Oldest Producing Oil Well

McClintock No.1 oil well has produced continuously since it was drilled in August 1861. It is located two miles north of Oil City, PA along Oil Creek. A state historical marker was erected along PA Route 8, 250 yards from the site of the well. It is presently owned by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, managed by the Drake Well Museum, and maintained by the Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers. There are a lot of people involved in an archaic well that produces a mere 12 barrels a month. The well has not actually been pumping oil non-stop for over 140 years, but it has been pumping oil from the same hole whenever the jack is turned on.

In 2001 during a production run the well was pumping more brine than oil. A dye test was done and a small hole was discovered in the well tubing. Team members of the Independent Petroleum Producers replaced the tubing with pipe sections donated by a local tube mill.

History

Hamilton McClintock was trapping oil from a seep on Oil Creek next to his property for years in the 1800s. He used a ring of timber to confine the oil and a maze of baffles to direct it to where it could be scooped off the surface of the water. A good seep could net 20 to 30 barrels a season. McClintock had one of the best seeps in the area. Another good seep was about fifteen miles north in Titusville, PA where Edwin Drake was trying to increase the output . In the mid 1800s oil was used primarily as an illuminant as well as a lubricant. Local Native Americans had used it for medicinal purposes for centuries.

Joel D. Angier drilled the McClintock well two years after Edwin Drake drilled his famous well in Titusville. Drake's Well was only 69 feet deep and was abandoned a few years later when it was barely producing. McCintock's well was drilled to a depth of 620 feet. It was soon pumping as much as 5000 barrels a day!

Joe Bowers and his brother John ran the well until the 1890s. A son of John's took over until 1919. It was then owned and operated by the Brundred Oil Corporation. In 1952 Quaker State Oil Refining Company bought McClintock No. 1 and the surrounding property. They pumped the well a couple times a year to maintain the distinction of being the oldest oil well in continuous year-to-year operation in the world.

In Closing

In May 2001 the well was officially transfered to the present group with a small ceremony at the site. One of the major challenges of pumping any oil from the well is brine disposal. The brine has to be shipped off at additional expense for the small amount of oil that is pulled out. There is also the cost of maintenance. Although an endowment was left by Quaker State, more financial help may be on the way to help keep the well going.

On November 20, 2004 the Oil Region National Heritage Area spending bill was approved by Congress and passed by the Senate and the House. This bill will provide as much as $1 million a year to help promote tourism and restore historic buildings in "The Valley That Changed The World". This includes all of Venango and parts of Crawford counties.

The birthplace of the oil industry will be further recognized on PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" in the near future. Highly fluctuating oil prices have become a regular topic in the news and are about due for an in-depth story. A production crew came through the area on Friday, December 3, 2004. The well was turned on for the camera crew and reporters.

Sources:

World's Oldest Producing oil well hits 140 (http://findarticles.com)
State Historical Markers Venango County (http://www.rootsweb.com)
Oil Valley included in feature on PBS (http://www.thederrick.com)

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