Researched & Submitted by Richard F. Palmer
(Last issue of The Oil Echo, published for five months in 1882 - dated Wed., July 5, 1882. Written by the Editor and Publisher, P.C. Boyle)
Not Dead, But Sleeping!
THE OIL ECHO
The Representative Journal of the Allegany Fields
First Saw Light January 18, 1882.
Struck a streak of bad luck May 19.
LAY DOWN JULY 5, 1882.
A Case of Suspended Animation.
After a well fought battle of five months and eighteen days, in which it by no means got the worst of it, The Echo, to borrow an expressive but inelegant phrase of the region, "lies down." In its present application the term is merely figurative. It is not a "lay down," in the sense that oil brokers employ the term, but a general vacation in which are included editors, reporters, printers, pressmen and devil. It is a temporary suspension from business, limited only by the continuance of the Warren craze. "When in the course of human events," old Father Time gets in his work on Cherry Grove, and sends the boys back to their old Allegany love, The Echo expects to be on deck and to greet them open armed, in their dust and travel status by their weary march from the hemlock fastnesses of that awful grove.
Innocent or envious persons not knowing our motives may place a wrong construction on our action. This step is not a forced one but the result of calm judgment and deliberate choice. The Echo for some weeks past has been an open and honest advocate of a sensible shut down policy in which all ought to take a hand, pointing out its wisdom and the benefits which would speedily accrue from a general movement of this kind. And in this connection it is pleasant to reflect that the oil men were not slow to heed our advice. That they have heeded it is fully attested in the monthly reports just published. And what, under the circumstances, would be more natural than for the Echo to carry into practice a little of its own gospel. It is quite as easy if not so convenient for a new paper to stop its presence as for the enterprising oil man to bridle the drill, and the same as to starting them again. It affords us no little pleasure to refer to the Echo's proud record.
Other newspaper ventures have had their being in this vale of oil, and in a majority of instances disaster cut short otherwise long and useful, if not profitable, careers; but none has fought life's battle more valiantly, determinedly than the Echo. Its path, never a smooth one, grew more and more rugged toward the end. Called into life as it was to guard the rights of the people in this field, its ascent of fame's ladder was rapid and permanent; every position gained was stubbornly retained to the end. Its conflict with powerful and grasping monopoly is part of the history of this field and needs no further reference here.
In the start everything was against us, but the people, and these we held till allured by superior oleaginous attractions in a distant quarter they passed beyond our reach. The railroads operating in this field with a single exception conducted their business with the sole view of getting people into it without any special references to getting out of it early in the day.
By this means foreign journals found it easy to compete with us at many points in our own county. The U.S. mails was another and very great source of annoyance to us, inasmuch as it is practically impossible under the present system to reach, on the day of publication, points almost under our own nose. But all these things, while they may be peculiar, are by no means novel. It is possibly the experience of nine out of every ten candidates for journalistic favor. With the single exception of facility of circulation, the field was ripe, luscious, when we entered it.
But it's the old, old story of every oil field over again. The hungry prospector invaded a wilderness. The drill went down on 616 and oil came up. Hundreds were attracted to the spot who have not returned. As an example of the shrinkage of business in this field, since May 1st, when 219 wells were drilling; July 1st found but 94. This tremendous shrinkage represents but one branch of the industry, all other branches of it shrank in the same sad ratio, and the crude market more than all.
The 125 wells dropped from the drilling list represents a vast curtailment in labor, and removes nearly, if not quite, $2,000 a day from the currency circulated in an area of less than a dozen square miles. Alarming as were the shrinkages in the departments named, that of commercial values was even greater.
Oil went out of sight, so to speak, and valuable properties went begging. This field is still in its infancy and its great resources are practically untouched. When prices appreciate, as some day they must do; the rock will be called upon to surrender its wealth. When this good time arrives the Echo will steam up its presses and resume the narration of news events where it now leaves off.
In conclusion the Echo desires to return thanks to its advertising patrons for their patronage. Among the Echo's patrons are to be found the very elite of the oil region commerce. It is a source of no little gratification to us to know that with their patronage we enjoyed their confidence as well.