More than 50 Years of History 1931 - 1981

The property at Beacon (bought in February 1931) was once the site of a woolen mill, where blue serge cloth was made for uniforms during the Civil War.

The mill buildings (numbered 1-6) down by Fishkill creek were remodeled, and several Truscan (steel) buildings were erected around the quadrangle. Building 1 became the main laboratory building, housing many of the departments.

  • August 15, 1931 – The first distillation was run under the direction of the Analytical and Testing Department and “Beacon Research Laboratory” was formally declared open for business.

In addition to a General Office and a Library, the original departments in 1931 included Treating, Dewaxing and Filtration; Organic (which later split into Fuels and Lubricants); Analytical and Testing; Mechanical; Engineering and Drafting; Distillation; Gas; Asphalt; and Physical Research. The Standardization Department opened in 1933.

The original campus included several houses which were eventually razed. The head of the laboratory, then called the superintendent, lived in House No. 1, once the mill owner’s home. A.V. Ritchie was the first superintendent.

The Lab opened with 125 employees, only two of whom were women-the telephone operator and the librarian. By May 1935 the staff had grown to 205. The third woman to be hired was a full-time nurse, in 1937.

  • 1932 – BRL was officially designated a “U.S. Government Cooperative Weather Station”-a designation that was in effect until 2003 when operations ceased.
  • 1935 – A new name-“Beacon Research laboratory” became “Beacon Laboratories” with the closing of the laboratories at the Bayonne, N.J. sales terminal.
  • 1939-1940 – A program of expansion was begun with the construction of a new boiler house and a new group of engineering buildings.
  • 1940 – A vast increase in the number of telephones led to the installation of a new telephone switchboard with space for 200 extensions-this doubled the capacity of the old board.
Aerial view texaco beacon campus


The start of World War II temporarily halted the expansion of the Laboratories. During the war, 216 members of the Labs went on Military Leave of Absence, and female employees were hired in great numbers for the first time. On July 30, 1945, there were 210 women-32.4% of the 648 employees.

The Laboratories received many awards for its contribution to the war effort. Considerable work was done on the development of new and improved products for use during the war, and on products for specialized uses. These included high performance aviation gasolines (and new methods of testing their performance), specialized lubricating oils, greases for operation at temperatures as low as 100 degrees below zero, and a non-floating grease for use on submarine rudders so that it would not cause a tell-tale oil slick.

Many projects were undertaken under direct contract for the Armed Forces. One of these was the development of a stand-by heater to permit instant starting of motor transport vehicles at 40 degrees below zero.


After the war, peacetime activities and expansion were resumed. The mid and late 1940s saw the construction of several new buildings including a jet combustion laboratory for the investigation of aviation jet fuels.

  • 1946 – A new and improved Havoline Motor Oil for passenger cars was introduced.
  • August 31 – September 4, 1948 – Beacon Laboratories exhibited work done behind the “cloistered walls” at the annual Dutchess County Fair.
  • January 5, 1949 (Beacon, N. Y.) – news release – Science is beginning to get more from petroleum than the commonly known regular products, such as gasoline, kerosene, and fuel oil. The new products are known as “petro-chemicals. “
  • 1949 – Texaco Texamatic Fluid for automatic transmissions was introduced.
  • March 1950 – After years of development and testing, Custom-Made Havoline Motor Oil was introduced with much fanfare. It was featured in a color film “It’s Mighty Cheap Insurance, ” about the desirability of changing oil every 1,000 miles.
  • May 1950 – Beacon Laboratories developed its own water supply via Well No, 2, making the Laboratories independent of outside sources.
  • October 18-19, 1950 – First “Open House” – The Laboratories at Beacon were opened to the general public in connection with the observance of “Oil Progress Week. “
  • November 1950 – The laboratories took on the appearance of a Hollywood movie lot as a professional film crew moved in with all its gear to shoot “Balanced Power, ” a film showing Texaco Dealers the merits of Texaco gasolines.
  • 1951 – In order to make way for a new administration building, the Reformed Dutch Church of Glenham was dismantled and reconstructed at a new location. (The reconstructed building became the home of the Mawenawasigh Tribe 479, Improved Order of Redmen and is currently the home of Iglesia de Dios.)
  • August 15, 1951 – Ground was broken for the new Administration Building (Building 50) on the 20th anniversary of Beacon Laboratories.
  • May 1952 – A new department known as ‘Field Services” was created, with the responsibility for testing petroleum samples and failed mechanical components received from the field via the Domestic and Foreign Sales Departments.
  • July 1952 – The Physical Research Department obtained an electron microscope-the latest innovation in microscopy.
  • September 1953 – BRL ‘s new Advanced Custom Made Havoline was announced.
  • November 1953 – BRL developed a “global grease” which performed equally well in either desert or arctic operations for use in military vehicles.
  • March 1954 – An improved Top Octane Sky Chief gasoline was announced.


