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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

An Oil Pipeline Proposal

In November, 1861, a proposal for a pipe line was put forth by Heman Janes at an oil producer's meeting at Tarr Farm on Oil Creek in Pennsylvania.  Janes had invested heavily in the Tarr Farm field on the east flank of the valley and wanted to transport the oil expeditiously, economically and safely to Oil City, about six miles south as the creek flows.  Too much oil was being lost due to flat boat wrecks in the creek or by wagon accidents on the muddy flats, those being the modes then in use for transporting oil barrels.  Janes thought in terms of a four-inch wooden pipeline which would be ditched along the creek's bank.  He expected that the oil would flow by gravity to Oil City, there being about 60 feet of gradient from the point of origin on the flats at Tarr Farm to the mouth of Oil Creek at Oil City.

A suggestion was given to Janes by Colonel E.C. Clark (Clark & Sumner of Tarr Farm) who thought that the first step should be to seek a general pipeline charter from the Pennsylvania Legislature.  Since a contract for laying the line was already worded, but not signed, it was quickly submitted to the Legislature in 1861.  However the bill was put aside due to a great outcry from the thousands of teamsters in the oil trade who feared that their livelihood would be wiped out.  At least Janes' pipeline bill was the first attempt to officially organize a pipeline company in Pennsylvania.  Another company, The Oil Creek Transportation Company, was successfully incorporated by the Legislature in 1862, and it included the right to lay pipe along Oil Creek as well as to "any point on the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad" (Giddens, 1938).  Unfortunately, as later attempts to lay pipelines were soon to show, the technology in the early 1860's wasn't quite up to the task, the pipes leaked and sabotage by the teamsters made the ventures quite hazardous.


© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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