Monday, October 12, 2009

The First Oil Rush

"A Seneca woman knelt by a creek in the Allegheny hills and spread an open blanket over a rainbow of colors that shimmered on the water. Then she carefully pulled in the heavy, dripping blanket and squeezed it over a pail. A dozen times she repeated the process until at last the pail was filled with.....oil. The year was 1750.

"Just as they stored meat, so the Senecas stored crude oil. They dabbed it on wounds and bruises. If a wound was slow to heal, they wrapped a stick in dry vines, dipped it in crude oil, and set fire to it. The flaming stick was used to burn away dead, decayed skin. Frequently they swallowed the crude oil a gulp at a time to cure fever and headache. When mixed with colored juice squeezed from berries and leaves, it became a war paint that stayed on through the sweat of battle. Each year after the spring floods, the Senecas would gather by the banks of the oil creek, bringing their sick and wounded to be healed in the soothing water. At the end of the day, the oily slick on the water would be set afire with a torch. As the flaming waters lighted up the night, shout after shout would burst forth from the assembled Senecas.

"A little over a hundred years later Colonel Edwin L. Drake brought up from the bowels of the earth near this creek the first oil ever mined in America - and the world's most lucrative business was born."

An interesting read, as we argue whether or not we've reached "Peak Oil".

The First Oil Rush, by Frances G. Conn and Shirley Sirota Rosenberg, Stated First Edition, 1967, with dust jacket. Offered for sale as of October 12, 2009 by Chewybooks.

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