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The Drake Chapters
Introduction to the Drake Chapters
The Beginning of the Petroleum Industry
Oil Creek Before Drake's Well
Refining Seep Oil
Chemical Report of Seep Oil
Pinched Noses
Other Predicaments
Drake's First Visit to Titusville
Drake Commences Work at the Seep
Drake's Well
First Production
Petroleum Geology of the Drake Sand
Drake's Other Wells
Dismantling of the Derrick
The Deepening of the Drake Well
Among the First Players
Drake's Tomb

The Deepening of the Drake Well

In 1887, hoping to wring more oil from the Drake Well, the last owner, David Emery, re-entered the original hole and deepened it about 500 feet (153 m). Emery was already putting up small bottles of oil from the famous well and selling them as souvenirs, intending that the money be used to build a monument to Drake at the site. David Emery had plenty of experience in oil up and down Oil Creek, and he was the founder and chief officer of the Octave Oil Co. in which Milton Stewart (one of the founders of Unocal) was involved.

The account of the deepening (as so far researched) is sketchy. Apparently the deepened well did not produce fairly, probably due to early pressure depletion of the Venango sands which had produced via numerous wells in the area. Emery had penetrated these important sands with the possible exception of the Third sand which is spotty in that area.

We know that the total depth achieved by Drake (69 1/2 feet, 21.18 m) was the level of the Drake Sand (a stray sand above the Venango First sand). The top of the First would have been hit at +150 feet (46 m) and the top of the Second sand at +370 feet (113 m). The Venango Third sand was apparently not present (?). The well bottomed in shale. The stratigraphy as here written and these depths are generally quoted for the flats in this sector of Oil Creek.

Few people are aware of the deepening of the well. The very shallow total depth of Drake (69 1/2') is the figure that all of us, even me, think of when looking at the replica of the engine house and derrick and musing about Drake's accomplishment. The casing head and drive-pipe (both from Emery's days) are there.

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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