Well drilling was common with many recent improvements by the time the Drake well was sunk, although most were drilled for salt brine (a source of salt). Oil was sometimes found in these wells and pumped as an unwanted by-product, but by the late 1800s, several changes made oil more valuable.
Whaling had been the primary source for illuminating oil (lamp oil), but whales had been over-hunted and were becoming scarce, and the cost of harvesting them was increasing. Also, by the 1850s, scientist had discovered the potential for manufacturing kerosene from crude oil which was found to be an ideal replacement. [Read more…] about Russell Ormsbee’s Oil Adventure