Warren County Historical Society
210 Fourth Avenue
Warren, Pennsylvania 16365
Celebrate the 2009 Sesquicentennial of Oil Heritage

   * On August 27, 1859, Edwin L Drake “struck oil” near Titusville Pa. Two days after Drake’s well came in, Colonel Robinson of Titusville rode his horse over to Tidioute where he halted at Samuel Grandin’s general store and related what had taken place in Titusville. Among those in the store who listened to the story was twenty-two year old John L. Grandin, Samuels’s son.  He reasoned that if Drake had found oil in Titusville he might be able to find oil at Tidioute. He rode his horse to the Campbell Farm along Gordon Run and purchased thirty acres of land for $300 because an oil spring was located on it.
   The following morning he called on Henry H. Dennis and asked him if he thought he could provide the tools for putting down a well and do the actual drilling.  After giving the matter some thought, Dennis replied, “Well, I think, by God, I can do it if anyone can.”                                                                  
   The next day a rough derrick of four twenty-foot scantlings was constructed, a spring pole erected, the drilling tools attached, and thus on August 31, four days after Drake found oil, the world’s second well drilled specifically for petroleum was commenced.
   The well was the first to be drilled in Warren County but proved to be unsuccessful as it was a dry well.
   The earliest oil lease, that has been found, in Warren County was given by W. W. Wallace for his land in Deerfield Township, just above Tidioute along the Allegheny River, to Emerson King of Titusville who assigned the lease to J. M. Ferris on September 6, 1859.
   In Warren County the biggest drilling activity centered at Tidioute and by July 1860 more than sixty wells were being drilled.  The Russell or Hequembourg well, across the river from the village, was the best known and this well struck oil August 13. Drilling was started by the spring-pole method and wooden pump logs were used with a common pitcher pump placed on the well for pumping. Two youngsters were hired to handle the pumping and after fifteen minutes a heavy flow of oil leaped twenty feet into the air and production was estimated at between 100 to 300 barrels a day. But the well was shallow, decreased in yield and by 1865 it was no longer producing.
   On September 4, 1860, a well on Tidioute Island commenced flowing and as far as is known, this was the first successful well ever drilled on an island.  During October an oil well was started at Kinzua, Warren County, which was more than forty miles northeast of Tidioute and the furthest distance away of any projected well at this time.
   In the fall of 1860 there were nearly fifty rafts floating in the Allegheny River along the Tidioute shore with derricks established on board of them and with drilling being done from the rafts.  Suddenly a flood came and in one night swept all the derricks out of the river.  Drilling from off-shore rigs, which has now become common, began in Warren County in 1860.
   The first large oil fire and the disaster from it, befell a Warren County man and though it actually took place in Venango County, it greatly affected Warren County. Henry R. Rouse became interested in the possibilities of petroleum as soon as he heard of Drake's success. Leasing the Buchanan farm along Oil Creek, he commenced drilling promptly. One well which was started in October, 1860, was disappointing and he soon subleased it to Little & Merrick.
   Rouse was seated with a group of men on the evening of April 17, 1861, in the St. Anthony Hotel. After dinner had been finished a greasy workman stuck his head in the door and yelled, "We've hit a big one, Mr. Rouse. Better come and see it!"
   Rouse was standing within twenty feet of the hole when a great explosion rent the air and at once the well, the oil spurting overhead, and an acre of marshy oil-soaked ground surrounding the site, was aflame. Mr Rouse did not lose possession of his mind for an instant. He remembered the ravine, and dashed for it. From his clothing he jerked a book containing valuable papers and a wallet containing a large sum of money, throwing them far outside of the fire, where they were afterwards found in safety. He had gone but a dozen steps when he fell. He buried his face in the mud to prevent inhalation of the flames; then bounded again up the ravine, falling a second time. Two men barely endured the heat long enough to seize and drag him from the fire.
   The men who dragged Rouse from the fire, took him to the shanty of Colonel A. S. Prather and a sheet was ripped from a nearby clothes line and Rouse was tightly wrapped in it to keep the air away from him as much as possible.
   Men fed him water, drop by drop, and Rouse soon asked for one of his managers. As Wright was not present, N. F. Jones volunteered to write Rouse's will. In dictating it in twenty-three sections, remembering friends, relatives, and the brave men who had pulled him from the fire, he ended by giving the entire balance of his estate to the Commissioners of Warren County, half to be used for the benefit of the poor and half for improving the roads.
