Edwin "Colonel" Drake
edwin drake

Edwin Laurentine Drake, also known as Colonel Drake, was
an American oil driller that is considered to be the first person
to drill for oil in the United States. Drake was born in
“Greenville, New York on March 29, 1819 and grew up in
Castleton, Vermont”(2). Before oil became his main venture,
Drake worked various jobs involving the railroad. At that time
the railroad was new and very dangerous. In the late 1840’s
Drake was hired by the Seneca Oil Company to “investigate
oil deposits in Titusville, Pennsylvania”(2). The main reason
that Drake was picked over other people for this job was
because he had free use of the railroad. Up until this point
there was no market for petroleum products. There were even
many cases of outcrop; which is when a layer of oil is
exposed on the surface. People drilled for water and salt, but
crude oil was an unwanted byproduct.                                                                     [a]
                                                                    The reason that petroleum became profitable was because                                                                     whale oil was beginning to decrease due to the overuse of                                                                         lamps. Petroleum was found to provide kerosene for lamps,                                                                     which made it significant. Drake decided that the best way                                                                     to find oil was to dig for it. After he failed to obtain oil in                                                                         several months, Seneca Oil Company abandoned him.                                                                             Instead of giving up, Drake asked for the help of his friends                                                                     to continue the drilling. To increase productivity, he used                                                                         the cable tool method of drilling, which is discussed further                                                                     later on in this site. Oil workmen drilled all summer, six                                                                         days a week, with the Sabbath Drake's inviolable day                                                                             off”(3). On August 27th, 1859 Drake reached a total depth                                                                     of 69 feet and struck oil. A pitcher pump was used to get it                                                                     to the surface a bath tub was used to keep the oil. The oil                                                                         was collected in a bath tub. Drake was able to extract 10                                                                         barrels a day of crude oil.
                                                                    Drake is also credited for constructing a casing. He noticed                                                                     that after a certain depth, the sides of the hole began to                                                                             collapse. Drake devised a drive pipe that the drilling tools                                                                         could be lowered thru. Drake’s well at Titusville was “the                                                                     first well to be widely copied”(2). Once he struck oil,                                                                             people began imitating his methods immediately. Even                                                                             though many people became rich because of Drake’s                                                                             discovery, Drake himself had trouble keeping money. He                                                                         kept investing in oil projects that didn’t pan out. He died on                                  [b]                               “November 9th, 1880 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where                                                                     he had lived since 1874”(2).

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