Warren County Oil Mine
Old Time Tales of Warren County


Warren County Oil Mine

But few people know that Warren County once had an oil mine. It was not the first, or only, shaft sunk in the hope of finding petroleum. In 1864 eastern capitalists organized "The Tarenturn Salt and Oil Company", and made plans to sink a shaft four hundred to five hundred feet deep at Tarentum. English miners were imported for the job. They set to work putting down a shaft eight feet square. Work was continued for two years and $40,000 spent in sinking the shaft. Nine men worked in each shift and the job went down to a depth of four hundred feet. Natural gas flowing into the shaft is said to have compelled a cessation of work. At any rate no oil was ever brought up out of the shaft.

The New York Enterprise and Mining Co., believed an oil mine might be made a success at Tidioute. The shaft was sunk on the east side of the river, opposite the lower end of the town. The location of the filled-up shaft may still be seen in a corner of the schoolyard. The hole was eight feet by twelve. It reached oil-producing sand at one-hundred-and-sixty feet. The miners worked in squads with eight-hour turns. All Tidioute watched the progress of the shaft with interest, also a number of "scouts" were sent there to make observations and report to their employers. The experiment of mining for petroleum had been tried only once before, it had failed, but might be a big success here.

A pump was used to supply fresh air to the men working below. One day, at the noon hour the pump had been idle while the men were out of the shaft. The foreman of the job was seated on a timber across the mouth of the pit when the men came back from dinner. One of the miners, as was the custom, dropped a lighted taper into the shaft to see if there was any gas. It seems there was. Instantly an explosion shook the earth. Workmen were thrown in all directions, stunned and unconscious. A burst of flame roared high above the tree tops. The foreman's body was recovered from the bottom of the pit. Work on the shaft was abandoned, the hole partly filled and covered. Warren County's one attempt to dig an oil mine was over.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 49-50: Old Time Tales of Warren County; Meadville, Pa.: Press of Tribune Pub. Co., 1932


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