Up to this point in Texaco’s history, research activities came under the aegis of the Refining Department. On August 1, 1954, the Company’s Board of Directors established an independent Research and Technical Department headed by its own Vice President, F.H. Holmes. Giving research and technical service activities full corporate departmental status constituted a formal recognition of the importance of research to the Company as a whole.

  • December 1954 – The 10,000th formal research and patent suggestion originating at Beacon Laboratories was recorded.
  • April 1955 – An addition to the Havoline line-a multigrade all-weather motor oil was announced.

In May 1956, the headquarters of the Research and Technical Department was moved to Beacon, and in recognition of this fact, the name of the overall facility was changed from Beacon Laboratories to Texaco Research Center. The Laboratory portion of the Center then became Beacon Research Laboratories (BRL).

  • December 1956 – A new premium gasoline was introduced-Texaco Sky Chief Supreme.
  • July 1958 – A new Radiation Laboratory containing a cobalt-60 source, an electron linear accelerator, and a Van de Graaff generator began operation.
  • September 1959 – Texaco introduced a new jet fuel for commercial aviation, BRL had done much of the necessary testing work during its development.

The new status of research inspired another growth spurt at BRL during the 1950s. The Administration Building which had been completed in 1953, received a new wing in 1956. The Analytical and Testing Department which had grown to 140 employees (more than the entire Laboratory in 1931), moved into a building of its own (Building 65) in 1957. A Fuels Research Pilot Plant Building (Building 68) was occupied in 1959. Several smaller buildings for storage and specialized activities were also completed.


In January 1961, there were over 1,000 employees at the Texaco Research Center.

  • January 20, 1961 – A blizzard that dumped 26 inches of snow on the Beacon area forced the Center to shut down for the first time in 30 years of operation.

The Laboratories continued to expand. In 1961, blending operations were consolidated in a new Fuel and Lubricant Blending building (Building 70). A Heating Oil Laboratory was added to Building 68 to be used for the training of Company heating oil dealers and service personnel as well as for evaluation of fuels and equipment. The first “Installation and Service Training Course” was given in 1963.

  • 1962 – Texaco introduced its Uni-Temp Grease 500-a BRL developed product that would help get the United States B-52 bombers off the ground.
  • April 1962 – New Sky Chief premium gasoline was introduced as the nearest thing yet to a “perfect gasoline.”
  • January 1, 1963 – A Fundamental Research Division was created incorporating personnel from various groups working on basic studies. The primary function of the division was to carry out fundamental research of long range and continuing importance to more than one applied research section.

One of the original mill buildings-the old Glenham Store-was torn down in 1963. The building (designated Building No. 20), which had been used for storage, was known to BRL employees as “The Jail” because the ground floor windows were equipped with iron bars. The building was built as a general store in 1865 by the Glenham Company, the original owners of the mill. Mill employees were permitted to make purchases on credit, and the amount was deducted from their pay each month. Other people came from miles around to trade there, and the building soon became the center of community life. Its top floor was a large social hall, where dances and other social gatherings were held.

  • 1964 – The Catalyst Building (Building 74) was built for the development of catalysts to be used in a variety of manufacturing processes.
  • June 1964 – The first nuclear-powered merchant ship, the NS Savannah, docked in New York lubricated by Texaco. The suitability of the lubricants for this purpose had been determined in BRL ‘s Radiation Lab.
  • September 1964 – The Texaco Jet Flame Booster was ready for marketing. This was a BRL developed device designed to improve the operating efficiency of domestic gun-type oil burners. The new boosters would be incorporated into Texaco Fuel Chief Burners
  • September 1967 – A new automatic transmission fluid was approved by one of the largest domestic passenger car manufacturers for factory-fill of the automatic transmissions in its 1968 models. Called Texamatic Fluid 6673, it was especially developed to meet “tomorrow’s” passenger car automatic transmission fluid requirements.


The country underwent a dramatic shift in consciousness in the 1970s. There was mounting concern about the effects of industrial activity on human health and the environment, and a dawning realization that our primary energy sources (oil and natural gas) were finite. Many of the activities at BRL over this decade addressed these concerns.

