The following morning, Drake discovered that crude oil, which future generations would call black gold, had seeped through the ground around his drill and had flooded the ground around his rudimentary wooden derrick. The action takes place at Titusville where the black gold rushalso attracts a crooked lawyer who takes over the town and the oilfields.
Among the first of the American oil concerns were the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company and the Seneca Oil Company. A political cartoon that appeared in Vanity Fair in 1861 depicting whales rejoicing. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. is a freelance writer living in Alexandria, Virginia.
Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... First oil well in the United States, built in 1859 by Edwin L. Drake, Titusville, Pennsylvania. The next day “Uncle Billy” inspected the well and saw an oily fluid at the top of the pipe. Drake at last struck black gold, on August 28, 1859, nearly seventy feet down.
Edwin Drake was a man obsessed with the quest for oil.
Smith tried pumping it out with little success. Edwin Drake, in full Edwin Laurentine Drake, (born March 29, 1819, Greenville, New York, U.S.—died November 8, 1880, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), driller of the first productive oil well in the United States. Even his title—colonel—came not from military advancement but because one of his sponsors thought it lent prestige to his quest for oil. Drake had dug the first oil well in America, and he would later dig two more oil wells. One hundred miles north in Titusville, Pennsylvania, for reasons not entirely clear, Colonel Edwin Drake decided to solve this problem. With the spread of Drake’s drilling techniques, Titusville and other northwestern Pennsylvania communities became boomtowns. His innovative method of drilling for oil using an iron pipe not only caused a "black gold rush" but also placed him in the books of oil industry history. Drake, an ordinary railroad conductor achieved the impossible by extracting oil from the ground. But the industry was in its infancy, there was no advanced equipment for its physical demands. Armed with a drawing provided by Booth, Kier built a one-barrel, cast-iron still on Seventh Avenue in Pittsburgh and sold kerosene, which he called “carbon oil,” for $1.50 per gallon. Announcing our NEW encyclopedia for Kids! Edwin Drake, in full Edwin Laurentine Drake, (born March 29, 1819, Greenville, New York, U.S.—died November 8, 1880, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), driller of the first productive oil well in the United States. Perhaps it’s this string of bad luck that drove him to dig the first oil well. Edwin Drake and Billy Smith appear in À l'ombre des derricks ("In the Shadow of the Oil Rigs"), an episode of the Franco-Belgian comics Western series Lucky Luke, published in 1960, written by René Goscinny (co-creator of Asterix) and drawn by Morris. Seeing the futility of gathering oil from surface seeps or trying to mine it from excavated shafts, Drake studied the techniques of drilling salt wells and decided to bore for the oil.
Images: © GRANGER 25 Chapel St. Suite 605 Brooklyn and Keystone/Science Photo Library That bathtub contained black gold. They were no longer the sole source of oil after it was discovered in Pennsylvania. A look into Drake’s past would paint the picture of a man hounded by ill-fortune and tragedy. Edwin Drake drilled America’s first well in Pennsylvania in 1859, ushering in commercial production of the black crude. The following morning, Drake discovered that crude oil, which future generations would call black gold, had seeped through the ground around his drill and had flooded the ground around his rudimentary wooden derrick. But the difficulty of getting it out of the ground limited its utility. In 1870, after years of poverty, he returned to Pennsylvania, where he was eventually awarded a pension by the state legislature. - Biography of Edwin Drake. One man’s persistence over 150 years ago directly led to the creation of one of the world’s most powerful and profitable industries, a testament to the potential of the human spirit. By Judah Ginsberg | October 8, 2009 Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. While world supplies of oil expanded dramatically, the main demand was at first…, …project undertaken by American entrepreneur Edwin L. Drake in northwestern Pennsylvania. New Industry, New Wealth By early fall, Pennsylvania's Oil Rush was on. We have Edwin Drake to thank for it. His world-famous well was drilled in Titusville, PA, a small town in Crawford County. Pennsylvania’s Black Gold The 150th anniversary of Colonel Edwin Drake’s accidental discovery of oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Black gold is an informal term for oil or petroleum — black because of its appearance when it comes out of the ground, and gold because it made everyone involved in the oil industry rich. Drake and Smith put an end to his reign of terror. Seeking other uses for his oil, Kier sent a sample to James Curtis Booth of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and later president of the American Chemical Society, who suggested distilling petroleum as an illuminant. Finally, Drake and Smith obtained cast-iron pipe, which they drove about 32 feet into the bedrock and past the water using a white-oak battering ram. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Edwin-Laurentine-Drake, Public Broadcasting Service - Who Made America? In 1857, while living in New Haven, Connecticut, Drake met stockholders of the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, which claimed a lease on land near Titusville, Pennsylvania, where oil had been gathered from ground-level seepages for medicinal uses. In 1850 he became a conductor on the New York and New Haven Railroad, but a few years later he had to retire for health reasons. Both businesses struggled for control and power over the new field of commerce. Within a short time, inexpensive oil from underground reservoirs was being processed at already existing…, …soft coal, and in 1859 Edwin L. Drake drilled the world’s first successful oil well at Titusville. In the mid 19th century, before crude oil and its derivatives were commercially available, cities and homes depended on whale oil for light. The oil industry in the United States began in 1859 when retired railroad conductor Edwin L. Drake (1819 – 1880) drilled a well near Titusville, Pennsylvania . Letters of introduction to businessmen in the area referred to Drake as “Colonel,” and for the rest of his life he was known as Colonel Drake. Since it was sundown, he had his crew leave for the day. News soon spread along Oil Creek and into Titusville, but Drake did not get word of the discovery until Monday morning when he arrived at the well and saw Smith surrounded by barrels, tubs, and jars of oil. On August 27, 1859, the drill bit he was using broke through a bit of rock 75 feet in the earth. This level of production is possible thanks to the efforts of the American oil industry. Drake had dug the first oil well in America, and he would later dig two more oil wells. Of the record-breaking 94.7 million barrels of oil produced per day the world over, 15.3 million barrels were from America. Edwin Drake was the first person to strike oil in America. Edwin Drake's 1859 oil well was the first of its kind. To get rid of the oil, in 1852 Kier started marketing it as a medicinal product under the name “Kier’s Petroleum, or Rock Oil.” Kier claimed his “medicine”—sold in 8-ounce jars for 50 cents—cured burns, ulcers, cholera, asthma, indigestion, rheumatism, and blindness.
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