Edwin Laurentine Drake
March 29, 1819
Greenville, New York, United States
|Died||November 9, 1880 61) (aged|
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States
|Other names||Colonel Drake|
|Known for||Petroleum exploration|
|Parent(s)||Lyman Drake and Laura Lee|
Edwin Laurentine Drake (March 29, 1819 – November 9, 1880), also known as Colonel Drake, was an American businessman and the first American to successfully drill for oil.
Edwin Drake was born in Greenville, Greene County, New York on March 29, 1819, the son of Lyman and Laura Drake. He grew up on family farms around New York State and Castleton, Rutland County, Vermont before leaving home at the age of 19. He spent the early parts of his life working the railways around New Haven, Connecticut as a clerk, express agent and a conductor. During this time, in 1845, he married Philena Adams who died while giving birth to their second child in 1854. Drake remarried three years later to Laura Dowd, sixteen years his junior, in 1857. During this summer, illness prevented Drake from carrying on with his job. He retained the privileges of a train conductor, including free travel on the railroads. By 1858, the Drake family found themselves living in Titusville, Pennsylvania.
While petroleum oil was known prior to this, there was no appreciable market for it. Samuel Martin Kier is credited with founding the first American oil refinery in Pittsburgh. He was the first person in the United States to refine crude oil into lamp oil (kerosene). Along with a new lamp to burn Kier's product a new market to replace whale oil as a lamp oil began to develop.
Seneca Oil, originally called the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, was founded by George Bissell and Jonathan Eveleth. They created the company after hearing of reports that petroleum collected from an oil spring in Titusville, Pennsylvania was suitable for use as lamp fuel. Until this time, the primary lamp fuel had been whale oil. Bissell found that the "rock oil" would be a practical alternative if a method could be devised to extract the oil from the ground. Interest in the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company was initially low until a report commissioned by Bissell and Eveleth showed that there was significant economic value in petroleum. Due to a disagreement between the shareholders and the pair, the company was split and Seneca Oil was formed in 1858. Before being offered a job by Bissell and Eveleth, Drake bought stock in Seneca Oil. But his job opportunity with the company arose because both parties were staying in the same hotel in Titusville. He was hired on a salary of $1,000 a year to investigate the oil seeps on land owned by Seneca Oil.
Edwin Drake was hired by the Seneca Oil Company to investigate suspected oil deposits in Titusville, Pennsylvania.James Townsend, President of the Seneca Oil Company, sent Drake to the site in the spring of 1858. The oil company chose the retired railway man partly because he had free use of the rail. Drake had no military experience, but Townsend gave him the title of "Colonel" in order to impress the local townspeople.
Drake decided to drill in the manner of salt well drillers. He purchased a steam engine in Erie, Pennsylvania, to power the drill. The well was dug on an island on the Oil Creek. It took some time for the drillers to get through the layers of gravel. At 16 feet (5 m) the sides of the hole began to collapse. Those helping him began to despair, but not Drake. It was at this point that he devised the idea of a drive pipe. This cast iron pipe consisted of 10-foot-long (3.0 m) joints. The pipe was driven down into the ground. At 32 feet (10 m) they struck bedrock. The drilling tools were now lowered through the pipe and steam was used to drill through the bedrock. The drilling, however, was slow. Progress was made at the rate of just three feet per day. After initial difficulty locating the necessary parts to build the well, which resulted in his well being nicknamed "Drake's Folly", Drake proved successful.
Meanwhile, crowds of people began to gather to jeer at the apparently unproductive operation. By 1859 Drake was also running out of money. Drake's colleagues back in Connecticut gave up on finding any oil by April 1859 and after spending $2,500, Drake took out a $500 loan to keep the operation going. On August 27, 1859 Drake had persevered and his drill bit had reached a total depth of 69.5 feet (21 m). At that point the bit hit a crevice. The men packed up for the day. The next morning Drake’s driller, Billy Smith, looked into the hole in preparation for another day’s work. He was surprised and delighted to see crude oil rising up. Drake was summoned and the oil was brought to the surface with a hand pitcher pump. The oil was collected in a bath tub.
