Early Mention of Petroleum
Old Time Tales of Warren County


Early Mention of Petroleum

The thing most difficult, for one who reads the history of petroleum to understand, is why no one drilled a successful well for oil long years before Col. Drake put down the famous hole in Titusville, after coming to Warren to have his drilling tools drawn out at Andrew Hertzel's blacksmith shop that August day of 1859.

A full century before the Drake well was drilled, petroleum was well known, by various names. A map of the United States printed in England seventy-two years before Drake surprised the world, displays the word "petroleum" twice, indicating that very distinct surface flows of oil had attracted the notice of the earliest explorers of Southern Ohio and Northwestern Pennsylvania at an early date.

Men drilled for water and drilled for salt, (in the form of salt water) and got both. At Fredonia, New York, a town which has the distinction of first using natural-gas for illuminating purposes, men drilled a well in 1824, capturing the priceless vapor in pipes and purveying it to residents of the town at a flat rate of a dollar and a half per year, burn all you want, which was considered rather high.

At an Erie lighthouse they had been ingenious enough to capture gas from "The Burning Spring". A tower erected over the spring caught the vapor that accumulated during the day and conveyed it through wooden pipes to the beacon where it's nightly blaze warned sailormen of their location. This was as early as 1831.

The vast storehouses of oil and gas betrayed their presence in what, now, seems an unmistakable way yet for long years men lived close to them, even utilized their natural seepings but failed to find the seemingly simple means of tapping these riches. Yet, is it not easily possible that we are today living over or among even more valuable riches, whose presence, even with our science that has only "scratched the surface", we have as yet not guessed.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 27-28: Old Time Tales of Warren County; Meadville, Pa.: Press of Tribune Pub. Co., 1932


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