Who was the first man to strike oil?
Crude oil that seeped put from the surface was known to most ancient peoples. It was sometimes used in lamps and torches. In the United States, the Allegheny mountain region contained many rich oil fields. In places the oil lay so close to the surface that it seeped into streams.
The crude oil was used as medicine, and soon there was quite a demand for it. But no one thought of drilling for oil at first. Credit for the idea of drilling for oil is usually given to a New York lawyer named George Bissell.
Bissell had a sample of oil analyzed, and the chemist reported that petroleum could yield many useful products. So in 1857 Bissell hired a man named Edwin L. Drake to take charge of the oil properties on Oil Creek, near Titusville, Pennsylvania.
Drake decided to bore through the soft earth in search of oil. But the hole kept collapsing. Then Drake had a very important idea—why not line the hole with an iron pipe to keep the sides from falling in? This idea of a casing is used in every oil well drilled today.
On Sunday, August 28, 1859, the hole was 21 meters deep. Drake decided to come over to check the well. Down in the hole he saw a dark fluid. He let a dipper down on a string, pulled it up, and smelled the contents. It was oil!
He was the first man who had struck oil by drilling for it. The news spread quickly and the world's first oil rush began. The oil fever spread to other parts of the United States, Canada, and Europe. A new age had begun.