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Richburg Village of 8,000 During Early Oil Boom

(From Bolivar Breeze, Bolivar NY; 12-7-1933)

Richburg Village of 8,000 During Early Oil Boom

            Enthusiasm over the prospects of opening a new oil and gas field in the town of Allen, near Fillmore, which so far has maintained a healthy unfevered status, recalls the boom of early days in Old Allegany county with the discovery of oil in this county.

            The first commercial oil well completed in Allegany, according to J. P. Herrick, was Old Triangle No. 1, finished June 12, 1879, by O. P. Taylor of Wellsville, known among all oil men as the “Father of the Allegany County Oil Field.”  This well is near Petrolia and is still producing.  A sandstone boulder, with copper plate erected at Petrolia by the New York State Oil Producers’ association, records the facts.

            O. P. Taylor’s connection with the oil industry was brief.  He died in 1883, five years after Triangle No. 1 was completed.  A son, W. O. Taylor, a lad of 11 who ran errands when the well was drilling, is now a prominent oil producer of Wellsville.

Richburg Field Opened

        Another well located at Richburg was the first commercial well in the Richburg district but not the first commercial well in Allegany county.

            This well, located a mile east of Richburg, began flowing around 300 barrels a day and a real boom was quickly under way.  Within a few moths the quiet little farming settlement of Richburg had more than 8,000 population, two railroads, two banks, a morning and evening newspaper, and was as lively as any mining camp in the Rockies.

            The Richburg boom lasted just a year to the day, for in May, 1882, No. 646, the famous Cherry Creek gusher came in down in Warren county, Pa., causing a big slump in the oil market and the floating population in Richburg began going to the new and more promising Cherry Grove field.

Boyle Edited Paper

            The Richburg morning paper, The Oil Echo, was edited by Patrick C. Boyle, who later became editor and owner of the Oil City Derrick, Bradford Era and Oil & Gas Journal, and was, in his day, the foremost authority on oil in the world.  About the time the boom collapsed the Oil Echo office was destroyed by fire, leaving Mr. Boyle dead broke.

            Mr. Herrick concludes: “When the sun shines again on both sides of the fence in the New York state oil area as it will one of these days – and oil is selling for $3 to $4 a barrel, I trust that the oil producers of the Allegany field will establish a lasting memorial to the memory of O. P. Taylor, the gallant Confederate soldier and oil pioneer who surmounted many difficulties to put Allegany county on the oil producing map.”

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