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Andrew Carnegie and the Columbia Oil Farm
William Story Farm
The New Pittsburgh Owners
Columbia Farm
Carnegie's First Visit to Oildom
Carnegie's Pond
The Columbia Oil Company
Brass Band
The Earnings
Wells and Operations
Carnegie's Departure
Trivia (?)
Concluding Remarks

The Earnings

Carnegie’s investment in the Columbia Oil Company was a lucrative success. In spite of even greater fortune which followed closely, oil from the Columbia Farm gave him the financial substance to stand among the rich and to be reckoned with.

In 1863 the company approved four dividends from July to October. The July 1863 dividend was 30%! This was followed by two 25% payments and in October of that year a whopping dividend of 50% was given!

One biographer writes that Carnegie had apparently put in slightly over $11,000 and got back $17,868 in the second semester of the first dividend year. The Columbia Oil Company stock was obviously in the blue chip category.

In spite of Columbia Oil Company year-end financial statements, some of which are published, and estimates of Carnegie’s individual gain as given differently by various sources (even a personal income tax report was published), it is difficult to grasp Carnegie’s real earnings in oil. In any case they were high. McLaurin in his book The Valley of Petroleum (see bibliography) states that the “original stockholders received their money back forty-three times”. Due to splitting or issuing of more stock, “the original holders received ten times their original stock and drew dividends on all of it.”

While all this money was being paid out to investors, the company continued to run smoothly and make advances overall. It was the model enterprise of Oil Creek Valley and the best example of management. Innovations made in drilling and production techniques at Columbia Farm put the operation in the technical limelight too.

Certain spectacular wells elsewhere in Oil Creek Valley came in at astounding rates such as 1000 barrels to 3000 barrels a day. One well on the east bank (Tarr Farm) opposite Columbia Farm came in at 4000 barrels per day. Columbia Farm didn’t have giants of such magnitude. Nevertheless, a well of much less volume could pay out and make a profit due to proper and conservative handling.

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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