One of the most spectacular ventures of the period was a joint project on the Colorado River near Moab. The companies involved in this endeavor included the Utah-Southern Oil Company, the Midwest Enterprises Company, and John Howard's Utah Oil Refining Company. Together these three firms drilled a well that hit oil on 8 December 1925. At first the well gushed oil, gas, rock, sand, and gravel hundreds of feet into the air, but very quickly the 84-foot-high wooden derrick caught fire and burned. The Salt Lake Mining Review hailed the discovery as evidence that Utah had just joined the ranks of the "real petroleum-producing states." Such a sentiment was premature, however, because the well's promoters were unable to produce any oil from the venture despite their extending the well eventually to a depth of 5,000 feet.
During the 1920s Earl Douglas, a paleontologist who discovered fossils in the area that became Dinosaur National Monument, was an eloquent spokesman for Utah's oil industry. Being interested in petroleum geology and having conducted many scientific investigations in the Uinta Basin, Douglas became convinced that that region contained a great deal of oil, and throughout the 1920s he called attention to the Uinta Basin by writing journal articles and letters of correspondence, and by visiting financial centers to seek support for drilling projects.
The Great Depression and the first years of World War II, however, damped many oil men's enthusiasm for Utah's petroleum potential. Experiencing the worst slowdown in drilling since the period of World War I, Utah oil promoters drilled only 143 wells from 1930 through 1944. In 1939 only three wells were sunk; the total dropped to two in 1942, and no one ventured into any areas which had not already been explored before the Great Depression.