   During 1865 the Rouse funds were used to purchase a 400 acre farm at Youngsville, Pennsylvania, on which excellent brick buildings were erected. After more than a century of use, the Rouse Home is still operating, has constantly increased its usefulness to the county, has been enlarged and much improved, and stands as a fitting monument to Henry Rouse, oildom's first philanthropist. 
   It is likely that the first refinery in Warren County was located at the mouth of Gordon Run near Tidioute. From this location shipment by barges was a simple process as the plant bordered the Allegheny River.
   Near Warren proper, at least one small refinery was operating in 1861.
   Refineries were fire prone, but the fire danger was even greater at drilling locations and fire proved the greatest single menace to the early oil men.  The first refineries were crude and inefficient and after kerosene had been distilled from the crude, the residue was considered waste and most often disposed of by running it into a convenient stream.                                                        Early oil producers in Warren County had considerable trouble moving their crude to  market.  Producers had to rely on hundreds of teamsters to transport their filled barrels to the nearest railroad shipping points.  The only railroad within thirty miles of the first wells was then known as the Sunbury and Erie and the western line ran only from Warren to Erie.  On May 15, 1861, the newly built Atlantic & Great Western Railroad met the Philadelphia and Erie line at Corry, and this point soon became the intersection of the two great oil-carrying trunk lines.  In Warren County proper, oil from the wells went by team to Garland and Pittsfield, both on the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad.  Lesser quantities of county-produced crude oil went to Corry after May 15, 1861.  
Along the Allegheny River, transportation varied.  Flatboats were loaded with barrels of oil and the boats were pulled by horses when the river was low enough; bulk boats, and boats with compartments were constructed. The oil from the large wells often ran directly into these vessels and they drifted down river with the current.
   Well before the year 1860 was over, Warren County men formed the Tidioute and Warren Oil Company, probably the first formally organized oil company in the county and possibly the first in the nation following Drake’s well.  The company consisted of ten shares of stock costing $1,000 per share.
   The Cornplanter Indian Grant has existed in the northeastern corner of Warren County since 1791, consisting of some 600 acres bordering the Allegheny River.
After the discovery of oil it did not take white men long to lease lands on this Grant for test wells.  No actual drilling took place on these lands due to the uncertain position of land ownership in connection with the Cornplanter Grant.  In 1966 the waters from the new Kinzua Dam flooded most of the Grant lands and all but a few acres passed to Federal ownership.
   In the years 1873 and 1874 wells were being drilled and land tested in many parts of Warren County.  New test wells went down along Hosmer Run near Garland, some drilled in the ancient oil pits found there.  At Colorado, located between Enterprise and New London, oil was found at an average depth of 525 feet with some of these wells yielding as much as 150 barrels a day.
   In 1875 David Beaty drilled a well close to his handsome new brick home in Glade Township, on the west side of Conewango Creek across from the town of Warren.  He was seeking gas for heating his home and for cooking purposes but at 641 feet oil was found.  Initially measured at 100 barrels a day, the well decreased rapidly and ended as a small producer but it did supply gas.
   The Beaty “strike” urged local and area men to try their hand at drilling and in a very short time wells were going down thickly in Glade Township.
   In 1876 drilling was being done in Pleasant Township, the Russell area, Kinzua, Youngsville, the Allegheny River islands, Jackson Run, Follett Run, and Glade Run.  And at Sheffield, in April of 1876, the Hague well turned out to be a very big gasser.
   As early as July 1875, production in the area of the Beaty well had increased to a point where transportation to the rails was a problem and a group of producers decided to install a two-inch pipeline across the Conewango Creek bridge and down along Fifth Street, over the foot of a hill, to a point near the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad depot where a collection tank of 1,500 barrels was to be erected. The pipe was to be laid in the ditch and under crossings.  Prompt action was taken and by late July, the line, known as the Conewango Pipe Line, was completed and ready for business.  By August 1877 the Warren field production was 700 barrels daily.
   Rumors of a Warren refinery to be built were first mentioned in a Warren newspaper on September 4, 1877. Opposition to such a plant within borough limits was promptly voiced.  Therefore, the Conewango Refining Company was built just north of the town, bordering Conewango Creek and alongside the D. A. V. & P. Railroad.  Constructed by William Doe of Rouseville, the capacity of the plant was 1,000 barrels a week.  Operations started in December 1877.
