The early petroleum industry in the US

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The Early Petroleum Industry in the United States
Ancient Egyptians used bitumen for embalming, the Assyrians used it in building, the Chinese for heating and lighting, and for centuries fishermen have used it to make their boats watertight.
Naturally, man being what he is, was not content to let well alone, and soon petra- oleum (rock oil) and its associated products were being used in many delightful ways to cripple and annihilate his fellow men.
The famous "Green Fire" was used in various forms for many centuries once it became known that when a mixture of petroleum and ground quicklime is exposed to moisture spontaneous combustion takes place. The flaming mixture thus produced was thrown by a pump mounted on the prow of a warship and the consequent havoc wrought on the enemy's ships can easily be imagined.
Then oddly enough, the ancients knowledge of the properties of petroleum seemed to fall into abeyance and during the Middle Ages, and up to the beginning of the 19th century, petroleum was only remembered for its medicinal uses. It was to capitalize on this use that an American, Samuel Kier, decided to bottle the oil that seeped into his father's brine wells. He put it up in half pint bottles and advertised it as containing wonderful medical virtues.
Another American George H. Bissell, saw his advertisement but was interested in oil for other reasons so, together with a friend, he leased 105 acres of farmland, near Titusville, Pennsylvania, paying $5,000 dollars for a 99 year lease. So in 1854 the first oil lease was granted.
Having obtained the land, which he was fairly certain covered oil deposits, Bissell commissioned Edwin & Drake to drill a well for him. Drake did so and struck oil on August 27th, 1859. The first oil well had been sunk and a great industry had been born. Within a few months of the completion of the Drakwell, oil wells were being sunk all over the United States and within two years the country was exporting great quantities of oil.
Simple distillation of seep and salt well oil was being carried out in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by Samuel Kier who built a one-barrel still. He was buying crude by the gallon. Later Kier made a still of five-barrel capacity. These two stills for treating crude oil constituted the first commercial refinery in America. The five-barrel apparatus of Kier has survived and is in the Drake Well Museum.
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