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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

Petroleum Geology of the Drake Sand

Parke Dickey, 1941 (then with the Pennsylvania Geologic Survey), wrote a geological description of the strata drilled by the Drake Well (see bibliography). The Upper Devonian Riceville Formation shale underlies the creek alluvium and glacial outwash at this site. The top of this bedrock was hit at 32 feet (9.75 m) depth. Drake's driller continued 37 1/2 feet (11.43 m) into the rock and stopped, the total depth being 69 1/2 feet (21.18 m). At its bottom, the well had reached a thin, stray sandstone, possibly two and one-half feet thick (0.76 m). In fact, the borehole must have encountered the feather edge of this stray sandstone because it wasn't found in a well later drilled directly across the creek or in wells to the south. It's stratigraphic development might have been northward. Considering the financial situation, Drake was indeed lucky to have found this oil-bearing stray at this shallow depth, which, although little is known about it, has been dignified by the name Drake Sand. Luckier still that any oil was in it because the stray, if it carried on in an upstream direction (northward), must have been broached by glacial and stream erosion. It would crop out (by scour) under the drift somewhere in that northern direction. Fresh water in this valley apparently entered the stray sand and provided the drive to cause the oil to rise in Drake's well.

In spite of difficulties, Providence smiled on this pioneer effort, and allowed this very shallow hole to bring in a vital new industry.

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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