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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

Shippen's Promotion

In July or August, 1861, Evans W. Shippen, who had become involved with oil the year before, attempted to promote a pipeline along the lower six miles of Oil Creek to Oil City. He had noticed the high cost and dangers in transporting oil down the creek by flat boat or in wagons on muddy roads. Shippen estimated that $16,000 would be needed to buy pipe and lay the line.

Shippen first brought up the idea with local men of substance such as E. Culver (a banker), Dr. Halderman, Poole Brothers and others. They simply were not ready to think about a pipeline at that time. Undismayed, Shippen pursued the idea because flowing wells in Oil Creek Valley were being struck with great rapidity and 1000 barrels per day or more was seen by quite a few wells. Transportation of such quantity of oil was becoming a problem.

Shippen next tried to interest capitalists with whom he was acquainted in Philadelphia. He knew that most of them could have easily handled the project on their own account, but his explanations only attracted a pipe company who saw an opportunity to make money if their pipe was used to build the line. Finally, Mr. Townsend Whaler, a banker and stockbroker who was one of Shippen's capitalist friends told him, "I believe you are going crazy on the subject of oil." That settled the Philadelphia promotion and Shippen gave up for awhile although he later invested in pipelines which by then were a proven means of transportation of oil. Philadelphia people, being at a distance from the oilfields and not subject to the oil fever, were tough nuts to crack in those very early oil days.

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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