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map of the future Allegany County Oil Field

Oil or No Oil?

That is the Question.

The Divide Line Theory

Above we print a sketch map of the Allegany county Oil Belt according to the divide line theory of Professor W. H. Pitt and other leading scientists, which we explained in last week's Chronicle.

As our readers will remember Mr. Pitt is of the opinion, founded on scientific observation, that oil will be found in paying quantities in the vicinity of the high ridge from which the waters of the Genesee river north and the Allegany river south take their start.  This ridge is marked on our map following a somewhat serpentine from frm the north-west, in the town of Cuba, to the south-east in the town of Alma.  We will briefly review previous and present operations to see in what manner they bear out or contradict Prof. Pitt's idea.  We find that the Longabaugh, Central, Triangle No 1 and 2 wells are entirely dry or almost so.  These wells are quite removed from the divide line. The Pikeville toy Shoff and Triangle No. 3 come nearer the line and the oil indications were much more favorable.  The Duke & Norton well "about which hangs a cloud of mystery," is on the divide line.  If there is oil there the "Pitt" theory is strengthened if not it is decidedly weakened, although dry holes on acknowledged belts are not unusual.  The Campbell well, on the Sawyer farm, in the town of Bolivar, is near the "divide" line–a little south-west.  The Shoff and Honeoye wells, in the south-west corner of the town of Alma, were failures.  They are too far away frm the "Pitt" line.

We think there has been no other venture to manifest the truth or otherwise of the “divide” line idea until we come to the Utter well on the Helmer farm between Friendship and Cuba.  This is on the northern extremity of the divide ridge and if oil is found there it will certainly indicate a triumph for the geologist oil belt of Professor Pitt.

The “divide line” theory is certainly quite as reasonable as the “degree line” or the “surface indication.”  Geologists claim that the latter is purely imaginary.  Some oil operators are led by the appearance of white pebbles or conglomerate rock on the surface.  But the conglomerate rocks or white pebble of the lower oil fields is entirely different geological to those of the Allegany hills of the Northern Fields.  Those of the former belong to the subearboniferous formation whilst the latter belong to the upper horizon of the Chemung group.  White pebbles on the surface are no indication of oil beneath.  These pebbles can be traced in many places, twenty miles north of Friendship and also in many other localities where there is no suspicion of oil.  Surface rocks are about as good indications of petroleum as hickory trees, which absolutely show nothing.

If the “divide line” theory proves correct one its immense importance to Friendship will be seen by a glance at the map.  This is the railroad center, and as far as business and all other facilities are concerned Friendship ranks at least the equal of Wellsville and decidedly ahead of any other town in the county, our sister town of Cuba not excepted.

The Little Genesee Oil Well

Through the courtesy of a correspondent we have obtained the record of the drilling on the well which was put down recently at Little Genesee by W. Cranston and others.

The usual sands were found in regular order about 300 feet apart from each other.  The first sand was reached at 700 feet; the second sand was passed through at 1000 feet, with some show of oil and a small quantity of gas.  There was about 50 feet of good second sand but it soon became exhausted of oil, a barrel of which was saved.  The third sand was struck at 19\385 feet; there was some 35 feet of it.  The drill was afterwards sent down to 1427 feet.  Several barrels of oil were baled out of the hole, four barrels went to Richburg, and barrels were sent to other points.

There was quite a good amount of gas.

With these by no means unfavorable conditions at Genesee it would seem that Mr. Walter Utter's venture on the Summit near Friendship is not so much of a wild cat after all. [Friendship Chronicle, Vol. 1, No. 9, April 7, 1880]

Latest Oil News

There has been a heavy boom in the price of crude oil during the last few days, as will be seen form the price quoted in our market report.

The oil interests of this county are being very energetically stirred up just now.

The Wellsville developments are proving to be more important than was at first claimed.  Taylor's Triangle No. 2 is flowing spasmodically about 7 barrels per day.  A 25,000 barrel iron tank is to be built in the neighborhood of this well, which looks as though more oil was anticipated.

The Rushford well on the John Moore farm near Hardy's corners is down 400 feet and the drill is being pushed through Mother Earth as rapidly as possible.

Mr. W. C. Scott has charge of this venture and he represents one of the largest and most reliable of the Bradford district producers.  Mr. Scott was in town yesterday prospecting the territory around here.  If he can lease sufficient land he will put down several test wells in this locality probably in the south, south eastern and eastern parts of the township within three miles of the village.

The operator whom Mr. Scott represents does not ask for financial assistance but is abundantly able to drill a hundred wells if he so desired. The whole western and middle section of Allegany county has been carefully surveyed and if the land can be secured on reasonable terms eight or ten test wells, including the one at Rushford, are to be put down.

We trust land holders in this section will give this project fair consideration and act liberally towards the parties who desired to make the tests.  The name of the Bradford party has been given us in confidence and it is certainly one which is worthy of all credit.  For obvious reasons we do not make the name public.  [Friendship Chronicle, Vol. 1, No. 20, June 23, 1880]


According to the Wellsville papers, which certainly has no reason for under-estimating that the production of Triangle No. 3, in the town of Alma, has not done more than an average of 14 barrels since it was torpedoed, which shows a decided falling off from the first announcement–250 barrels a day.  It is now doing from 8 to 10 barrels.

Scio is the nearest railroad point to Triangle No. 3.

The Wellsville Reporter sums up the state of oil matters in the following evidently truthful paragraph:

“Although the number of strangers and investors in town continues large, and they are all doing an immense amount of running around, we hear of but few transfers of real estate.  All seem to be waiting for the tests under way to either boost the feeling into more of a certainty or give it a stroke the other way.”

The News wishes a test well put down at Nunda, in Livingstone (sic) County.  Here is a chance for the Nunda or Livingstone (sic) Oil Company.

The Walter Utter well on the Helmer farm about four miles west of this village, is down 550 feet.  Hard drilling was encountered last week, one strata of rock was so hard as to break a solid piece of about two inches long off the bit.  Stray sands slightly impregnated with oil have been encountered which is not usually considered a favorable indication, so near the surface.  The well was eased to 260 feet.  On account of the great elevation of the land the hole will have to be drilled 1,600 feet before reaching third sand–if it is found.  Mr. Utter is considerably annoyed by the many idle rumors in regard to this test, particularly a report that the result is to be kept a secret, whichever way it turns out.  He asserts that he is drilling the well on its merits and has no motive for any concealment.  We may say that the word of “WaltUtter has always been considered as good as his bond, in fact he bears a most enviable reputation for integrity.

[Source:  “Oil or No Oil?”, Friendship Chronicle, Vol. I, No. 26, August 4, 1880]

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