Drake Well, Birth Of The Oil And Gas Industry

Many people are somehow misinformed that the first oil and gas well was drilled in Texas. It was not instead, it was drilled in a small northwestern Pennsylvania town called Titusville.

Nestled in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania is Titusville, which is the birthplace of the oil industry. Most people, when asked where the first oil well in the world was drilled, are quick to answer Texas and they are surprised to find that instead, it was in a small Pennsylvania town. Crawford County in Northwestern Pennsylvania is the site where Colonel Edwin L. Drake drilled the first oil well in the world and today there is a museum and park located there to honor him and also to preserve the area's rich history.

People come from all over the world to visit this historical site, which is about 45 miles south of Erie and roughly 100 miles north of Pittsburgh. Though it is a small town (population around 6,800), it is friendly community with much for tourists to see and do while visiting the area. Drake Well is located just off from Rt. 8 South near Titusville and if in the area, riding on the OC&T (Oil Creek and Titusville) tourist railroad is a must as it tours the valley that changed the world.

At Drake Well Museum there is a replica of Drake's well house that is in operation and guided tours are also offered, if you would rather not explore on your own. Bike trails, hiking, camping and picnic grounds are all available for the visitors' pleasure in this two hundred acre park.



On August 27, 1859, Colonel Edwin Drake was the first person to successfully drill oil and he did so by using an old steam engine to power the drill. It was most fortunate for Drake to have been in a hotel in New Haven, Connecticut where also staying were the founders of the new Seneca Oil Company. Edwin Drake was given the job to handle title work and report on the seep. Talk about pure luck, Drake was given the job because he had a free railway pass because of his previous job of being a railroad conductor!

Colonel Drake would strike oil at 69 1/2 feet, though he had been prepared to drill 1,000 feet and had very precise specifications as to how things should be done. On that day in August of 1859, Drake would prove his theory to be true - that drilling would be the best way to extract oil from the earth. Though he was thoroughly convinced, many others had doubts and until actually striking oil; Drake was the laughing stock of the community. It wouldn't be long however, that he would be the one laughing "¦ his predictions would ring true

It is sad that, after striking oil and making the entire town a very rich one - that Drake himself did not have better business strategies. Eventually he ended up penniless and was given a pension by the State of Pennsylvania, moving from Titusville to Bethlehem, PA where he lived out his last days. It was some time later that the oil industry honored Drake by moving his body back to Titusville, where he was given a tomb with a emblematic bronze sculpture. Colonel Edwin Laurentine Drake did the entire world a great service and it is fitting that his final resting place is now in the "valley that changed the world".

© High Speed Ventures 2011