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El Paso Corporation collection

Identifier: MS 0602
Finding aid note: Stored off-site in the Library Service Center. Contact for access and allow 24 hours retrieval time.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains audio/visual materials, images, publications, scrapbooks, and oversize material from the years 1920s-2011 related to El Paso Corporation. The collection does not include business records, apart from a run of annual reports in the Audiovisual, Image, and the Publication series. Particularly in the Slides Subseries A. The company’s employees are significantly present in these materials, and the company’s emphasis on safety training, the logistics of mergers, human resources, projects and pipeline locations, and community outreach are well documented. The El Paso Corporation Collection highlights the companies of Coastal Corporation, El Paso Natural Gas, Southern Natural Gas (SONAT), and Tennessee Gas Pipeline (Tenneco, TGP).

Series I: Audio Visual. The audiovisual series provides a well rounded view of the company, having a date range of 1929- 2011. The formats included are audio cassette tapes, VHS, DVD, reel to reel, and computer disks, with the primary format being VHS tape. The highlights of the collection include features on Elba Island, the Baytown Rupture, the Carlsbad explosion, and coverage of the mergers between El Paso Natural Gas and the companies: Tenneco, SONAT, and Coastal Corporation. There is also extensive video coverage on influential employee members, including interviews and speeches. Employees that are represented are: Doug Foshee, Paul Kayser, Jefferson Davis, John Somerhalder, Mark Leland, Jim Yardley, S.D.Chesbro, Sue Ortenstone, and William A. Wise. The coverage of people speaking tends to show more of the later CEO's than the earlier ones. Doug Foshee is heavily featured. Other events that are highlighted are the Mojave Project and on community outreach efforts including United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Sports Battle, and the Houston Marathon. There are also audio visual materials that highlight meetings, accounting principles (annual reports, quarterly reports,and earnings), and corporate events. William Wise is an important person included in this picture of the corporate environment. Another influential person is Mark Leland, who made contributions to the materials that are representative of the accounting practices of the company. There is a subseries of only partially identified materials. This section is mostly labeled; however the labels do not clearly identify the contents.

Series II: Images The image series is divided into Slides, Photographic Prints, and Negatives. The community within the El Paso Corporation is heavily emphasized here. There are employee photographs (headshots) throughout this series. The companies represented are: Coastal Corporation, SONAT (Southern Natural Gas), Tenneco (Tennessee Gas Company, TGP), and El Paso Natural Gas. The highlights are employee pictures, community outreach events, projects and pipeline locations associated with the company, Tenneco employee pictures, SONAT related images documenting community outreach as well as Coastal Corporation employees and events. This series also includes photo albums.

Series III: Publications The publication series includes: Magazines, Other related magazines , Annual Reports, Books, Newsclippings, History related print material, Seminars and Brochures, other related print materials to the oil and gas company, Interviews and correspodence, and other print materials, and research. This collection does not contain business records relating to the individual mergers or to the overall running of the company. It highlights the magazines and published work from the companies of El Paso, Tenneco (Tennessee Gas Company), Coastal Corporation, and SONAT (The Southern Natural Gas Company). Magazines included are El Paso's Natural Gas publication of the Pipeliner, Tenneco's publication of The Line, and Coastal Corporation's publication of The Coastal World. Also included are El Paso annual reports from 1948-1998, SONAT annual reports from 1944-1991, and Tenneco annual reports including 1958, 1961, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, and 1975. Other reports in this section highlight SONAT's annual report from 1953, 1954, 1962, 1969, 1974, 1980,1986,1988, and 1998. The SONAT-SPS Turbo Generator and SPM Common Wealth Edison Annual report from 1997-1998 is also included. A key resource in this series is the published book, The Pipeliners, The Story of El Paso Natural Gas by Frank Mangan.

Series VI: Scrapbooks The scrapbooks series primarily features Tenneco (Tennessee Gas Company, TGP). There are three scrapbooks dedicated to that company.

Series V: Oversize The oversize series encompasses the formats of photographs, negatives, text, and photo albums. This series highlights both Coastal Corporation and SONAT.


  • Creation: 1920s - 2011

Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

Stored off-site in the Library Service Center. Contact for access and allow 24 hours retrieval time.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish from this material must be facilitated through the Woodson Research Center.

