Saturday, July 12, 2014

Drake Oil Well Museum & Park

Imagine a hillside dotted with oil rigs. Texas? No, in the late 1800s, parts of Pennsylvania!

Drake Well Museum and Park tells the story. Walking around the grounds, I learned some of the history of oil drilling and the machines used. Inside a replica of the first building was a steam engine used  for drilling. A tour host explained about Edwin Drake and Billy Smith. Drake, a former railroad conductor, had moved to Titusville and began to search for oil. He traveled to Pittsburgh, watched salt well drilling, hired an experienced driller Billy Smith, and bought equipment. Returning to Titusville, they began to drill. At one point, the hole began to cave in around the drill. Drake pounded in a cast iron pipe and drilled inside it. When they finally struck oil, other people got oil fever and began to drill nearby. Soon oil drilling rigs dotted the landscape. This became the birth of the modern petroleum industry in 1859.

In the Drake Well Park is a fascinating building of oil related transportation. When I visited, I saw a 1880 oil tank wagon, a 1912 Hatfield truck, a 1917 Sanderson drilling rig, a 1924 Fordson tractor with Myers Winch, a 1927 GMC Big Brute truck, a 1934 Ford V-8 Truck with tank, a 1937 Cletrac Crawler Tractor, and a 1947 Dodge Power wagon.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the museum part of the exhibit during my visit in May of 2012. The museum had closed most of its building for renovation. In September of that year they reopened it.

Here are a few photos of the park part of the historical site. 

Above is a replica of the first building which housed a steam engine and drilling rig. The museum personnel put up the brick wall for the safety of its visitors.

1880 Tank Wagon which was pulled by horses 

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