Bolivar's First Refinery

(The Cynthia Lubricating Oil Works)

The Cynthia Oil Works, the first refinery in Bolivar Township, was erected on the Porter Cowles flats at the north end of Bolivar village in 1882.  The first run of crude oil was made the last day of September of that year.  The location was on a switch of the Bradford, Eldred & Cuba Railroad, just south of Salt Rising Road.

The plant, owned by B. W. Baum & Son, dealers in oil leases and managers of the first opera house at Richburg, was designed as a lubricating oil works and for the manufacture of ship oil of 300 fire test for illuminating on board ships.  The capacity of the stills was 85 barrels a day.  It advertised to manufacture "just as good quality machine oil as the big Eclipse refinery at Franklin."

When the plant was completed, Baum & Son had nearly 10,000 barrels of high grade crude in storage, oil that had been salvaged, or dipped from a dam in Little Genesee Creek near the works--the overflow of tanks up the valley.  The remainder of the oil was purchased from "dippers".  Before the refinery was built, an apparatus had been invented and was in operation that recovered 90 barrels a day of overflow crude from the creek dam for shipment to a Buffalo oil works.  As long as cheap, dipped crude was available, the plant was profitable.  They shut down the plant due to declining earnings and they had decided to leave Richburg and junked the equipment.