   From 1875 to 1900 it was hardly possible to read Warren newspapers without being told of new wells and new production and the gradual expansion of the Warren field.
   The most famous oil field ever found in Warren County was in the Cherry Grove area.  
In the middle 1870’s Henry Landsrath, an experienced oil man, decided that somewhere in the region between Kane & Warren, rich oil-bearing territory should be found. At Balltown, Kane, and Sheffield, his trial wells proved dry. Next he decided to drill in Cherry Grove Township of Warren County. On map tract 668, six miles west of Sheffield and the same distance southwest of Clarendon, he drilled a well over 2000 feet deep and once more got only a dry well. Because of financial straits, Landsrath was unable to drill more.
   Landsrath sold his Cherry Grove leases to William T. Falconer of Warren who induced jeweler, Frederick Morck, to join him in the venture. Morck and Falconer subleased their land to George Dimick , who, with Captain Peter Grace, operated under the name of the Jamestown Oil Company.
   When Dimick encountered Henry Landsrath, he asked him where he would have drilled his next well had he continued and Landsrath replied “On the northwest corner of 646.” With that clue, a well commenced that was to amaze all of oildom.
   Early in March 1882 it was discovered that the new well was guarded, the derrick tightly boarded, the work halted, and armed guards posted to keep the curious away.
   The trade reasoned that the well was probably good but the owners were withholding the news, purposely stalling for time while they purchased and leased additional land in the vicinity. 
   According to the well owner, “the 646 mystery” struck sand and made good show of oil on March 11, then was plugged tight until March 29 when the plug was drilled out and oil flowed stronger than before.  Sufficient tankage was not available to handle such a flow and as the well was being carefully watched, the plug was again inserted.
   The public had been fooled but only temporarily. On May 17 the plugs were removed and the drill bit deeper, the following day the estimated flow was from 300 to 500 barrels and this climbed until on May 23 the gusher yielded over 2,000 barrels daily.
   When “646” was nearly finished, Michael Murphy of Philadelphia bought lot 619, northwest of the well, paying $100 per acre.
   Murphy rushed his well down only to meet disaster.  On May 9, the rig caught fire and burned, but was rebuilt in a frenzy and on June 2 his No. 1 well started to throw 1,600 barrels of oil a day.  Just a month later his No. 2 well began at the rate of 3,600 daily and this proved one of the best wells in the field.
   The “646” well, along with Murphy’s gusher, found in a region long believed to be nonproductive for crude oil, brought the oil pack rushing into the new field like hungry wolves. They came after land and leases and oil, and they brought with them teams and drilling equipment.  The incoming horde knew but did not care that “646” had wrecked the oil market and had caused crude oil to finally reach its lowest price in twenty years.
   Two plank roads were used to enter this region and long wagon lines were common; some days 500 teams traveled the roads. For single teams the toll was twenty cents, for double teams thirty cents, and for heavier loads of boilers and casings, two dollars was charged.
Warren experienced a business boom, too, something it was not used to having. Oil supply houses were quickly cleaned out while grocery and clothing stores did a thriving business; Morck’s jewelry store was termed “the 646 store” because the owner was one of the original Cherry Grove leaseholders. On many days 2,500 telegrams flooded the Western Union office and nine extra operators were employed to handle the rush.
   So many oil-seekers crowded about the “646” location and surrounding forests, that crowded quarters were the rule. Tents served nobly at first, and later Farnsworth’s barn was packed nightly with exhausted men, eager to have body space and an old blanket at fifty cents. As the population increased rough board shanties made their appearance and a town was born on the southeastern corner of tract 646; it was called Garfield. Farnsworth was a little to the south as was Vandergrift, while Tough City and Granny City were slightly to the north. Garfield was the largest with a population in excess of 6,000.
   Cherry Grove did not escape crime. On one calm Sunday seven robberies took place. Oil and equipment were often stolen and bribery was the accepted method to gain advance information on any subject. Strange events were common. Sickness struck many and this was due chiefly to unsanitary conditions; dysentery and general debility were common but not too serious.
   Dr. Evan O’Neil Kane, who later gained fame for operating on himself many times, had one of his first confinement cases at Cherry Grove; there, in a wooden shanty beneath the floor of a huge oil derrick, he delivered a healthy baby boy and that boy became Howard M. Cleveland, a well-known physician at Mount Jewett, Pennsylvania.
