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Early Oil Pipelines, USA
Oil Pipeline Idea
Shippen's Promotion
An Oil Pipeline Proposal
Wood and Metal Pipes
The Need for Pipelines
An Oil Pipeline Scheme
Pipelines, Failure and Success
1865, The Van Syckel Pipeline
1865, The Big Year
Gathering Lines
The Pipeline War
The Teamsters, A Good Word
A Flurry of Pipelines
First Great Pipeline Company

Gathering Lines

Although joints of pipe of various diameters were used for different purposes around (and in) the early wells, only a few wells were connected by a metal pipe to a common storage tank or lease tank, and these were wells spaced in a cluster and under the same ownership.  Most wells stood alone, and the operator saw to the first leg of shipping in barrels, either by wagon or flat boat (or both), prior to the pipeline. 

When the successful pipelines strongly entered the scene in 1865-66 a change in the picture was brought about by A.W. Smiley, oil buyer for the Van Syckel and other pipelines at Pithole.  He realized that the task of hauling oil from each well to the main pipeline receiving stations could be avoided if a network of two-inch lines were laid from the wells' stock tanks to the dump stations which served the individual pipelines.  This short hauling job was previously handled by teams.  These lines are known today as gathering lines, but Smiley and his partner George E. Coutant called them collectively "the accommodation pipeline".  This oilfield network at Pithole charged 25 cents per barrel and, of course, saw the oil start on its way through the main pipeline to Miller Farm.  The teamsters had been charging three dollars or more to haul six barrels by wagon the short distance from the well's tank to the pipeline's dump station (50 cents per barrel).  Not only was the accommodation pipeline a cheaper means of getting oil to the dump stations, it was more speedy and safer.

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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