Bee's Hive

Friday, August 28, 2009

Where Did Oil Drilling Start?

Having gone to school in Philadelphia, I learned a lot about Billy Penn, Betsy Ross, Christ Church, but if you asked me about Oil Drilling I would have said- Texas.

Because of moving I have nothing to share with you so I'll share today's newspaper, The News Harold. The story is written by Judith O. Etzel, staff writer

Western Pennsylvania's greatest claim to fame originates from a grimy, exhausting and less than auspicious get-rich scheme that took place in the middle of a dusty field near Oil Creek on a hot summer day exactly 150 years ago.

Col. Edwin Drake's labors would turn how America works on its ear and launch an industry that continues to dominate the world economy.

While not a gusher when it came in on August 27, 1859, Drake's successful oil well, conisisting of an iron pipe hand driven down 69.5 feet in the Venango County soil, pumped enough crude oil into a scattering of buckets to mark the birth of the world's commercial petroleum industry.

This was not the only event of 1859. James Buchannan was the president of the US and as the nation's only president from Pennsylvania, ironically presided at a time when his own state would boast the birthplace of the oil industry.

He began his third year in office signing documents admitting Oregon as the 33rd US state. In the same year, ground was broken for the Suez Canal.

Napoleon III of France defeated Franz Josef I of Austria in the Battle of Solferino, Italy, in mid 1859. Queen Victoria decreed that Australia's Queenland be allowed to organize as a separate colony. The Comstock Lode was discovered in western Nevada, and it marked the first major US silver strike.

On the domestic front, The song Dixie was composed and debuted at a minstrel show in NY city.The first hotel passenger eleavator in the US was installed in a Hotel in NY City.

In Mass., inventors rigged a battery & wire contraption in a Salem house to pull off the first electric powered home demonstration. George Pulllman introduced the first rail sleeping car and tightrope walker Charles Biondin crossed over the Niagara Falls as 25,000 spectators watched. The year also spawned the pony express. The first overland delivery from St. Louis to San Francisco took 24 days.

As Drake and his cohorts were revving up the Oil Valley en route to inventing an industry, quite another set of circumstances in 1859 was poised to turn the nation inside out. It would culminate in the Civil War (1861-65), a conflict that would have an impact on the infant oil industry.

Less than two months after Drake's well came on line, abolitionist John Brown and 21 others seized the US armory at Harper's Ferry, Va. in a move designed to instigate a slave rebellion. Brown was hanged for treason.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860, only a year after Drade's drilling exploits. The Civil War would begin a year later.

The War resulted in the oil industry, a learn-as-you-go bare-knuckled occupation in those early years, being waylaid for a few years as manpower and supplies were tight.

Once the War ended, hundreds of veterans flooded the oil valley looking for jobs.

Photo of Drake and his Oil Well

So there ya have it. Pennsylvania was the first oil strike. I should have guessed that with the next town over being named...Oil City!


Shogun said...

It's funny - a couple of years ago my daughter's friend's family went on a vacation to PA to see the oil drilling historical sites. I also heard something on NPR about this recently. How is the move going?

Rita said...

I must have missed it. The story of why you moved and what state etc. I did get the blog post about your chair and how neat it is. I'd love to know why you moved and what your place is like. I'm sorry, I'm being pushy I bet you'd like to unpack first. =) Wishing you the very best.