   The only resident doctor in this section among the derricks was a young man fresh from medical school who commenced his work at Farnsworth. After the oil boom had vanished, he moved to Sheffield and continued his work for many years; Dr. George T. Pryor gained many friends for his kindness during the oil excitement and served rich and poor alike under conditions few doctors ever have to face.
   Late in 1881, a new monthly petroleum magazine was inaugurated at Bradford. An oil exchange, high crude productivity, and much drilling activity, made the town the logical home for an oil publication and The Petroleum Age had gained considerable importance by the time Cherry Grove sprouted. Full reports of the Warren County strike constituted part of the news but from the outset the Age was slightly antagonistic and more than a little sarcastic about the Cherry Grove developments, and it quickly predicted the field would soon die out. But the magazine did render valuable service by reporting the drilling accomplished month by month.
   As production increased and tank after tank was erected to store crude oil, the alert pipelines raced each other to shove their lines into the area, each eager and intent on handling as large a percentage of the crude as possible.
   There was no lack of competition among the anxious pipe companies. Following Farnsworth Creek, the Union Pipe Line put an eight-inch line into the “646” well and the United took about the same general route and placed a three-inch line to Murphy’s well.
   On June 6, this same line announced preparations to move 10,000 barrels of oil daily from Cherry Grove but the capacity of the new field had been grossly underestimated. In less than one week this announcement was revised and the company stated they would make ready to handle 40,000 barrels daily from Cherry Grove.
   The chief competition was between Tidewater and the United Pipe Lines, but the latter, being a subsidiary of the Standard Oil Trust, eventually did the greatest business. At Vandergrift, it installed eight ninety-horsepower boilers and two huge pumps in less than thirty-five days and at the same station a great Worthington-Duplex pump was installed; at the time it was the largest in the world and it excited a great deal of curiosity.
Crude came faster than the lines were laid and excess oil ran over the tanks and the Arnot and Farnsworth branches of Tionesta Creek often flowed oil instead of water. In July the pipeline companies ruled that producers had to have 4,000 barrels of storage capacity in order to allow their crude “to settle,” for they maintained fresh crude oil gummed up their lines. But even when excess crude backed up as it did, none moved from the region except by the lines. Pipeline runs increased steadily through September 1 and on that day 40,000 barrels really did move through the pipes but this was the largest single shipment from the territory.
   The three summer months brought fires and heavy losses for some producers. During this period the Anchor Oil Company came in with 3,000 barrels production and four days later a careless man passed too close to the storage tanks with a lighted lantern. Fire started, burned the rig and 5,000 barrels of oil. Two daredevils, Vic Gretter and S. E. Humphrey, contracted to extinguish the blaze for $3,000 and they did so by employing a small cannon-like device, using a bolt for a projectile, shooting off the casing-head top, and then capping the well. While this well burned, “646” was furnishing too much oil so the excess was run away from the well and burned to get it out of the way. Michael Murphy, with hard luck at his heels again, lost his No.1 well to fire for the second time plus 9,200 barrels of empty tankage and 4,000 barrels of crude.
   The Warren & Farnsworth Valley Railroad was a unique narrow gauge line built by Warren capitalists led by Myron Waters. It ran from North Clarendon to Garfield and Dunham’s Mills, a total of thirteen miles. Built hurriedly to secure the revenue from heavy freight hauls occasioned by the great amount of oil-producing equipment offered by the region, ground was first broken on April 24, 1882, and on August 3, the first train was running. Credit for building with such speed went to A. D. Wood, an experienced railroad construction engineer who had helped build the famous Oil Creek Railroad. The line commenced with three engines plus thirty-six freight cars and three passenger coaches. Fare for passengers was at one dollar a round trip or eighty cents for a one-way fare. The road paid at least one dividend, that being five percent in July of 1886.         
   Optimism was the order of the day and about Warren roved a large number of traders and speculators. These were the men who made the wheels spin, and they bought, sold, traded, and dickered oil and oil lands as though their very lives depended on it.
   A desire to invest in oil seized the people and something was promptly done to afford such citizens a release mechanism for their enthusiasm. An oil exchange was conjured up and was first mentioned in The Warren Mail of June 13. As organized July 7, the Warren Oil Exchange had 150 charter members who paid fifty dollars each. Capital stock was $15,000 and the membership was limited to 300. The first transaction was arranged as a sale of 50,000 barrels of oil made by George Wetmore to C. N. Payne for fifty-seven and one-half cents a barrel.
