|Oil Creek State Park|
A historic recreation of a wooden oil derrick at Oil Creek State Park
|Location||Venango, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Area||6,250 acres (25.3 km2)|
|Elevation||1,407 ft (429 m)|
|Governing body||Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources|
|Website||Oil Creek State Park|
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.
Oil Creek State Park was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and its Bureau of Parks as one of "25 Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks".
The history of Oil Creek State Park is tied to the rise and fall of the oil industry in northwestern Pennsylvania. What is now a wild second growth forest with several cold water fishery creeks flowing through it, was once the site of the vast oil industry that changed the landscape and water quality of the Oil Creek Valley.Titusville, to the north of Oil Creek State Park, was a slow-growing community, lying along the banks of Oil Creek until the 1850s. Lumber was the principal industry with at least 17 sawmills in the area.
Oil was known to exist here, but there was no practical way to extract it. Its main use to that time had been as a medicine for both animals and humans. In the late 1850s Seneca Oil Company (formerly the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company) sent its manager, Colonel Edwin L. Drake, to start drilling on a piece of leased land just south of Titusville, near what is now Oil Creek State Park. Drake hired a salt well driller, William A. Smith, in the summer of 1859. After many difficulties, they finally drilled a commercially successful well on August 27. It was an event that changed the world, beginning with the surrounding vicinity.
Teamsters were needed immediately to transport the oil to markets. Barges were filled with oil and sent down Oil Creek to Oil City on the Allegheny River. There the oil was transferred to steamships and sent on to Pittsburgh. Transportation methods improved, and in 1862 the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad was built between Titusville and Corry, where freight was transferred to other, larger, east-west rail lines. In 1865, pipelines were laid directly next to the rail line and the demand for teamsters practically ended. The next year the railroad line was extended south to Petroleum Centre and Oil City. The Union City & Titusville Railroad was built in 1865, which became part of the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad in 1871. That fall President Ulysses S. Grant visited Titusville to view the booming oil industry.
Other oil-related businesses quickly were built in the area. Eight refineries were built between 1862 and 1868. Drilling tools were needed and several iron works were built. Titusville grew from 250 residents to 10,000 almost overnight and in 1866 it incorporated as a city. The first oil millionaire, a resident of Titusville, was Jonathan Watson who owned the land where Drake's well was drilled. The same land is now part of Oil Creek State Park and the Drake Well Museum.
Fire was always a concern around oil and one of the worst fires was on June 11, 1880. What came to be known as "Black Friday" happened when almost 300,000 barrels (48,000 m3) of oil burned after an oil tank was hit by lightning. The fire raged for three days until it finally was brought under control. Although the oil was valued at $2 million, there was no loss of life. Another fire occurred on June 5, 1892, when Oil Creek flooded and a tank of benzine overturned. The benzine ignited and in the ensuing explosions 60 men, women, and children died. Another lightning strike in 1894 resulted in 27,000 barrels (4,300 m3) lost in a fire. Oil production peaked the late 1880s and has declined greatly since, although a few operating wells are still located in the park.
With oil declining in importance, the Oil Creek area settled into an era of slower growth, with lumber eventually returning as its major industry until the hills and valleys were clear cut. Oil Creek State Park was part of a vast effort to reclaim the forests of Pennsylvania. The young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression worked to clear the forest and streams of dried brush, and replant the forests. They also built state roads, bridges and state park facilities. Through the efforts of the CCC and the later years of water and forest management, Oil Creek State Park is once again a wild area with a thriving wildlife population, diverse second growth forest, and crystal clean streams.
The state does not own most of the mineral rights under the park as they were sold separately in the 19th century. In May 2009 it appealed a plan to drill three natural gas wells in the park, each 6,000 feet (1,800 m) deep. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of the drilling company, saying that the DCNR could not impose drilling restrictions without compensation, despite its duty to preserve public parks.
Most of the oil produced in northwestern Pennsylvania was formed in sandstone reservoir rocks at the boundary between the Mississippian and Devonian rock layers. 4,000 feet (1,200 m) to just beneath the surface.Over time, the oil migrated toward the surface, became trapped beneath an impervious layer of caprock, and formed a reservoir. The presence of upwards-curving folds in the caprock called anticlines, or sometimes an inversion of an anticline called a syncline, greatly varied the depth of the reservoirs, from around
The majority of the oil wells in the vicinity of the Oil Creek valley tapped into a sandstone formation known as the Venango Third sand. 450 to 550 feet (140 to 170 m) below ground level. Other oil-producing formations in the area were "the Venango First and Second [sands], the latter often prevailing after the Third sand was lost."The Venango Third contained large volumes of oil under high pressure at only
The park offers picnicking, canoeing, fishing, backpacking, cross-country skiing, and bicycling (the last along a paved 9.4 miles (15.1 km) rail-trail). The Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad, a diesel tourist excursion train, runs through the park from Oil City to Titusville, with stops throughout the park.
Oil Creek is popular with canoeists and anglers. The creek is rated as a beginners creek for those interested in learning how to safely use canoes and kayaks. Oil Creek is a cold water fishery with bass and trout living in its waters. All anglers are expected to follow the rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
There are about 6,250 acres (2,530 ha) open to hunting at Oil Creek State Park. Hunters are expected to follow the rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The most common game species are eastern cottontail rabbits, ruffed grouse, eastern gray squirrels, wild turkey and white-tailed deer. The hunting of groundhogs is prohibited.
The following state parks are within 30 miles (48 km) of Oil Creek State Park:
Venango County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 54,984. Its county seat is Franklin. The county was created in 1800 and later organized in 1805.
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.
Oil City is a city in Venango County, Pennsylvania known for its prominence in the initial exploration and development of the petroleum industry. It is located at a bend in the Allegheny River at the mouth of Oil Creek.
Edwin Laurentine Drake, also known as Colonel Drake, was an American businessman and the first American to successfully drill for oil.
McClintockville, Pennsylvania was a small community in Cornplanter Township in Venango County located in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States.
Kinzua Bridge State Park is a 339-acre (137 ha) Pennsylvania state park near Mount Jewett, in Hamlin and Keating Townships, McKean County, Pennsylvania in the United States. The park lies between U.S. Route 6 and Pennsylvania Route 59, along State Route 3011 just east of the Allegheny National Forest.
Ricketts Glen State Park is a Pennsylvania state park on 13,193 acres (5,280 ha) in Columbia, Luzerne, and Sullivan counties in Pennsylvania in the United States. Ricketts Glen is a National Natural Landmark known for its old-growth forest and 24 named waterfalls along Kitchen Creek, which flows down the Allegheny Front escarpment from the Allegheny Plateau to the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians. The park is near the borough of Benton on Pennsylvania Route 118 and Pennsylvania Route 487, and is in five townships: Sugarloaf in Columbia County, Fairmount and Ross in Luzerne County, and Colley and Davidson in Sullivan County.
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.
Clear Creek State Forest is a Pennsylvania State Forest in Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry District #8. The main offices are located in Clarion in Clarion County, Pennsylvania in the United States. Until August 2007, it was named Kittanning State Forest.
Tioga State Forest is a Pennsylvania State Forest in District #16, in the Allegheny Plateau region within Tioga County, Pennsylvania.
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 is a 46.7-mile (75.2 km) tributary of the Allegheny River in Venango and Crawford counties in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It has a drainage area of 319 square miles (830 km2) and joins the Allegheny at Oil City. Attractions along the river include the Drake Well Museum and Oil Creek State Park. The stream was named after the oil that was found along its banks before the historic oil strike by Edwin Drake in Titusville, which Oil Creek flows through. Oil Creek is popular with canoeists and fishers. The creek is rated as a beginners creek for those interested in learning how to safely use canoes and kayaks. Oil Creek is a cold water fishery with bass and trout living in its waters.
Petroleum Center is a populated place and ghost town in Cornplanter Township, Venango County, Pennsylvania, United States. In the 19th century the name was also spelled "Petroleum Centre". The town today is almost deserted.
The Susquehannock Trail System is an 85-mile (137 km) loop hiking trail in the Susquehannock State Forest in Potter and Clinton counties in north-central Pennsylvania in the United States. The trail goes through three state parks and passes within 2 miles (3 km) of three more state parks. Other highlights include a fire tower, vistas, and the Hammersley Wild Area, the largest area in Pennsylvania without a road. The STS was founded by William Fish Jr. in 1966 and is maintained by the Susquehannock Trail Club in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). In the south it shares 8.7 miles (14.0 km) of its course in Clinton County with the 90-mile (140 km) Donut Hole Trail. The STS also connects to the east with the Black Forest Trail in Lycoming County via two short link trails.
Hammersley Wild Area is a 30,253-acre (12,243 ha) wild area in the Susquehannock State Forest in Potter and Clinton counties in north-central Pennsylvania in the United States. It is the largest area without a road in Pennsylvania and the state's second largest wild area. The wild area is named for Hammersley Fork, a tributary of Kettle Creek, which flows through the area. The wild area includes 10.78 miles (17.35 km) of the Susquehannock Trail System, an 85-mile (137 km) loop hiking trail almost entirely on state forest land.
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 Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad is a tourist railroad that runs from Titusville to Rynd Farm north of Oil City in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The Oil Creek and Titusville Lines is the designated operator of the railroad, as well as the freight carrier on the line.
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.
The Pithole Valley Railway was an ephemeral short line railroad in Venango County, Pennsylvania, constructed as a result of the Pennsylvania oil rush. The railroad was originally constructed in 1865 between Oil City, Pennsylvania, a local oil transportation hub, and the boomtown of Pithole, Pennsylvania. Constructed under the charter of the Clarion Land and Improvement Company, it was informally known as the Oil City and Pithole Branch Railroad. Although it was generally supported by the broad gauge Atlantic and Great Western Railway, it was built to standard gauge. Conflict with the Warren and Franklin Railway over the right-of-way along the Allegheny River led to a lawsuit which, in 1866, declared that the Oil City and Pithole had no right to operate along the river from Oleopolis, Pennsylvania to Oil City. That part of the line was sold to the Warren and Franklin, leaving the Oil City and Pithole with a 7-mile (10 km) line running north from Oleopolis to Pithole along Pithole Creek.
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