Drake is famous for pioneering a new method for producing oil from the ground. He drilled using piping to prevent borehole collapse, allowing for the drill to penetrate further and further into the ground. Previous methods for collecting oil had been limited. Ground collection of oil consisted of gathering it from where it occurred naturally, such as from oil seeps or shallow holes dug into the ground. Drake tried the latter method initially when looking for oil in Titusville. However, it failed to produce economically viable amounts of oil. Alternative methods of digging large shafts into the ground also failed, as collapse from water seepage almost always occurred. The significant step that Drake took was to drive a 32-foot iron pipe through the ground into the bedrock below. This allowed Drake to drill inside the pipe, without the hole collapsing from the water seepage. The principle behind this idea is still employed today by all companies drilling for hydrocarbons.
Claims of prior art exist, including Bóbrka, Poland in 1854, Wietze, Germany in 1857, and Oil Springs, Ontario, Canada 25 barrels (4.0 m3) of oil a day. By 1872, the entire area was producing 15.9 thousand barrels (2,530 m3) a day.in 1858. The importance of the Drake Well at Titusville was that it prompted the first great wave of investment and additional drilling that established petroleum as a major industry. Within a day of Drake's striking oil, Drake’s methods were being imitated by others along Oil Creek and in the immediate area. This culminated with the establishment of several oil boom towns along the creek. Drake's well produced
Drake set up a stock company to extract and market the oil. But, while his pioneering work led to the growth of an oil industry that made many people fabulously rich, for Drake riches proved elusive. Drake did not possess good business acumen. He failed to patent his drilling invention, and proceeded to lose all of his savings in oil speculation in 1863. He was to end up as an impoverished old man, and in 1872 Pennsylvania voted an annuity of $1,500 to the "crazy man" whose determination founded the oil industry.
He died on November 9, 1880 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he had lived since 1874. He and his wife are buried at Titusville, next to a memorial built in his honor.
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. The action takes place at Titusville where the black gold rush also attracts a crooked lawyer who takes over the town and the oilfields. Drake and Smith put an end to his reign of terror. Drake and Smith also appear in the TV animated version of the story made in the early 1980s.
Drake is portrayed by Vincent Price in the 1954 industrial film, Born In Freedom: The Story of Colonel Drake sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute
Kerosene, also known as paraffin, is a combustible hydrocarbon liquid which is derived from petroleum. It is widely used as a fuel in aviation as well as households. Its name derives from Greek: κηρός (keros) meaning "wax", and was registered as a trademark by Canadian geologist and inventor Abraham Gesner in 1854 before evolving into a genericized trademark. It is sometimes spelled kerosine in scientific and industrial usage. The term kerosene is common in much of Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, and the United States, while the term paraffin is used in Chile, eastern Africa, South Africa, Norway, and in the United Kingdom. The term lamp oil, or the equivalent in the local languages, is common in the majority of Asia. Liquid paraffin is a more viscous and highly refined product which is used as a laxative. Paraffin wax is a waxy solid extracted from petroleum.
Titusville is a city in the far east corner of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 5,601 at the 2010 census and an estimated 5,158 in 2019. Titusville is known as the birthplace of the American oil industry and for a number of years was the leading oil-producing region in the world. Titusville was notable for its lumber industry, including 17 sawmills, as well as its plastic and toolmaking industries.
George Henry Bissell was an entrepreneur and industrialist who is often considered the father of the American oil industry.
The petroleum industry, also known as the oil industry or the oil patch, includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting, and marketing of petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline (petrol). Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, synthetic fragrances, and plastics. The extreme monetary value of oil and its products has led to it being known as "black gold". The industry is usually divided into three major components: upstream, midstream, and downstream. Upstream deals with Drilling and Production mainly.
Wamsutta Oil Refinery was established around 1861 in McClintocksville in Venango County near Oil City, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It was the first business enterprise of Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840–1909), who became a famous businessman, industrialist and financier.
McClintockville, Pennsylvania was a small community in Cornplanter Township in Venango County located in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States.
