game Interstate '76, one of the fictitious gas station chains was named "Sincere" and featured an armadillo on his logo instead of the dinosaur.NY-New York Oil Companies Gas Stations Scandals and Collapses Under $10 Under $5 Bird Featured Eagle Featured