   The inexperienced citizenry tried their hands as Exchange experts and while the majority lost rather than gained, there were always others ready to take their place.
   September found much speculation in oil certificates by old as well as young alike and by November found oil hitting a high of one dollar on the Exchange. When the magic figure was reached, the place became a bedlam. Oil investing became greater than ever before.
But such happiness was not to be permanent. After crude climbed to $1.37 per barrel in November, those who had sold the market “short” had to break it down in order to cover their sales. They were aided when Anchor Oil Company’s latest well was tapped and responded with several hundred barrels yield. “Black Friday” came November 17 and the market tumbled down until it was below ninety cents. Many Warren County “lambs” were slaughtered and the regional loss was conservatively estimated at over $5,000,000. Nothing more clearly points out the trend and optimism of those days than the knowledge that just one week after “Black Friday,” oil men at Clarendon met and formed their own oil exchange. They soon had ninety-three members and operated for a short time.
Ruination for many on the exchanges signified the beginning of the end. For two months glycerin had been used freely in Cherry Grove wells and after September production fell rapidly. The Sardine Oil Company finished a well in August and their first day it produced 2,000 barrels, finally declining to 274 barrels. Besides the flowing wells being affected, water seeped through the field from abandoned wells and wrecked many others.
Before this sudden decline, Cherry Grove had gained national recognition as the greatest oil boom ever known and it was claimed to have surpassed the famous Pithole furor of 1865.
Real estate values collapsed and lots of from two to five acres that had cost $15,000 and one-quarter of the oil as royalty, became nearly worthless.                                           
The narrow gauge railroad was used by F. H. Rockwell & Company interests to haul bark and logs from the forest and later taken over by the Penn Tanning Company. It was then abandoned and 1934 when the United States Forestry Service built a road from North Clarendon to Cherry Grove, the rail grade was used as the roadbed most of the way.
Cherry Grove carved a niche for itself in the eternal record book of petroleum; the amazing output from the narrow cigar-shaped territory of about 2,270 acres has never been equaled in any region producing Pennsylvania grade crude oil. While difficult to believe, it is true that the great “646” well was producing only five-eighths of a barrel of oil a day as the year 1882 came to a close.
Following the Cherry Grove excitement, production continued in many smaller wells throughout the county. Glade, Kinzua, North Warren, the State Hospital lands at North Warren, Donaldson’s, and the Sheffield area all yielded interesting wells.
On July 4, 1887, Clarendon was nearly completely destroyed by a fire of unknown origin.
A small refinery to be built on five acres of land in Glade Township, between the river and the railroad, was announced and in less than three months it was partially completed and refining crude oil. Additional refineries were constructed as well; the Cornplanter Refining Company was built in 1888 as was the Glade Filtering Works (also known as the Holmes Oil Refinery). This was followed by the Muir Refining Company. The Crew Levick Company came into being with the combination of the Glade Filtering Works and the Muir interests.
   During 1900 the old pipeline that had been laid on top of the ground from the Beaty well area to the freight station along lower Fifth Street in 1875 and 1876 was removed.  
   Between 1886 and 1905, little of great importance or interest happened in Warren County in petroleum development. Some refineries were built, some burned down, some good wells were struck and dry holes continued to be common.
   But in August, 1905, things changed suddenly. On lower Irvine and Carver Streets, and along the river in that area, generally called the East Side "flats,"John Larson had drilled a water well by driving a pipe to the water level, and he had connected this well to his outside toilet in such a manner that the toilet could be flushed into the sewer. Every week it was the duty of Edgar Larson, a son, to flush the entire system thoroughly with water from the well. One day he went out back to complete this weekly chore, but instead of water, there came a dark oily mixture. The next week crude oil came from the well! The quality was verified by the Seneca Oil Works chemist only a block away.
   John Larson lost no time in getting wooden barrels, installing a pitcher pump, and pumping the barrels full of oil. He rolled the barrels to the refinery where they brought the full price being paid for Tiona grade crude oil, $1.47 a barrel.
   At first no one else knew of the discovery, but his neighbor, Charles Haggstrom, saw what was happening so he drove down a well at the rear of his house. Oil came up and he pumped it into his bathtub and from there into barrels. What was a bath compared to flowing "black gold?!
   On August 22 the newspaper carried the news in headlines and in a brief time the area had been trampled into a dirty mass of ruined gardens, vines, and shrubs. Some businessmen rushed to the site and paid $25 to $100 for a pipe with a pitcher pump on it.
