Our History

1859

First oil well in the United States is drilled by William “Uncle Billy” Smith for Edwin L. Drake in Titusville, Pennsylvania. The 69-foot well produces 15 barrels of oil per day.

1861-1865

U.S. Civil War

1882

Standard Oil Company is created.

1893

Rudolph Diesel builds his very first model of a diesel engine and continues to make improvements during the following years.

1898

Spanish American War; Rudolph Diesel receives a patent for an “internal combustion engine” (Diesel engine).

1902

Texas Fuel Co. is founded (eventually Texaco).

1908

Henry Ford builds the very first Model T.

1909

The kerosene-powered Aladdin model 1 lamp is invented, providing bright white light to rural America where half of the 92-million population lives.

1910

Dr. Walter Snelling identifies propane.

1911

The production of propane is patented by Dr. Walter Snelling.

1912

Dr. Walter Snelling and colleagues establish the American Gasol Co., the first commercial marketer of propane; Standard Oil Co. establishes the first gas station in Cincinnati; Rudolph Diesel delivers a speech stating, “the use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today, but such oils may become, in the course of time, as important as petroleum and the coal-tar products of the present time.”

1914

WWI begins

1918

WWI ends.

1919

history-2Lou Hilton “LH” Foster Sr. & LW Roark Sr. start Brookneal Oil Company, delivering flour, ice, and five-gallon cans of lamp oil to the Brookneal area by ox-drawn cart. LH Foster Sr. was a WWI veteran.

1920

8.5 million automobiles and trucks are registered in the United States.

1921

LH and LW split the company. LH assumes the oil business and—with his wife, Queenie “Inez” Foster—they continue to grow the business. LH & Inez have a son, LH Jr. Brookneal Oil becomes a consignee with Texaco (first Texaco consignee in the area).

One of the original trucks bought for the company is located in front of the Brookneal office today.

1923

First trucks with diesel engines are built by Benz, Daimler, and MAN.

1925
history-3
1928

The first bobtail truck is built to transport propane.

1929

The U.S. stock market crashes, causing the Great Depression to begin.

1930
history-1930
1932

Propane is used to fuel all the appliances for cooling and heating the water in the Olympic Village at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.

1935
history-1935
1936

LH Sr. and Inez have another son, Watt “Bobby” Foster Sr. Both boys eventually join operations.

1938

Oil deposits are found in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

1939

WWII begins

1940
history-1940
1941

history-1941Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.

1942

Gasoline rationing along the Atlantic seaboard as a result of the war.

LH Jr. enlists for WWII through the ROTC program while still attending Virginia Tech. He loses ½ his leg while in service.

1945

history-1945WWII ends; gasoline rationing ends.

1945-1950

history-1946Brookneal Oil Co. changes to become LH Foster & Son.

1950

history-1950Korean War begins.

1953

Korean War ends.

1954
history-1954
1956

Gasoline sells for $0.15/gallon.
LH Jr. eventually takes over operations. His younger brother, Bobby, is involved with the family business also. LH Foster & Son continues to grow while Bobby attends the University of Richmond.

1958

Bobby graduates from the University of Richmond and assumes control of the company with his wife, Nancy.

1960

Bobby and Nancy have a son, Watt Jr., and the family business name changes to L.H. Foster & Sons. The business is incorporated on September 12th. LH Sr. passes away, and LH Jr. and Watt Sr. run the company together.

1960

Vietnam War begins; OPEC forms on September 14.

Company name changes from LH Foster & Sons, Inc. to Foster Fuels, Inc. Bobby buys a transport truck to pick up fuels in Richmond. First delivery is made to James Bailey’s Cleaners on Main Street in Brookneal (now closed). Other local companies are bought to become part of Foster Fuels.

1961

history-1961Propane installations in the United States total 13 million tanks.

1962

history-1962Kerosene sells for $0.163/gallon.

1965
history-1965
1966

Bobby adds propane to Foster Fuels’ services. Deliveries now include kerosene, fuel oil, gasoline, and motor oil.

1970

Fuel oil sells for $0.169/gallon.

1973

Propane price controls are instituted in the wake of the Arab oil embargo.

1975

history-1975Vietnam War concludes.

1977

The 799-mile-long trans-Alaskan pipeline is completed and first used.

1981

President Reagan eliminates price controls on propane, gasoline, and crude oil.

1982

Watt R. Foster Jr. graduates from James Madison University and joins the Foster Fuels team.

1984

LH Jr. dies on November 11th (Veterans Day).

1989

history-1986Bobby (Watt Sr.) sells Foster Fuels to Watt Jr., his son. Bobby and Watt Jr. continue to run the company together like the sale never happened. Bobby remains President and participates in all important decisions.

Watt Jr. does everything from driving a truck to service and work sales.

1990

Propane is listed as an approved, alternative clean fuel in the 1990 Clean Air Act and—two years later, it is listed again as an alternative fuel in the Energy Policy Act of 1992; Persian Gulf War begins.

Texaco fuels are dropped from inventory.

1991

Persian Gulf War ends.

1996

Biodiesel goes into production in the U.S. for the first time.

Foster Fuels celebrates 75 years of business.

2001

Attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon; the U.S. declares war on terrorism.

2002

67 million barrels of petroleum are produced worldwide each day.

2003

Watt Jr. and Watt Sr. establish a disaster relief division in response to Hurricane Isabel’s arrival in Virginia.

2004

Hurricane Ivan slams Florida—Foster Fuels responds successfully for private companies.

2005

Katrina, the most disastrous storm to strike the U.S. in decades, sweeps through the Gulf Coast.

2005

Foster Fuels expands its disaster relief business to service the federal government.

2006

history-2009Watt Jr. and Watt Sr. revitalize the propane gas division.

2007

Watt Jr. and Watt Sr. expand the company with a new headquarters and facility to hold the growth. Foster Fuels
purchases a local propane company to expand its propane division. Foster Fuels also expands propane into Danville, VA via another acquisition.

2008

Foster Fuels responds to hurricanes Ike and Gustav with 80 trucks in the Gulf region.

2009

history-20009Foster Fuels responds to ice storms in Kentucky in February. Foster continues to expand its propane operations and its trucking division.

2010

The biggest oil spill in U.S. history; 5 million barrels leak into the Gulf of Mexico.

2010

Foster Fuels responds to the Haiti Earthquake in January. Watt Jr. is deployed there with his men to oversee operations. Watt Jr. is away for two months while Watt Sr. continues to oversee operations in spite of his failing health.

2011

Foster Fuels celebrates 90 years of business (1921–2011).

2012

The Mission Critical division successfully performs the largest federal disaster relief mission in history in response to Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast.

2013

Propane services expand from Lynchburg to Charlottesville with the opening of a full-service branch in Lovingston, VA. This expansion makes Foster Fuels one of the largest privately owned propane companies in Virginia.

2014

Bobby_FosterWatt Robert “Bobby” Foster, Sr. passes away.

Accreditations: