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Gathering Oil
Pre-Columbian Mining


This chapter addresses some of the various means that were used to extract petroleum from the surface and shallow subsurface in Pennsylvania's early oil region in the pre-Drake years. Mention is again made of surface seeps in the Oil Creek area. They were utilized as oil-gathering sites in the first half of the 15th century, in the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century (before Drake's well). They were probably visited during the 16th and 17th centuries too, but evidence of this has not yet been found. It is interesting that Pre-Columbian mining of petroleum at what became the Drake seep site on Oil Creek was perhaps the most sophisticated extraction operation of seep oil ever conducted in eastern North America even though it took place in the distant past and was carried out by people who remain mostly a mystery.

The Drake Well and the Pre-Columbian oil mines were at practically the same site. The location of Hamilton McClintock's creek seep is also shown on this map. There were other smaller seeps along the banks of Oil Creek and the Allegheny River.

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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