Petroleum's Past In Pennsylvania

Trees AP

In our Spotlight this Sunday Morning, visitors took a ride on board the Titusville Railroad, which is north of Pittsburgh, through a valley that changed the world.

The ride's conductor explains that, for more than a century, the land over the creek was dotted with oil derricks, because the valley was the home of bubbling crude oil – Pennsylvania's black gold pride.

Railroad guide Bob Archer says the area once had 900 oil wells, and half a dozen boomtowns.

"Fortunes were made here," Archer says. "Andrew Carnegie earned his oil money [here] that he later used to help finance his steel making ventures."

Volunteer Lou Addelson says Oil Creek is aptly named.

"It used to be so full of oil, it would burn," he says. "Now, it's an outstanding trout stream. In fact, some weekends there's fly fishers every 20 yards."

Stopping at Drake Well, the train takes visitors to the world's first commercial oil well. It was drilled by Colonel Edwin Drake and blacksmith Billy Smith in 1859. A replica at the Drake Well Museum tells the story not just of Pennsylvania, but of the industrial revolution.

"There's not very many other things that really changed the world as much as the discovery of oil," Archer says.

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