Biographical / Historical

El Paso Corporation was a major oil and gas company in the Southwest US in the 20th century that had small beginnings. The company was founded in Jal, New Mexico, in the late 1920's by Paul Kayser and H.G.Frost. In the late 1920's the El Paso Corporation beginnings were characterized by a world in a time of excitement, hope, change, and a sense of drive. People were searching for a way to move on from World War I and there was a sense of determination. The age was noted by Scott Fitzgerald as "the greatest gaudiest spree in history" (Mangan 39). There was a change in gender roles with the Jazz Age and the birth of automobiles. At this same time, on May 28th 1923, there was a boom in oil in West Texas in the Great Permian Basin (Mangan 11). Two hopefuls filled with energy and ambition, Paul Kayser and H.G. Frost saw opportunity in New Mexico for natural gas and decided to set up lines in a little village named Jal, New Mexico. They worked very hard through difficulties and struggles to get this pipeline constructed. The eventual support from American Smelting and Refining company helped make the dream a reality. The first office for the team was the First National Bank Building. The building and the construction of the pipeline proved difficult as the terrain was rocky and uneven (Mangan 46). This type of pipelining was all done by hand and was very hard labor; it was something that was not documented previously as how to do it properly (Mangan 48). The workers were figuring out how to do it as they went on (Mangan 48). This pipeline would provide the city of Jal with six million cubic feet of gas a day (Mangan 69). The Great Depression hit the oil and gas industry during the early 1930's. The price of oil went down to ten cents a barrel. This resulted in families fleeing West Texas. The area of New Mexico was quiet and uncertain. The background of the Great Depression alerted Kayser to expansion.This was the way for El Paso to survive and expansion to the west was the answer. In the midst of company layoffs around the area El Paso was instrumental in being able to continue to hire men (Mangan 69). The company took a leap of faith and extended to Arizona; this move would be the start of future expansion. The extension was to add Bisbee and Douglas, Arizona and Cananera (83). Compressor stations had to be built because of the size of the expasion. The route would be increased to about 500 miles (84). In the late 1930's, after the Depression, the company fared well and increased natural gas production by adding pipelines throughout the Permian Basin. Construction improved significantly due to the availability of tractors instead of horses and carriages (101). Construction methods became easier and more reliable. World War II brought slow times. In the early 1940's work was slow but the company completed a pipeline for the Bureau of Mines. After the war, in the late 1940's there was an increase in production when California came into the founder's vision. This venture would bring about a 26 inch pipeline including West Teas, the Arizona/California Boundary near Blythe California and New Mexico (129). This period was very transformative. The workforce started at a mere 413 persons in the beginning of the year and reached 1,281 by the year's end (149). The environment of the company saw a shift from a small mindset to a far reaching one. The big venture that would identify El Paso as a corporation instead of a small business would be the San Juan Basin. After World War II California was an economic gold mine. The area was booming and people were becomming interested in its success from "the wages of the defense industries" (127). The San Juan Basin and the opportunity of natural gas here would transform the city of Farmington. Oil was discovered there in 1911 but the opportunity had not presented itself to begin construction (Mangan 151). This construction was announced by Paul Kayser to be a chance to make El Paso "one of the largest pipeline companies in the world" (151). This would build "423 miles of loop line to parallel the original California pipeline and supply an additional 100 million cubic feet of gas a day to Southern California" (152). This construction was done in 1954, which had the company serving "northern California through its San Juan pipeline (completed in 1951) from near Farmington, New Mexico across northern Arizona to the Colorado River"(164). In the 1960's-1970's there was continual growth and new pipeline construction. In the 1970's the company took on a project in liquified natural gas, that took the corporation to Algeria. The company was no longer an individual entity in 1983; it was bought by Burlington Northern Inc. In the early 1900s the company returned to being an individual entity under the reign of William A. Wise. Kinder Morgan acquired El Paso Corporation in 2011 and the CEO at the time was Doug Foshee. Source: Mangan, Frank. The Pipeliners The Story of El Paso Natural Gas. Guynes Press, 1977.

Biographical / Historical

Notable Individuals associated with El Paso, CEO's and other important people.

Paul Kayser, CEO (1928-1965) (His years of service extend to the mid 1960's): Kayser pushed to get natural gas to customers. He was natural gas's biggest adovocate. He was seen as "a man who is a conservationist in the broader and better sense because he helped conserve energy supplies as well as the talents and efforts of people around him, the prosperity of the Permian Basin and the future of his state and nation" (Mangan 41). He was the founder of El Paso Corporation with H.G. Frost as well as a lawyer and native of Tyler Texas. He was known to not have speechwriters and he would always write his own speeches. He believed in his employees as well as his corporation (Mangan 110).

H.F.Steen, CEO, January 15, 1965: In his youth Steen worked at the Jal Plant, the first pipeline of El Paso. In 1944 he became the assistant general superintendent of El Paso Gas Company.

William A. Wise, CEO El Paso, (1990's)He was associated with El PASO from 1984 to 2003. He had many roles in El Paso including chief executive officer, chairman of the board, executive vice president, and senior vice president. His was in charge when El Paso mergered with Coastal Corporation.

Doug Foshee, CEO of El Paso Corporation from September 2003 to May 25th 2012. He was in power when the company was sold to Kinder Morgan in 2012. He was CEO and Chairman of the company.

John Somerhalder: Executive vice president and president of Pipeline Group. He was involved with the company of El Paso for roughly 30 years. He also had an influence on the companies's entities starting in the position of engineer in 1977. He then rose to corporate executive. He interacted and helped with 3,600 employees. The companies that were under El Paso at the time were ANR, Tennessee Gas, Southern Natural Gas, Colorado Interstate Gas, WIC, and Mojave pipeline organizations. He also was there when El Paso set their sights on Southern LNG (Elba Island). H.G.Frost, (1928)In 1928 he was made Vice President and General Manager of El Paso. He was Paul Kayser's partner in the dealings of setting up the first pipeline.

A.L. Jr. Forbes, left El Paso in 1944. He was instrumental in the design and construction of the first pipeline in Jal. He was the Vice president (1935) and general superintendent of the company.

Jim Yardley: (1978-2012) He held various roles within Tennessee Gas, SONAT, And El Paso.

Source: Mangan, Frank. The Pipeliners The Story of El Paso Natural Gas. Guynes Press, 1977.


196 Linear Feet (196 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection contains audio/visual materials, publications, and photographs from the years 1920's-2011 related to El Paso Corporation. The El Paso Corporation system included Coastal Corporation, Colorado Interstate Gas, El Paso Natural Gas, Southern Natural Gas, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, and Ruby Pipeline.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Kinder Morgan on August 30th 2012

Guide to the El Paso Corporation Collection, 1929-2011
Lucy Sheely
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA