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The History of the Standard Oil Company, Volume 1, By Ida M.

Tarbell
One of the busiest corners of the globe at the opening of the year 1872 was a strip of Northwestern
Pennsylvania, not over fifty miles long, known the world over as the Oil Regions. Twelve years before
this strip of land had been but little better than a wilderness, its chief inhabitants the lumbermen, who
every season cut great swaths of primeval pine and hemlock from its hills, and in the spring floated them
down the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh. It was the discovery and development of a new raw product,
petroleum, which had made this change from wilderness to market-place. This product in 12 years had not
only peopled a waste place of the earth, it had revolutionised the worlds methods of illumination and
added millions upon millions of dollars to wealth of the United States.
The belief in the substance as a cure-all increased as time went on and in various parts of the country it
was regularly skimmed from the surface of the water as cream from a pan, or soaked up by woollen
blankets, bottled, and peddled as a medicine for man and beast.
Up to the beginning of the 19th century no oil seems to have been obtained except from the surface of
springs and streams. That it was to be found far below the surface of the earth was discovered
independently at various points in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania by persons drilling for
salt-water to be used in manufacturing salt.
Naturally the first use made of the oil obtained in quantities from the salt wells was medicinal . by the
middle of the century it was without doubt the great American Medicine.Seneca Oil seems to have been
the earliest name under which petroleum appeared in the East. It was followed by a large output Kentucky
petroleum sold under the name American Medicinal Oil. Several hundred thousand bottles of this oil
are said to have been put up in Burkesville, Kentucky, and to have been shipped to the East and to
Europe. The point at which the business of bottling petroleum for medicine was carried on most
systematically and extensively was Pittsburg. Near that town, at Tarentim in Alleghany County, were
located salt wells owned and operated in the forties by Samuel M. Kier. The oil which came up with the
salt-water was sufficient to be a nuisance, and Mr. Kier sought a way to use it. Believing it had curative
qualities he began to bottle it. By 1850 he had worked up this business until Kiers Petroleum, or Rock
Oil was sold all over the United States. The crude petroleum was put up in eight ounces bottles wrapped
in a circular setting forth in good patent-medicine style its virtues as a cure-all, and giving directions
about its use. While it was admitted to be chiefly a liniment it was recommended for cholera morbus, liver
complaint, bronchitis and consumption, and the dose prescribed was three teaspoonfuls three time a day!
Although Mr. Kier seems to have done a good business in rockoil, neither he nor any one else up to this
point had though it worth while to seek petroleum for its own sake. In 1854, George H. Bissell, a graduate
of Darmouth College, inquired into the origin of bottle of rock oil, and was told that it came from oil
springs located in Northwestern Pennsylvania.
Bissell seems to have been impressed with commercial possibilities of the oil, for he at once organised a
company, the Pennsylvania rock Oil Company, the first in the US, and leased the lands on which these oil
springs were located. He then sent a quantity of the oil to Professor Silliman of Yale College, and paid
him for anlaysin it. The professors report as published and received general attention. From the rock-oil
might be made as good an illuminant as any the world knew. It also yielded gas, parafinne, lubricating oil.
In short, declared Professor Silliman,your company have in their possession a raw material from
which, by simple and not expensive process they may manufacture very valuable products. It is worthy of
not that my experiments prove that nearly the whole of raw product may be manufactured without waster,
and this solely by a well-directed process which is in practice in one of the most simple of all chemical
processes.

Pennsylvania Rock Oil company received its first notion of drilling for oil from one of those trivial
incidents which so often turn the course of human affairs. As the story goes, Mr. Bissell was one day
walking down Boradway when he halted to rest in the shade of an awning before a drug store. In the
window he saw on a bottle curious label,Kiers Petroleum, or rock oil, it read, Celebrated for its
wonderful curative powers. A anural Remedy; Produced from a well in Allegheny co. Pa., four hundred
feet below the earths surface, etc. On the label was the picture of an artesian well. It was from this well
that Mr. Kier got his Natural Remedy. The label gave him the solution of the problem of getting oil in
quantities it was to bore down into the earth where it was stored, and pump it up.
Professor Silliman made his report to the Pennsylvania Rock-Oil Company in 1855, but it was not until
the spring of 1858 that a representative of the organisation, which by this time had changed hands and
was known as the Seneca Oil Company, was on the ground with orders to find oil. The man sent out was a
small stockholder in the company, Edqin L. Drake, Colonel Drake as he was called. Drake had no
experience to fit him for his task. A man forty years of age, he has spend his life as a clerk, an express
agent, and a railway conductor.
In 1859, Titusville was electrified by the news that Drakes Folly, as many of the onlookers had come to
consider it, had justified itself. The well was full of oil. The next day a pump was tarted, and 25 barrels of
oil were gathere.

World Energy Resources


By Charles Brown
The exploitation of petroleum, known to making and used in certain ways for thousands of years, is
believed to have commenced in 1857 in Rumania. Two years later, in 1859, the first modern-type oil well
was drilled in the USA, near Titusville in Pennsylvania. Although this oil discovery set off a wave of
exploration activity at this time in history, petroleum did not have much practical use until new
technologies evolved to increase demand.
The little petroleum that was being used till then was used mostly for heating and lighting and was
obtained from naturally occurring seepages that were readily and easily accessible on the land surface
with minor work. Till the end of 18 th century, petroleum was sought primarily to make kerosene to replace
whale oil previously used in lamps, but kerosene has received widespread use since that time. What made
petroleum one of the most sought after natural resources was the invention of the internal combustion
engine in the early 1900s and the subsequent development of the automobile industry which has
revolutionised transportation.
The first of the major oil discoveries outside the United States occurred in Iran in 1908, with other
discoveries being made in Venenzuela (1922), Iraq (1927), Bahrain (1932), Kuwait (1933), and the first
US offshore well completed in 1937. World petroleum markets have rapidly developed since that time.
Figure 2.6.1 shows the interactive nature and complexity of world petroleum
markets.
Natural gas in the US and the world has served as a vital energy resource since the 1970s, but growth has
been very rapid since the late eighties because it is environmentally a very benign source. In the early
days of petroleum production, natural gas (which often occurs associated with petroleum) was burned off
(flared) as a on-useable byproduct. In some areas and countries today, flaring is still done as an

engineering consequence and for safety. Natural gas became a prized commodity with the construction of
the pipeline network in the United States, and then rapidly replaced the town gas which was being used in
most USA cities. During the 25 year period from 1945 to 1970, natural gas usage in the USA grew at an
average annual rate of 6.5%, and by 1966 all the states in the USA, except Alaska and Hawaii, had been
connected by a network of pipelines for distribution of natural gas (at a total cost of about $17 billion.)
Throughout the world, there is currently more emphasis being put on the use of natural gas as a primary
product than as a waster product.