  • January 1970 – A new Havoline Motor Oil 10W-40 (suitable for use over a broader temperature range) was introduced-an addition to the Havoline line of premium quality crankcase lubricants for automotive engines.
  • October 1970 – Texaco Snowmobile Oil was introduced-a new lubricant that provided outstanding performance in two-cycle air-cooled engines.
  • November 1970 – A low lead gasoline was introduced containing Texaco new Petrox additives package.
  • March 1971 – Two new series of motor oils were introduced to replace the existing multigrade and single grade Havoline Motor Oils: Havoline Super Premium Motor Oils in the mu/tigrades and Havoline Motor Oils in the single grades. These oils were specifically designed to resist the hightemperature oxidative thickening associated with towing heavy loads at high speeds.
  • May 1971 – An air monitoring station was installed in the penthouse of Building 50 in order to study long-range trends in Mid Hudson air quality.

On June 1, 1971, the Company’s Board of Directors established the Environmental Protection Department, giving environmental affairs individual departmental status. The new Department (with headquarters in Beacon) was responsible for coordinating environmental protection activities throughout the entire world-wide corporate structure of Texaco.

  • January 1973 – Installation of a new wastewater treatment plant, called a WEMCO depurator, was begun. The facility would provide final treatment of laboratory wastewater following primary treatment in the API oil separator.
  • April 1973 – BRL ‘s artificial highway began operation; “taking the road out of road testing. ” The highway consisted of six sophisticated chassis dynamometers (called road simulators) located outside a control room. This equipment made it possible to evaluate fuels and lubricants under accurate road test conditions without ever leaving the Center.
  • December 1973 – An Energy Conservation Committee was formed at BRL. Numerous measures were taken to conserve energy; such as removal of unnecessary light bulbs, reduction of thermostat temperatures, and switching to a half hour lunch (thereby shortening the work day).
  • April 1974 – A new sewage treatment plant was completed-part of a program to upgrade the quality of all discharges at the Center.
  • 1975 – The first female student (a Texaco heating oil dealer) received oil burner training at BRL.
  • 1976 – BRL began development of its Underground Tank Leak Detector-an instrument that would detect underground leaks in service station storage tanks. (The Ethyl Corporation was licensed to manufacture and sell the detector in 1979 under the name Ethyl Tank Sentiy.)
  • September 1977 – As part of BRL’s recycling program, a can crusher was installed to aid in the recycling of small (up to five gallon) steel cans.
  • October 6, 1977 – A gala “Open House” was held at the Center in honor of Texaco’s 75th Anniversary.
  • May 28, 1978 – Texaco sponsored Janet Guthrie in the Indianapolis 500-mile classic road race. Miss Guthrie, driving the “Texaco Star, ” was the first woman to complete the race. With only about a week’s notice, BRL developed Havoline Racing Oil 764 to meet the special requirements of the car’s high output engine, and delivered it to the mechanic’s garage in Indianapolis.
  • August 1978 – Texaco consolidated its research, environmental protection, and safety and industrial hygiene operations into one expanded Research, Environment, and Safety Department (RES) with headquarters at Beacon.
  • July 1979 – BRL ‘s new Havoline Supreme 10W-40 Motor Oil containing an exclusive fiction reducing ingredient was introduced.
  • October 1980 – Texaco began marketing a new lead-free higher octane gasoline called Super Leadfree Sky Chief
  • April 1981 – Texaco Super Lead-free Gasohol was introduced-a blend of 90% unleaded gasolines and 10% ethyl alcohol with an octane rating of 91.
  • May 22, 1981 – A Biomass Fermentation Laboratory was opened at BRL to study the use of fermentation processes to produce fuels and chemicals.


From 1982 through 2003, the facility developed numerous advancements to meet increasing environmental requirements, including:

  • System 3 and Clean System 3 gasoline – for lower tailpipe emissions
  • Membrane research – for cleaner water for offshore drilling operations
  • Bioremediation research – to clean up historical petroleum spills at Texaco operations
  • Low-sulfur diesel research – to lower air emissions
  • Lycoming/Avjet – to increase efficiency of airplane engines
  • Long-lasting antifreeze product research – to decrease waste antifreeze
  • Pilot scale refinery research – to make refineries more efficient and reduce wastes
  • Corporate Environmental Offices – management of Texaco’s environmental responsibilities around the world.
Beacon Campus History - More than 50 Years of History