First American Oil Well
Mar 25, · Edwin Drake, in full Edwin Laurentine Drake, (born March 29, , Greenville, New York, U.S.—died November 8, , Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), driller of the first productive oil well in the United States. Raised on farms in New York and Vermont, Drake worked as a hotel and dry-goods clerk before becoming an agent for the Boston and Albany Railroad. Though he drilled only three oil wells in his lifetime, Edwin Drake () is known as the "Father of the Petroleum Industry" because the technology he devised to drill the first commercial oil well in the United States revolutionized how crude oil was produced and launched the large-scale petroleum industry. Click to see full answer.
Raised on farms in New York and Vermont, Drake worked as a hotel and dry-goods clerk before becoming an agent for the Boston and Albany Railroad. In he became a conductor on the New York and New Haven Railroadbut a few years later he had to retire for health reasons.
Inwhile living in New Haven, Connecticut, Drake met stockholders of the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, which claimed a lease on land near TitusvillePennsylvaniawhere oil had been gathered from ground-level seepages for medicinal uses. The company hoped to make money selling the oil for lighting, and to this vid the stockholders sent Drake to Titusville to assess the viability of the enterprise. After Drake returned to New Haven with a favourable report, the New Haven stockholders formed what did edwin drake do new dewin, the Seneca Oil Company, sold some stock to Drake, and djd him back to develop the site.
Seeing the futility of gathering oil from surface seeps or trying to mine it from excavated shafts, Drake studied the techniques of drilling salt wells and decided to bore for the oil. He began drilling in May and almost immediately found it impossible to maintain a borehole in the loose rock and soil just below the surface. He solved the problem by driving sections of pipe into the ground until bedrock was struck, and from there the drilling continued ddi the top of an oil deposit was reached at a depth of 69 feet 21 metres on August 27, Drake drilled two more wells for the Seneca company, but he failed to patent his drill-pipe methods and never became a success in oil speculation.
Inafter years of poverty, he returned to Pennsylvania, where he was eventually awarded a pension by the state legislature. Edwin Drake. Additional Info. More About Contributors Article History. Print Cite verified Cite.
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First oil well in the United States, built in by Edwin L. Drake, Titusville, Pennsylvania. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content.
Subscribe Now. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Drake bored successfully through 69 feet 21 metres of rock to strike edwjn in Pennsylvania, thus inaugurating the search for and exploitation of the deep oil resources of the world. While world supplies of oil expanded dramatically, the main demand was at first….
Drake in northwestern Pennsylvania. The completion of the well in What happened on april 12 in history established the groundwork sid the petroleum industry and ushered in the closely associated modern industrial age.
Within a short time, inexpensive oil from underground reservoirs was being what to look for when buying a winter coat at already existing…. During this same period the state became a leading producer of textiles, ships, lumber, tobacco, and, most important, iron and steel.
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Smelly But Useful Seep Oil
Diplomat and Prospector Born in Greenville, New York, Edwin Drake's first career was as a conductor on a brand new, sometimes dangerous conveyance: the railroad. In the late s, New Haven. Edwin Drake. Though he drilled only three oil wells in his lifetime, Edwin Drake () is known as the "Father of the Petroleum Industry" because the technology he devised to drill the first commercial oil well in the United States revolutionized how crude oil was produced and launched the large-scale petroleum industry. Edwin Laurentine Drake, born on March 11, , in Greenville County, . Though he drilled only three oil wells in his lifetime, Edwin Drake () is known as the 'Father of the Petroleum Industry' because the technology he devised to drill the first commercial oil well in the United States revolutionized how crude oil was produced and launched the large-scale petroleum industry.
Edwin Laurentine Drake March 29, — November 9, , also known as Colonel Drake , was an American businessman and the first American to successfully drill for oil. 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 , he married Philena Adams who died while giving birth to their second child in Drake remarried three years later to Laura Dowd, sixteen years his junior, in 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 , 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.
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 But his job opportunity with the company arose because both parties were staying in the same hotel in Titusville. The oil company chose the retired railway man partly because he had free use of the rail. 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 foot-long 3. 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 Drake was also running out of money. The men packed up for the day. 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 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.
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. This culminated with the establishment of several oil boom towns along the creek. Drake's well produced 25 barrels 4. By , the entire area was producing 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 He died on November 9, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania , where he had lived since He and his wife are buried at Titusville, next to a memorial built in his honor.
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 s. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American businessman. Greenville, New York , United States. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania , United States. See also: Drake Well. Pennsylvania Geology, v. Archived from the original on Retrieved World Digital Library.
The New York Times. July 22, American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Archived from the original on October 11, Retrieved July 8, Retrieved January 14, The history of the Standard Oil Company. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith. Categories : births deaths 19th-century American businesspeople American businesspeople in the oil industry Businesspeople from Pennsylvania Founders of the petroleum industry People from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania People from Greenville town , New York People from Castleton, Vermont.
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Download as PDF Printable version. Wikimedia Commons. November 9, aged 61 Bethlehem, Pennsylvania , United States. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Edwin Drake.