 Royalty land interests were from one-eighth to two-fifths of the productions.
   Production increased and draymen were hired to cart the barrels to the refinery, generally the Wilburine Oil Company.
   Most of the oil was found at a depth of from 15 to 25 feet. The best wells produced up to 50 barrels a day but such production lasted only ten days to two weeks. By October 23 the excitement was over and it never was discovered exactly what had caused the event; some said it was refinery seepage, others that it was a broken pipeline, and others that it was a very narrow oil vein.
   Between 1914 and 1959, drilling throughout Warren County was rather desultory and various fields in the county had their periods of activity and interest. Some of the smaller fields were Page Hollow, North Warren, Jackson Street extension, Conewango Creek islands, the Chandlers Valley area, and the Sugar Grove area.
   Of special interest was the Queen Sand strike. Charles Carnahan drilled on the Siggins farm, on the west side of the river four miles below Tidioute; he was trying to strike gas for use on his Triumph Hill lease but in April 1922, he penetrated the Queen Sand and with the gas came oil, 100 barrels a day, and at once the surrounding area was leased and an "excitement" was on. Some of the wells produced 500 barrels a day and the maximum production of the small field was 5,500 barrels a day. The size of the pool was soon defined as one and one-half miles in diameter with the sand twelve feet thick; it soon blew itself out.
   The price of crude oil did not seem to affect the drilling and optimistic men kept drilling when crude was at its lowest for the period, $1.30 a barrel, and also when it reached the period high point of $5.00 a barrel. * All information taken from “The History & Development of  The Petroleum Industry In Warren County, Pennsylvania” by Ernest C. Miller   
  * Use of the hydrofracture process for recovering oil in the Warren and Sugar Grove areas, not reached by the old conventional nitroglycerine shot, grew gradually, cautiously, and experimentally since the first well was fractured by Louis Geer of Warren at the Oakland Cemetery tract on April 21, 1962.* Warren Times Mirror September 21, 1962
  * In June of 1963, Dow Chemical Company employed several mammoth units, including mobile super-pumps powered with airplane engines to accomplish the fracturing operation. The pressure pumps exerted some 5,000 pounds per square inch  pressure to force a special mixture of water and sand into the well. Approximately one and one half pounds of special silica sand to the gallon of water was used. As the pressure forced the oil bearing sands to break up, the mixture of water and sand penetrated the multitude of cracks. After the operation the water was pumped out, and the fine sand remained in the cracks to keep them from closing. This provided the channels for the oil to flow. *  Warren Times Mirror
  * In October 1965, what was believed to be the largest oil well "fracturing" operation ever held in the United States east of the Mississippi River, took place on the 100 acre farm of Ange and Isabelle Lucia at Dunn's Eddy, near Irvine. What made the "fracturing" operation of possible historic significance, was the application of improved methods developed by Texas oilman Abram T. Travis, with several associates.
   For the first time in the eastern United States, nitrogen gas and high-pressure glass beads were employed on a large scale in the operation. The glass beads were of a special glass so strong and tough that if pressed between two steel plates they would embed themselves in their surfaces and would not be crushed.
   Purpose of these beads was to fill the cracks and crevices created by the pressure of water and gas and to hold them open in order to permit the flow of oil from the well's drainage area.
   By this method, Mr. Travis said he hoped to enlarge the drainage area for a well from the present average of approximately five aces to 40 or 50 times that amount.
   This would mean that one well would suffice for recovering oil from an underground area of two or three hundred acres. * Jamestown Post Journal October 4,1965  
  * Warren remained the strong hold of the independent refiners. Fourteen active refineries were operating at one time. As for refining in Warren County, the plants were small and the main process was a simple distillation; most of the condensed material became burning oil, some of it dangerous and of doubtful quality, and the residue or tar was waste material. Later, in the 1870's, county refiners switched to the upright "cheesebox" still, a direct-fired still. Improved separation was possible due to better heat distribution and the products were much superior. Some of these stills were used as late as the 1925-1929 period.
    Pennzoil's Rouseville refinery stopped refining Penn Grade crude in early 2000. But a handful of refining efforts remain throughout the region.
   The largest of them is United Refining in Warren. Although the plant handles only a small amount of Penn-Grade crude, it represents a substantial refining presence within the region. The facility, capable of refining 65,000 barrels a day, supplies more than 300 Kwik Fill/Red Apple gas and convenience stores. * From Erie Times News, January, 2001