Aug 27, 2015
On this date in 1859, the first large-scale oil well began
operating in Titusville, Pennsylvania.
Here are some things you may not have known about the early
days of oil.
Oil naturally seeps from the ground in large parts of western
Pennsylvania. Native Americans had used the oil for centuries as an
insect repellant, and for medicinal and religious purposes. When
white settlers reached the area in the 1700s, the oil was regarded
more as a nuisance than a benefit, as it made farming
In the 1850s, Samuel Kier developed a way to distill kerosene
from crude oil, creating the first marketable product to be made
from the substance. Previously kerosene was made from coal, a
process that was not economical.
Encouraged by the new market for crude oil, the Pennsylvania
Rock Oil Company sent Edwin Drake to the Oil Creek Valley to begin
digging exploratory wells. Just as his funding was about to dry up,
Drake struck oil on August 27, 1859, triggering an oil rush. In
1859 the United States produced 2,000 barrels of crude oil. Ten
years later the total output increased to 4 million barrels a year.
The towns of Titusville, Oil City and the redundantly named Pithole
quickly sprung up to support the industry. The population of
Titusville increased from 250 residents to more than 10,000 in five
years time. At the time, Pennsylvania produced one-third of the
worlds' crude oil.
In 1895, the state of Ohio surpassed Pennsylvania as the
largest oil producer in the United States. Pennsylvania's share
further declined with discoveries in Texas, Wyoming and California
in the early 20th century.
Our question: What two major brands of oil products are named
after the state of Pennsylvania?
Today is also: Independence Day in Moldova. In the United
States, it is unofficially National Pots du Creme Day, and National
Just Because Day. It is the birthday of artist Man Ray, former U.S.
President Lyndon B. Johnson and actor Paul Reubens, better known as
Pee Wee Herman.
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