Monday, September 02, 2013

Oil Country


There probably would never have been an Automobile Age if we Humans hadn't hunted the Right Whale almost to extinction. You see, those whales were easy to hunt for their blubber which was rendered into whale oil for lamps. With their near extinction the price of lamp oil was through the roof and so Samuel Kier was motivated to invent a process to distill Kerosene (lamp oil) from Petroleum which seeped from the ground into Oil Creek near Titusville, Pa. In 1859 Colonel Drake was hired to attempt drilling for this Crude Oil. His well struck and produced more Crude in a few days than had ever been seen before, thus beginning the first Oil Boom. The term "Wild Cat" came from the dead Pennsylvania Bobcats guys would nail to the derricks of their rigs in hopes of good luck in hitting oil outside of the normal field. A byproduct of lamp oil production was Gasoline, the lighter and much more volatile fractions (mostly Octane, Heptane and Pentane) of crude oil. This gasoline was easy to vaporize and ignite with a spark, making the invention of light weight cheap internal combustion engines (suitable for personal locomotion) possible. Enter Otto and Ford and the rest is History.

C went with us on a sojourn to the place where it all began. First was a stop at Drake Well where we viewed the board by board operating replica of the original Rig and toured the grounds where a pumping system connected to several wells operates today:

The Engine

The engine powers this system
of rods which actuate the pump at each well.

Lots of old stuff there:

Then it was time to ride the train. The Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad operates a Mixed Train between Titusville and Rynd Station.

We went to the station at the Ghost Town of Petroleum Center to board the train. This green place was a town of 10,000 during the Boom.

Waiting for the Train

Our power was a "Canadian Alco"
(built by Montreal Locomotive Works)
M 420.

Grandpa and C rode in the open gondola car.
Three tank cars on
the tail end make this
a "mixed" train
(both passengers and freight).

At Rynd Station (end of the line) the three tank cars were dropped and two tank cars and a covered hopper were picked up for the return trip to Titusville.

Following the switching of cars out of and into the train we boarded and headed back Northward.

Again Grandpa and C headed for the open car.

Here we are crossing Oil Creek.

As well as being the only mixed train in America the OC and T is the last railroad to operate an RPO.
Letters mailed on the train are post marked RPO
(Railway Post Office).

A good adventure and a great day for all three of us.


1 comment:

  1. trista11:19 AM

    Send me the picture of C on the bridge over the creek. I would like to get it printed!


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