Pennbradoil Museum

The nineteenth century was an era of huge change and speedy industrialization. The steel and iron industry gave rise to new materials for construction, the railroads linked the country up and oil discoveries offered a new fuel source. This paved the way for the use of modern plastic oil tanks. US settlers utilized oil as a medicinal illuminant, and as wagon and tool grease. Shale distilled rock oil was offered as kerosene, even prior to the Industrial Revolution.

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The Early Entrepreneurs

Whilst traveling through Austria, New York merchant John Austin noticed a cheap, efficient oil lamp. He produced a superior model to the kerosene lamp. Soon, the US rock oil industry flourished as the price of whale oil increased, due to the scarcity of this mammal. In 1859, entrepreneur Samuel Downer Junior patented the trade name "Kerosene" and licensed its' use. As oil refining and production increased, prices fell. This became an industry characteristic.

Oil Corporations

The Pennsylvania Rock oil Firm of Connecticut (subsequently the Seneca oil Firm) was the 1st oil corporation formed to develop oil discovered floating on the water, close to Titusville, Pennsylvania. New York solicitor, George Bissell, and New Haven businessman, James Townsend, expressed an interest when Dr Ben Silliman (from the University of Yale) analyzed an oil bottle and stated that it would produce light effectively. Bissell and numerous friends bought land close to Titusville and hired Edwin Drake to find the oil there. Expert salt driller, William Smith, was employed by Drake to oversee drilling operations. On the 27th of August 1859, they located oil 69 feet underground. Purportedly, this was the 1st occasion when oil was discovered at its' source, with drilling.

Further Industry Developments

Titusville, along with other local towns, prospered. One person who learned about the news was John Rockefeller. Due to his entrepreneurial instinct and his ability to organize firms, Rockefeller became a pioneering figure in the US oil industry. During 1859, he and his partner ran a commission company in Cleveland. This company was quickly sold and Rockefeller went on to build a compact oil refinery. In 1866, Rockefeller bought his partner out and opened a New York based export office. The following year he, Henry Flagler and his brother William Harkness formed what became the Standard Oil Firm. Many believe that Flagler had almost as significant an impact on the oil industry as Rockefeller had himself.

The Growth of the Rockefeller Firm

Further discoveries close to the Drake Well led to the formation of numerous oil companies. As a result, the Rockefeller firm rapidly started to merge with or buy out its' competitors. In 1870, Standard had grown to be the biggest oil refining company in Pennsylvania. Mainly, Cleveland became the refining industry's focal point due to its' transport network. By 1871, once product prices fell, the ensuing hysteria led to the start of the Standard Oil alliance. Within 11 years, the firm became partially integrated vertically and horizontally, and hailed as 1 of the great global corporations.