Early History Of Oil

The Monroe County History would not be complete if we neglected to write about the oil boom in Monroe County.

Reports of the oil boom in Monroe County were written by an Ohio State University professor as early as 1903


At the turn of the century, the principal pools in Monroe County were Sistersville (on both sides of the Ohio River), Jackson Ridge (Griffith Post Office), Graysville, and Moose Ridge.

The minor pools in Monroe County at that time were Clear Fork, Clift, Whitacre, Rinard Mills, Benwood, New Castle, Lewisville, Sycamore, and Jerusalem. Other areas in the county were developed after 1903.

A well was begun in April, 1891, on the Ohio side of the Ohio River, opposite Sistersville. This marked the opening of one of the largest pools discovered in this country.

Salt brine was a big headache in the early fields along the Ohio River. It was hoped that some day big chemical companies would develop the extensive salt beds. The quantity of salt brine from one well, at that time, was 3,500 barrels per day for a period of weeks. Upon solving the salt brine problem in one well, the production increased a total of 500 to 600 barrels per day.

Salt was less of a problem around the Trail Run farms. On one farm containing 125 acres, five or six strings of tools were working at one time. One of the wells which was drilled produced 2,400 barrels over a period of 24 hours -- making an average of 700 to 800 barrels per day for a month.

There was oil well activity in Perry Township, in Benton Township, and in the Jackson Ridge area near Woodsfield. According to the Buckeye Pipe Line Company, there were 300 producing wells here which produced 55,000 barrels of oil per month during the summer of 1901. The wells produced an excellent quantity of oil but the price per barrel, at that time, is not known. It is believed that the price of oil, in the boom of 1907, was $3.97. During the war years, as much as $6.10 was paid per barrel.

The first well was drilled very near the village of Graysville in the winter of 1895-1896. There was a showing of oil but there was not a sufficient quantity to shoot. Two more wells were drilled with the same results.

Another well was drilled in 1900. This well was shot with nitroglycerin. Oil began to flow with a production at first of 100 barrels per day.

Oil was discovered in Green Township in 1890 but the amount was small. Another try was made in 1894 when the largest well produced 1,400 barrels.

Another well was produced in the Lewisville area which was said to have been a "remarkable producer". On July 3, 1901, a well was completed. This well started producing 300 barrels per day, producing 900 barrels the first month, and producing 60,000 barrels the first year.