Pennsylvania Grade Crude Oil is a type of sweet crude oil, found primarily in the Appalachian basin in the Marcellus Formation in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, and takes its name for the state of Pennsylvania, where it was first extracted in 1859 from the Drake Well. The area's Pennsylvania Grade Crude Oil has superior qualities and is free of asphaltic constituents, contains only trace amounts of sulfur and nitrogen, and has excellent characteristics for refining into lubricants. The success of drilling for oil at this well led to "an international search for petroleum, and in many ways eventually changed the way we live." There is archaeological evidence that Native Americans harvested "the oil for medicinal purposes by digging small pits around active seeps and lining them with wood" at least as far back as 1410 AD. European settlers skimmed the "oil from the seeps and using the petroleum as a source of lamp fuel and machinery lubrication."
Samuel Martin Kier was an American inventor and businessman who is credited with founding the American petroleum refining industry. He was the first person in the United States to refine crude oil into lamp oil. Kier has been dubbed the Grandfather of the American Oil Industry by historians.
Benjamin Silliman Jr. was a professor of chemistry at Yale University and instrumental in developing the oil industry.
The Drake Well Museum and Park is a museum that interprets the birth of the American oil industry in 1859 by "Colonel" Edwin Drake along the banks of Oil Creek in Cherrytree Township, Venango County, Pennsylvania in the United States. The museum collects and preserves related artifacts. The reconstructed Drake Well demonstrates the first practical use of salt drilling techniques for the extraction of petroleum through an oil well. A historic site, the museum is located in Cherrytree Township, 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Titusville on Drake Well Road, situated between Pennsylvania Routes 8 and 27. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
Pithole, or Pithole City, is a ghost town in Cornplanter Township, Venango County in Pennsylvania, about 6 miles (9.7 km) from Oil Creek State Park and the Drake Well Museum, the site of the first commercial oil well in the United States. Pithole's sudden growth and equally rapid decline, as well as its status as a "proving ground" of sorts for the burgeoning petroleum industry, made it one of the most famous of oil boomtowns.
Oil Creek State Park is a Pennsylvania state park on 6,250 acres (2,529 ha) in Cherrytree, Cornplanter and Oil Creek Townships, Venango County, Pennsylvania in the United States. The park is adjacent to Drake Well Museum, the site of the first successful commercial oil well in the United States, that was drilled under the direction of Colonel Edwin Drake. Oil Creek State Park follows Oil Creek, between Titusville and Oil City, and is on Pennsylvania Route 8. While the creek is the park's main recreational attraction, it also contains the sites of the first oil boomtown and much of Pennsylvania's original oil industry. The park contains a museum, tableaux, and trails to help visitors understand the history of the oil industry there, and an excursion train.
A wildcatter is an individual who drills wildcat wells, which are exploration oil wells drilled in areas not known to be oil fields. Notable wildcatters include Glenn McCarthy, Thomas Baker Slick Sr., Mike Benedum, Joe Trees, Clem S. Clarke, and Columbus Marion Joiner; the last is responsible for finding the East Texas Oil Field in 1930.
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The petroleum industry is not of recent origin, but petroleum's current status as a key component of politics, society, and technology has its roots in the early 20th century. The invention of the internal combustion engine was the major influence in the rise in the importance of petroleum.
À l'ombre des derricks is a Lucky Luke comic written by Goscinny and illustrated by Morris. It is the eighteenth title in the series and it was originally published by Dupuis in 1962, in French. English editions of this French series were published by Cinebook Ltd in 2007 as In the Shadow of the Derricks. The story is based on the historical oil rush in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859.
Jonathan Greenleaf Eveleth founded the first oil company in America with George Bissell in 1854. Partners in the Wall Street law firm of Eveleth & Bissell, the two formed the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company with 5 other investors from New York, New Haven, and Titusville, Pennsylvania, to "raise, procure, manufacture, and sell Rock Oil."
The oil rush in America started in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in the Oil Creek Valley when Edwin L. Drake struck "rock oil" there in 1859. Titusville and other towns on the shores of Oil Creek expanded rapidly as oil wells and refineries shot up across the region. Oil quickly became one of the most valuable commodities in the United States and railroads expanded into Western Pennsylvania to ship petroleum to the rest of the country.
The Drake Well is a 69.5-foot-deep (21.2 m) oil well in Cherrytree Township, Venango County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, the success of which sparked the first oil boom in the United States. The well is the centerpiece of the Drake Well Museum located 3 miles (5 km) south of Titusville.
Luther Atwood was an American chemist. He is known for creating new chemical products from the distillation of coal and petroleum.
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